Music

00s hit pop song you didn’t know was a loaded takedown of Justin Timberlake


Justin Timberlake inspired a track by an unlikely British singer (Picture: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

In 2003, Rachel Stevens dropped her hit single Sweet Dreams My LA Ex as her first solo endeavour but the track wasn’t even dissing her own ex.

It was actually about Justin Timberlake, 43, who recently got arrested for driving while intoxicated, after his split with Britney Spears.

The track peaked at number two on the UK Singles Chart and was the lead single from the S Club star’s debut album Funky Dory.

While she scored chart success, Rachel, 46, was not the intended singer of the scathing song as it had been written for and offered to Britney first.

The anthem is from a woman’s point of view, scolding a former lover for slamming her publicly after a bitter split — sound familiar?

British singer-songwriter Cathy Dennis wrote the track after hearing Cry Me A River, which is said to be aimed at Britney.

Rachel Stevens made Sweet Dreams My LA Ex an instant hit (Picture: Joseph Okpako/WireImage)
It was written for Britney Spears after Cry Me A River (Picture: Dave Hogan/Getty Images)

The split between the Trolls actor and the pop princess is legendary with the 42-year-old singer posting ‘It’s the little things you know !!!!’ after his arrest.

Cry Me A River features a woman who looks very much like Britney in the music video, sparking long-lasting speculation that it was directed at her.

At the time the Lucky singer faced a lot of backlash over cheating accusations but she chose to turn down Sweet Dreams My LA Ex.

Rachel’s cutting lyrics include: ‘If I were in your shoes/ I’d whisper before I shout/ Can’t you stop playing that record again?/ Find somebody else to talk about.’

She goes on to warn about the ‘effects’ of him having his ‘say’, before closing the chorus on: ‘You’ve had your say but now it’s my turn/ Sweet dreams my L.A. Ex.’

Instead, Britney waited two years and released Mona Lisa independently of her label, making a surprise appearance at Kiss FM to reveal the song.

‘Ladies and gentlemen / I’ve got a little story to tell About Mona Lisa / and how she suddenly fell,’ sings the pop star in the song.

The track was intended to be part of her album Original Doll, which was never released and was replaced by her comeback album Blackout in 2007.

The Britney-Justin split rocked the pop world (Picture: AP)
She released Mona Lisa to take back the narrative around her (Picture: Jim Smeal/REX/Shutterstock)

When Mona Lisa was eventually released — on a bonus CD for Britney & Kevin: Chaotic — fans noted the lyrics had been changed from the demo version to be less dark.

Original lyrics included: ‘She was a legend though, it’s kind of pitiful that she’s gone’ and ‘It’s time to let her go, cause she’s gone’.

One particularly striking line said: ‘Now, don’t have a breakdown cause you’ll hit the freaking wall.’

All of these were softened when Mona Lisa was quietly released and the song has largely been forgotten by the charts.

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