This was the first English-language single for t.A.T.u., the Russian duo of Lena Katina and Yulia Volkova. They were teenagers when the song was released, and blatantly portrayed as lesbians, an image created by their manager Ivan Shapovalov. (The name t.A.T.u. (pronounced "tattoo") comes from a Russian phrase that means "This girl loves that girl.")
The girls went along with it until December 2003, when they came out as straight on a Russian TV show, claiming that when they signed their contract, they didn't know they would be forced to kiss and pretend to be lesbian lovers.
With this song, t.A.T.u. became the first (and so far, only) Russian artist to hit #1 on the UK charts.
The group was put together by Russian producer Ivan Shapovalov, who was trying to fill a void in the underage Eastern European lesbian market. The group became so popular they were chosen to represent their country in the Eurovision Song Contest, but the Russian government didn't think they represented their country well. For the Eurovision Song Contest, Shapovalov arranged a video shoot in Moscow's Red Square and arranged for 200 girls to appear in the video kissing and cavorting like the girls in t.A.T.u. The shoot got a little out of control, and Shapovalov was arrested for disturbing the peace.
Trevor Horn, known for his work with The Buggles and Yes, produced this track and is credited as a co-writer.
The song has an interesting array of writers: in addition to Horn, the Russian songwriters Sergey Galoyan, Elena Kiper and Valerij Polienko are listed, as are the group's founder Ivan Shapovalov and the American record executive Martin Kierszenbaum.
Galoyan, Kiper and Polienko wrote the Russian version of the song, "Ya Soshla S Uma," which was released by the duo in 2000. The song got the attention of Kierszenbaum, who was an A&R man at Interscope Records. His boss Jimmy Iovine arranged for Horn to work on the project and create a new English-language version of the track.
The group's creator Ivan Shapovalov also directed the video, which shows the girls sharing a passionate kiss.
The original Russian version is called "Ya Soshla S Uma," which means "I've Lost My Mind." The song's co-writer Elena Kiper has said that she came up with the original lyrics, which are about lusting after a girl. According to Kiper, she had a dream about the female Russian MTV personality Tutta Larsen in which Larsen tried to kiss her.
Kiper claimed that she delivered these lyrics to her boyfriend, Ivan Shapovalov, and together they developed the t.A.T.u. concept around the song.
The English translation kept the same lyrical theme: love and madness between two girls.