Why Britney Spears Was Nervous When She Recorded This Song Written by Justin Timberlake

Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake had a well-publicized relationship, however, not everyone knows they collaborated musically. When Spears was in the studio recording with Timberlake, she was nervous. Here’s a look at why — and what she thought of the finished song.

Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears in front of people
Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears | Dave Hogan/Getty Images

The songs Justin Timberlake wrote for Britney Spears

Firstly, a little background. In 2001, Spears released her album Britney. Britney was notable because Timberlake worked on it. According to MTV News, Timberlake co-wrote multiple songs for Britney with Wade Robson, a songwriter and choreographer who worked on NSYNC’s hits “Pop” and “Gone.” Robson would later become one of the subjects of the documentary Leaving Neverland, where he said Michael Jackson sexually abused him when he was a child. “We’ve got this one song that’s this rock kind of opera thing,” Robson revealed. “It’s almost got this classical vibe, almost like Queen redone. And we’ve got another one that’s kind of more vibey R&B.”

However, “What It’s Like to Be Me” was the only track written by Timberlake and Robson to make it onto Britney.” “What’s It’s Like to Be Me” is an R&B song that doesn’t sound like Queen or classical music at all, so it could be the “vibey R&B” song Robson discussed rather than the Queen-esque song he discussed. One some editions of the album, it’s the final song, making it feel like the album’s closing statement. 

“What It’s Like to Be Me”

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How Britney Spears felt in the studio with Justin Timberlake

The song isn’t just notable for being a collaboration between some major celebrities. It’s also notable because Spears broke her usual studio routine during the making of the song. “I have to say I was a little nervous at first,” Spears told MTV News. “I’m used to producers going in there and it’s like work. And I go in and I work and I do my vocals and work. And I thought that it was awkward at first, because I was nervous recording with him doing my vocals. …”

Oddly enough, Spears forgot she was working with her boyfriend. “But then I just totally forgot that he was my boyfriend, and I just said, ‘Britney, just do the vocals, don’t be nervous, don’t be retarded like this,’” she said. But it ended up being fine, actually. At the very en … I got the best vocals I’ve ever done.” Considering Spears has a very distinct and memorable singing voice, this was major achievement on her part.

“…Baby One More Time”

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How did the world react to ‘What It’s Like to Be Me’

So did “What It’s Like to Be Me” become a hit? The track was not released as a single and it did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. While the song has a pedigree, it did not become one of Spears’ more well-known tracks. However, Britney did chart on the Billboard 200, reaching No. 1. Even if “What It’s Like to Be Me” was not a hit, it was part of a hit album.