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Britney Spears’ ‘…Baby One More Time’ Almost Went To A British Boy Band Instead Because Of Simon Cowell

It’s hard to imagine what the early 2000s would’ve been like without Britney Spears’ debut hit single “…Baby One More Time” as the soundtrack. However, notorious grump/American Idol judge Simon Cowell recently revealed that he almost prevented the track, written by Max Martin, from going to Spears.

Not only did Cowell ask Martin to give “…Baby One More Time” to 5ive, a British boy band he was working with, instead, but he bribed him. On Howie Mandel’s podcast Howie Mandel Does Stuff, he said:

“I had a boy band at the time called 5ive, who I’d put together. And we were just on the verge of breaking them from America. Someone phones me from America and says, ‘I’ve just been played this song. And it was written for TLC.’ TLC passed. The guy plays it down the phone to me, this song ‘Hit me baby one more time.’ I’m like, ‘My God, I’ve got to have this song.’ So I phoned up Max. I said, ‘Max. Please, please give me this song.’ And he went, ‘I’ve promised it to someone else.’ And I said, ‘Well, I’ll send you a Mercedes — literally a Mercedes 500 SL if I can have this song.’ And he went, ‘No. I promised it to somebody else.’ And I went, ‘Who.’ He said, ‘Britney Spears.’ I said, ‘Max, let me give you some advice. No one is going to have a hit with a name called Britney Spears.’”

Listen to the full podcast episode above.