Welcome to Under the Covers! This week, we look at a dreamy rendition of Britney Spears legendary “…Baby One More Time.”
Since it’s release, Britney Spears’ iconic “…Baby One More Time” has been stuck playing on repeat in the world’s collective mind. With one play, we’re all immediately thrown back to 1999, singing along to verses we didn’t know we still had memorized—speaking from experience here. Even as concerns about the song’s lyrics emerged, the song remained in everyone’s heads and hearts; the questionable “hit me baby” phrasing was played off as a translation error on the part of the song’s Swedish writers.
The alternative, dream pop Marías might not be a band you’d expect to also fall in love with a pop classic, but, with a closer listen to their own music, it’s easy to see how they too were seduced by the track. Their music carries the same easy bop and sway as Spears’ tune, and the band doesn’t shy away from the elements of mainstream pop that make “… Baby One More Time” so endearing. Ultimately, they are unabashedly content with themselves, having the ability to craft exquisite originals while having the confidence cover songs on the outskirts of their personal style.
What makes The Marías‘ cover so remarkable is its ability to intertwine the catchiness of Britney Spears’ with the subtle oddness of the lyrics. María, the lead singer’s, vocals have always carried an inherent eeriness, sounding like a whisper despite her volume. Spears, meanwhile, throws sensuality into her voice, growling her “oh baby”s and utilizing the occasional riff. Spears also outfits her original with back-up singers and louder instrumentals demanding her voice asserts its power through sheer volume in addition to her vocal talent. She performs wonderfully in this more complex sonic landscape, letting a piano break transition the song into a purely emotional place as she belts for the last minute.
The Marías, true to their own style always, cut this last minute. The decision is genius for their styling of the song, never letting the gravity of the situation affect the steadiness of the instrumentals or vocals. By cutting the song with a sharp “I’m not that innocent” (taken from Britney Spears‘ “Oops I did it again”), they pay homage to the pop icon while further pushing the song into their more straightforward style. In that place, the lyrics shine, creating the poetic quality classic to the band. With their cover, they reopen settled conversations on “…Baby One More Time” as they let the undertones of the piece separate from the pop performance.