Revealing the story on the podcast of his America’s Got Talent co-star Howie Mandel, Cowell details the story, beginning from how had received a phone call from a contact who had played him ‘… Baby One More Time’ through the wire.
His contact had informed him that the song was written by the Swedish producer for TLC, who had passed on the future mega-hit. Upon hearing the track, Cowell – who had been working at the time with a boyband named 5ive “on the verge of breaking” stateside – turned desperate in trying to get the song from Martin. “My God, I’ve got to have this song,” he said.
“So I phoned up Max,” Cowell continued. “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?’ And he went, ‘Britney Spears.’ I went, ‘Max, let me give you some advice. No one is going to have a hit with a name called Britney Spears.”
However, Martin stuck to his promise, refusing to give up the track. Cowell’s take proceeded to become astronomically wrong: ‘…Baby One More Time’, which became the debut single for Spears, proceeded to become one of the biggest hits in pop history: going triple-platinum by selling over 10 million copies and topping the charts of 22 countries.
Cowell followed to credit Martin for his professionalism, in keeping his promise for giving the song to Spears, who at the time was an unknown name.
Watch the full interaction below, which begins around 38:35:
In related news, Spears recently shared in a now-deleted Instagram post earlier this month that she would likely never perform live again, due to being “traumatised” by her past experiences. Spears last performed live in 2017 on the closing night of her Las Vegas residency.
“I’m pretty traumatised for life and yes I’m pissed as fuck and no I won’t probably perform again just because I’m stubborn and I will make my point,” she said.