Listen to Episode 18 of Slate’s Hit Parade:
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 decadeslong 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.