"Born to Make You Happy" is a song recorded by American singer Britney Spears for her debut studio album, ...Baby One More Time (1999). It was released on December 6, 1999, by JIVE Records, as the fourth single from the album. Before recording the song, Spears had to ask the writers of the song, Andreas Carlsson and Kristian Lundin, to re-write it, since it was a sexual song. The singer first recorded her vocals in March 1998, and re-recorded them later on the same year. The dance-pop and teen pop song alludes to a relationship that a woman desires to correct, not quite understanding what went wrong, as she comes to realize that she was "born to make [her lover] happy".
"Born to Make You Happy" received mixed reviews from critics, who praised it for being an early classic and a proficient single, despite considering the song as entirely unremarkable like other ballads on the album. The song was commercially successful worldwide, peaking at number one in Ireland, and reaching top five positions in Belgium, Europe, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. In the United Kingdom, it also peaked at number one, and is Spears' sixth best-selling single in the country. An accompanying music video was directed by Billie Woodruff, and portrays Spears dreaming that she is with her lover, while she sings and dances during the majority of the video. Spears has performed "Born to Make You Happy" on four concert tours.
Before recording her debut album, Spears had originally envisioned it in style of "Sheryl Crow music, but younger [and] more adult contemporary". However, the singer agreed with her label's appointment of producers, who had the objective to reach a teen public at the time. She flew to Cheiron Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, where half of the album was recorded from March to April 1998, with producers Max Martin, Denniz Pop and Rami Yacoub, among others. "Born to Make You Happy" was written and produced by Kristian Lundin, and co-written by Andreas Carlsson, and was the first work by the duo. Spears originally recorded the vocals for the song in March 1998, at Battery Studios in New York City, New York. They were later re-recorded in April 1998 at Cheiron Studios, and used on the album version, while the original vocals were used on the "Bonus Remix" of the song. It was also mixed at Cheiron Studios by Max Martin. Esbjörn Öhrwall played the guitar, while keyboards and programming was done by Lundin. Background vocals were provided by Carlsson and Nana Hedin. "Born to Make You Happy" was released as the fourth single from ...Baby One More Time on December 6, 1999.
"Born to Make You Happy" is a teen pop and dance-pop song that lasts for four minutes and three seconds. The song is composed in the key of B minor and is set in time signature of common time, with a moderately slow tempo of 88 beats per minute. Spears vocal range spans over an octave, from F♯3 to B4. The song's lyrics are about a relationship that a woman desires to correct, not quite understanding what went wrong, as she comes to realize that "I don't know how to live without your love/I was born to make you happy". The song has a basic sequence of Bm–G–D–A as its chord progression.
David Gauntlett, author of Media, gender, and identity: an introduction (2002), noted that, despite wanting her lover next to her in the song, Spears' "fans see her as assertive, strong and confident, and an example that young women can make it on their own". The singer revealed in an interview with Rolling Stone, the writers had to re-write the original lyrics of the song. "I asked them to change the words to 'Born to Make You Happy.' It was a sexual song," she revealed. "I said, 'This may be a little old for me.' Because of the image thing, I don't want to go over the top. If I come out being Miss Prima Donna, that wouldn't be smart. I want to have a place to grow".
"Born to Make You Happy" received mixed reviews from music critics. Kyle Anderson of MTV considered the song's chorus more than "a little bit off-putting," saying the first lines of it "could be a sentiment that a lovelorn 16-year-old can understand, but it also sounds like Spears is in training to be a geisha." Craig MacInnis of Hamilton Spectator said "["Born to Make You Happy"] verge on the sort of boy-worshipping dreck that even Tiffany would have sniffed at." Mike Ross of Edmond Sun said, as Spears emotes in the song, "the message behind the music is worse than mere sweet nothings. [...] So much for Girl Power." Amanda Murray of Sputnikmusic considered "Born to Make You Happy" a "proficient but entirely unrememberable song," while Andy Petch-Jex of musicOMH considered the song an "early classic."
On January 29, 2000, "Born to Make You Happy" debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart. The song shipped over 200,000 copies in the United Kingdom, earning a silver certification by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). "Born to Make You Happy" has sold over 325,000 copies in the United Kingdom, according to The Official Charts Company. It is her sixth best-selling single in the country. In Ireland, the song also entered the Irish Singles Chart at number one on January 20, 2000, while peaking at number two on the European chart. In Sweden, "Born to Make You Happy" debuted at number four on December 23, 1999, peaking at number two in the following week. The song has shipped over 30,000 copies in the country, earning a platinum certification by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). In Germany, the song earned a gold certification by The Federal Association of Music Industry (BMVI), after peaking at number three on the charts. In France, "Born to Make You Happy" reached number nine, and was certified Silver by the Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique (SNEP).
JIVE Records commissioned a music video for the song to be directed by Billie Woodruff. It was produced under Geneva Films, while the choreography was created by Wade Robson. The narrative of the video shows Spears dreaming as she sleeps in her room. As the dream begins, Spears is shown in a blue and silver futuristic room with several different levels, where she sings and walks around, and puts her feet on the wall while wearing a shiny silver outfit. MTV news reporter Ellen Thompson considered it the sexiest moment of the music video. As the video continues, Spears is seen on top of the apartment building she lives in, performing a dance segment in a red top and black skirt with a few backup dancers. The following scenes shows the singer wearing white clothes and singing in the room in which she is sleeping, while her love interest comes into her room to see her. Together, they start a pillow fight that shortly ends after Spears is shown again in her room still sleeping, however, now with a smile upon her face. A longer dance segment intercalates with all the scenes during the whole video.
"Born to Make You Happy" has been performed by Spears on four tours. On her first tour, ...Baby One More Time Tour, she sang the song seated on a staircase, while on her second tour, Crazy 2k Tour, the performance of the song included a full dance segment. On 2000s Oops!... I Did It Again World Tour, Spears performed "Born to Make You Happy" wearing pajamas and slippers, with a dance segment near the end. "Born to Make You Happy" was performed for the last time on Dream Within a Dream Tour, where Spears emerged from the middle of a giant musical box on the stage as a ballerina, to perform the song in a medley with "Lucky" and "Sometimes", right after the performance of "Overprotected". Spears also performed "From the Bottom of My Broken Heart" and "Born to Make You Happy" on Disney Channel in Concert in 1999. The performances were recorded and included on Spears' first home video release, Time Out with Britney Spears.Britney Spears – lead vocals
Kristian Lundin – songwriting, producer, keyboards, programming
Andreas Carlsson – songwriting, background vocals
Nana Hedin – background vocals
Esbjörn Öhrwall – bass, guitar
Max Martin – mixing
Michael Tucker – pro-tools engineer
Reza Safina – assistant engineer
Tom Coyne – audio mastering