Rolling Stone rolled out its list of the 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time this week, and it was packed with beloved classics like “Blitzkrieg Bop” by the Ramones, “Maybelline” by Chuck Berry, “Anarchy in the U.K.” by the Sex Pistols, and “Love Me Do” by the Beatles. The Jackson 5 had the number two slot with “I Want You Back,” but it was Britney Spears who topped the entire thing with her classic “…Baby One More Time.”
“One of those pop manifestos that announces a new sound, a new era, a new century,” wrote Rob Sheffield. “But most of all, a new star. Planet Earth, meet Britney Jean Spears, the 17-year-old pride of Kentwood, Louisiana. … With ‘…Baby One More Time,’ this girl changed the sound of pop forever: It’s Britney, bitch. Nothing was ever the same.”
The song came out October 23rd, 1998, and slowly rose up the charts during the next few months. By January 1999, it was doing well enough for Spears to get booked on a number of daytime talk shows, including The Ricki Lake Show, The Rosie O’Donnell Show, Donny and Marie and Live With Regis and Kathie Lee. She performed “…Baby One More Time” on all of them.
The first show to book her, however, was the short-lived Howie Mandel Show. Check out the video where Spears sings the song and then sits for an interview with Mandel. Near the end, he hands her a large bouquet of flowers and tells her the song has just gone platinum. “That’s so wonderful,” she says. “I’m so excited. … I didn’t expect this.”
The Howie Mandel Show was yanked from the airwaves just three months later, but Spears was merely getting started. As the year went on, she became a constant presence on MTV and her follow-up singles “Sometimes” and “(You Drive Me) Crazy” were also enormous hits. She appeared on the first of her many Rolling Stone covers in April.
She hasn’t released a new album since 2016’s Glory and hasn’t performed live in nearly two years. A recent move by her hardcore fans to bring Glory to the top of the iTunes charts was successful and Spears responded by creating a new cover for it. Her future plans are a little unclear at the moment, but she was overjoyed to see her debut single top our list.
“Number ONE 😱 ??!!?,” she wrote on Facebook. “Thank you Rolling Stone …. what an honor 💋💋💋.”