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.
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