Not only did the 20th anniversary of …Baby One More Time fix climate change and end world hunger, but it also led to newfound appreciation of Britney’s debut album. There’s a whole generation of young people out there who weren’t even alive when Godney brought us this precious, precious gift, so it’s gratifying to see her first record receive some love from the Spotify generation as well.
A number of articles and social media rants posted over the weekend prove that hits from the album like “…Baby One More Time” and “(You Drive Me) Crazy” will continue slaying us till the world ends, but there’s one track, in particular, that’s still not getting the love it deserves and that’s “Soda Pop.”
You’d assume that a song that also appeared on the first Pokémon movie soundtrack would be universally loved by all, but to do so would make you even more wrong than the Ash/Pikachu porn that circulates online.
Despite appearing early on the original tracklist between classic singles like “Sometimes” and “Born To Make You Happy,” “Soda Pop” is often dismissed as an unfortunate byproduct of the time in which it was made, much like Napster or The Phantom Menace.
In a brand new ranking of the album’s track listing, Billboard placed “Soda Pop” in tenth place, besting only “The Beat Goes On,” and EW was even harsher when they argued that it’s one of the four worst songs Britney’s ever recorded. We were more generous when we ranked it in seventh place, but on an album full of classic material, “Soda Pop” still deserves to be celebrated and not just because it’s catchy AF either.
Although super-producer Max Martin was the one who elevated Britney to stardom with her debut single, the lion’s share of …Baby One More Time was actually written and produced by Eric Foster White, who basically worked on every song that wasn’t a single and eventually won a Nobel Prize for his work on “E-Mail My Heart.”
Along with reggae star Mikey Bassie, White co-wrote and produced “Soda Pop,” drawing on influences from the seemingly incongruous worlds of dancehall and bubblegum pop. While the song seems to have left a bad taste in the collective mouth of critics everywhere, fans at the time fizzed with joy at Britney’s soaring vocals and her infectious love of soda popping, even if it did sound like nothing else on the album.
Although it’s easy to see now why the song’s reggae vibes might have sounded out of place back in 1999, it’s also clear that the experimental nature of “Soda Pop” would go on to inform the genre-bending that defined later albums like Femme Fatale and In The Zone. Part of Britney’s appeal has always been her weirdness, and it doesn’t get much stranger than singing about opening a “soda pop, bop, shu-bop, shu-bop” to dancehall rhythms.
Scratch that. It does get weirder, but only when you stop dancing around to this carefree bop and take a closer look at the lyrics. On the surface, Britney’s obsession with soda seems to harken back to more innocent times when dates would meet up at their local diner over a chocolate malt. In reality, though, “Soda Pop” might be more interested in the taste of something else altogether.
When Bassie’s guest vocals first kick in, younger me assumed that he and Britney were just enjoying a casual soda together as all good friends do. However, talk of “monster riding to the music tonight” and leveling the vibes “for a wicked time to the end” took on a whole new meaning for older me.
That’s right. It’s not just soda that Britney’s watching “fizz and pop” in the chorus.
Many are quick to claim that “E-Mail My Heart” is the weirdest song that the Princess of Pop has ever recorded, but “Soda Pop” could easily give it a run for its money, which is why this naughty little ditty will remain a fan favorite “on and on until the break of dawn” and beyond.
“Soda Pop” is many things to many people; A cheesy nostalgia trip, a hyper-sexual ode to ejaculaton, a “vibical expedition” that rivals even the work of the “great poet Homer”… it’s tough to fully encapsulate the song’s strange, strange appeal, which is why we’ll leave it up to Weirdney herself to explain:
“’Soda Pop’ is such a fun song, when you hear it you’re just like ‘oh, I wanna go outside and just, y’know, party’ it’s like a really fun summer song everyone, y’know, just, in your car, listening to, y’know, it’s a great song, it’s a lot of fun.“
Truer words have never been spoken.
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