"Sweet Dreams My L.A. Ex", released in 2003, was the first and most successful solo single for Rachel Stevens, previously a member of the British pop group S Club 7. The song is also one of the more intriguing could-have-beens in pop history: It was originally written by Cathy Dennis for Britney Spears, specifically as a response to Justin Timberlake's breakup song "Cry Me a River", which is said to be directed at Spears.

However, Britney rejected the song based on the subject matter (I'd argue this was possibly a front, a way of letting the songwriter down easy, see below), and Cathy Dennis had to find another singer to perform the tune. Dennis had worked with S Club 7 before, and because one season of the S Club TV show was based in Los Angeles, singing about an "LA ex" seemed somewhat plausible for Rachel Stevens.*

Next to the slightly odd title, "Sweet Dreams My L.A. Ex" is notable for its relatively long chorus for a mainstream pop tune, with only the first, non-titular line being repeated:

1 If I were in your shoes
2 I'd whisper before I shout
3 Can't you stop playing that record again?
4 Find somebody else to talk about

5 If I were in your shoes
6 I'd worry of the effects
7 You've had your say but now it's my turn
8 Sweet dreams my L.A. ex

What makes the chorus appear longer is that the melody in stanza 3 and 4 is significantly altered vs. 7 and 8. This results in the tune sounding less catchy than it could be, because you need to remember both parts of the chorus to hum along and get used to the melody. In concordance, the rhythmic meter of the words is also significantly different in both parts, producing a chorus that is slightly clumsy-sounding upon first listens. I'd argue that this could be at least part of the reason Britney Spears (and some others after her) rejected the composition.

"Sweet Dreams My L.A. Ex" was handled by super-producers Bloodshy & Avant, and it's an excellent example of a rather average pop tune being turned into a hit through infectious production. Despite the confrontational subject matter, the recording immediately gives off a laid-back, self-assured and rather upbeat vibe. The catchy guitar strums in the verses and the chorus may remind you a little of another song: Around the same time in 2003, Britney Spears' "Toxic", also Bloodshy & Avant-produced, conquered the airwaves, arguably cementing Spears' status as a long standing force in the charts.

A few more little notabilities: The titular "L.A. Ex" is a pun on Los Angeles International Airport (LAX, in case you haven't noticed). The middle-8 also spells out "S-E-X" once instead, but referring to gender, not to sexual activity. It's possible the lyrics were changed here to make them more family friendly, as the question "D'you think that I'm the fairer sex?" seems rather pointless in context of this song.

* In addition, the breakup theme was also somewhat justified through S Club splitting up within two weeks of the single being released.

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