Britney Spears

The Swedish design of American pop icon Britney Spears

Lustrous American pop icon Britney Spears is constantly noted as one of America’s most famous musicians and to be an exemplary model of American culture. Little do people know, however, that much of Spears’ initial sound and theme was designed by Swedish producers.

After being signed by Jive Records in 1997, Spears was shipped to Sweden to work with Swedish producers, most notably Max Martin, a Stockholm-born producer that had gradually been developing his career since the early 1990s. Before working with Spears, Martin had already played a critical role in developing music for mega-popular American pop band Backstreet Boys.

Swedish producer Max Martin was the sole writer of Britney Spears’ hit song “…Baby One More Time.” The music video was directed by British director Nigel Dick.

Spears’ first hit single “…Baby One More Time” (1998) was solely written by Martin and was originally intended to be performed by popular American hip hop group TLC, but they rejected the piece. It was then presented to upcoming Swedish singer Robyn who also rejected it. Finally Spears appeared and was a perfect candidate since she was building her sound and image from the ground up and did not want to turn down the opportunity.

The song turned out to be a major hit, along with a number of other songs that were released on her first album “…Baby One More Time.” More than half of the album was recorded in Stockholm. Spears won many Grammy nominations and became a home name over night. Scores of American teenage girls bought her album and young boys slobbered over her. Vending machines in grocery stores sold shiny Britney Spears stickers for 50 cents a piece and American pre-teens came to school with Spears branded merchandise. On the same token, people criticized her content for having crossed the line into pedophile territory considering she was a 16 year old dancing in a seductive school girl uniform in the song’s music video.

Despite being a sensation, Spears has not been widely praised as being an ideal role model for women or young girls. As her career progressed, she relied heavily on her sexual image to keep her name in the press, and would pose nude in magazines or attempt to show more of her body (which has ultimately become a theme for modern female American pop stars altogether). In 2007 Spears entered drug rehabilitation centers many times, shaved her head on her own in public and lost custody of her children. She certainly draws question to the mainstream music industry’s influence on young Americans and people all over the world.

So while Spears is often called an “American icon,” she is actually very much of Swedish design. What would modern American music be without Swedish producers? Spears paved the way for many mainstream American pop stars existing today, from Lady Gaga to Taylor Swift.

Max Martin was a contributing writer to major hit “I Kissed a Girl” (2008) by sex kitten pop star Katy Perry. The music video was directed by Polish-Australian director Kinga Burza.

Max Martin went on to be a contributor to many other “American icon” pop musicians that ingrained sex appeal in their image to gain popularity, such as Kelly Clarkson, Pink, Usher, Avril Lavigne, Jessie J, Katy Perry, Christina Aguilera and Ariana Grande.

The more you look into the background of American pop musicians, the more you will learn their music and image was not created by Americans.


Lauren Ell is an American blogger born and raised in Southern California and is currently based in Sweden. She discusses Epilepsy, Politics and Fun. Professionally Ell is an Online Marketing Consultant and Virtual Assistant. She is also founder and president of Republican Atheists. Connect with Lauren on Facebook and Twitter.