Britney Spears is one of the biggest pop stars of the last two decades, and author John Seabrook explores the behind-the-scenes story of how Spears signed with Jive Records in 1997 and turned into an international sensation in his book, The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory.
Spears initial foray into the music industry didn't really go as planned when her mother Lynn Spears took then 15-year-old Brit to the Big Apple to audition for three record labels.
"She came in, warbled 'I Will Always Love You,' and I couldn't wait for it to end," said Michael Caplan, Epic Records vice president of A&R. "Her complexion wasn't great, her voice wasn't great ... so we passed."
Next up for B was a meeting at Mercury Records, but they also passed on the future pop titan, leaving Jive Records as the last label with any interest.
"Britney was trying to sing like Toni Braxton, which was way too low for her. It sounded pretty awful in places," Jive's A&R executive Steve Lunt said. "But when her voice went up high, you could hear the girlish quality, and there was something really appealing about that."
While she wasn't a strong vocalist, Lunt was able to take that vocal versatility into consideration and notice something that later become a vital part of the Britney brand.
"Her eyes were rolling back in her head as she was singing and I remember thinking to myself, 'That is really weird but it's going to look great on video.' It was old-school church meets modern-day sex," Lunt recalled of the accidental sex appeal.
Fast forward to November 1998, and Spears was signed, branded and sold 500,000 copies of her debut single, "...Baby One More Time" on the day of release.
Watch Britney Spears' video for "...Baby One More Time" below!
Photo: Getty Images