From a very young age, Britney Spears seemed destined for stardom. The kid from Louisiana had landed a role on the revived Mickey Mouse Club and styled herself as a belter of power ballads. But to score her first No. 1 hit, Spears would team up with an introverted Swedish songwriter named Max Martin. He was trying to write American R&B and instead, through Britney and her high-school dance formations, created a new template for über–American teen-pop. This month, we go inside the Stockholm music factory—and its decades-long history, from ABBA to Ace of Base—that gave rise to a new generation of millennial pop, from the Backstreet Boys and *N Sync to Robyn and Taylor Swift. Email: email@example.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
What makes a song a smash? Talent? Luck? Timing? All that—and more. Chris Molanphy, pop-chart analyst and author of Slate’s “Why Is This Song No. 1?” series, tells tales from a half-century of chart history. Through storytelling, trivia and song snippets, Chris dissects how that song you love—or hate—dominated the airwaves, made its way to the top of the charts and shaped your memories forever.