One of the most controversial and successful female vocalists of the 2000s, Britney Spears (along with the Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync) spearheaded the rise of post-millennial teen pop. She then spearheaded what looked like her own demise, with her questionable parenting, substance abuse and generally bizarre behavior becoming constant tabloid fodder. But as the 2000s closed, Spears seemed to have righted her ship and still held much of her popular appeal.
A former child actress (she, like Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera, was a regular on “The New Mickey Mouse Club” from 1993-94), Spears early on cultivated a mixture of innocence and experience that generated lots of cash. Her first single, ” . . . Baby One More Time,” paired a vaguely S&M lyric (the ellipse follows the words “Hit me”) with a fluffy, Europop-style big beat, and a video in which the singer paraded around in a Catholic schoolgirl outfit. Released in late 1998, it went to Number One, and the album of the same name, issued in January 1999, followed suit, debuting in the top spot. . . . Baby One More Time delivered further hits in “Sometimes” (Number 21, 1999), “(You Drive Me) Crazy” (Number 10, 1999) and “From the Bottom of My Broken Heart” (Number 14, 2000).
Wasting little time, Spears, who was born December 2nd, 1981 in McComb, Mississippi, and her producers and writers — a team that included Swedish hitmaker Max Martin — returned in 2000 with Oops! . . . I Did It Again (Number One, 2000), whose title smash (Number Nine, 2000) made the titillation of her debut even more explicit, with a the chorus that insisted, “I’m not that innocent.” Further hits from Oops included “Lucky” (Number 23, 2000) and “Stronger” (Number 11, 2000).
Spears’ third album, Britney (Number One, 2001), delivered smaller hits, this time emphasizing raunchiness without coyness, particularly on the Neptunes-produced “I’m a Slave 4 U” (Number 27, 2001), featuring a greased-up Spears moving in a more bluntly sexual direction than ever — a maneuver made even more bold-faced when Spears French-kissed Madonna during a performance on the MTV Video Music Awards in September 2003. (At the same event two years before she writhed with an albino python.) Britney was also a maturity move on the artist’s part: she helped write five of its songs and issued the image-conscious “Overprotected” as a single (Number 86, 2002). In 2002, Spears hit the big screen in Crossroads, a movie that was panned by critics but still drew her fans to theaters.
In November 2003, Spears released her fourth album, In the Zone (Number One), whose first single, “Me Against the Music,” featured a cameo by the woman she’d famously kissed on TV. Despite Spears’ and Madonna’s combined star power, the song only got to Number 35. Spears fared better with ballad “Everytime” (Number 15, 2004) and especially “Toxic” (Number 9, 2004), which won a Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording and spawned cover versions by rock bands. The album featured a mix of producers, including Moby, Bloodshy and Avant, R. Kelly and the Matrix. Spears capped her early career with Greatest Hits: My Prerogative (Number Four, 2004), featuring a defensive-sounding cover of the Bobby Brown hit; she next released the time-buying B in the Mix: The Remixes (Number 134, 2005) while pondering her next move.
By this point, Spears had become more of a tabloid celebrity than a pop star. She’d dated Justin Timberlake for four years (1998-2002), and he’d featured a Britney look-alike in his video for the single “Cry Me a River,” implying their break-up was due to infidelity on her end. She was involved in a disastrous restaurant in New York, Nyla, which closed shop within a year. In January 2004 she married a childhood friend, Jason Alexander (not the Seinfeld actor) in a quickie Las Vegas ceremony; it was annulled within three days. That September she married again, this time to dancer and aspiring rapper Kevin Federline, who would later record a widely panned rap album; the pair starred in a reality show for UPN called Britney & Kevin: Chaotic that chronicled their raunchy relationship via home-video footage shot while Spears was on the European leg of her Onyx Hotel Tour. Spears hurt her leg during the filming of the video for In the Zone‘s “Outrageous,” which featured Snoop Dogg, and had to cancel the rest of that tour. Shortly afterwards, she and Federline had a son, Sean Preston; just shy of one year later, she gave birth again, to Jayden James. Two months later, in November 2007, Spears filed for divorce.
Celebrity weeklies pounced on the news of Spears’ domestic breakdown, and the paparazzi, who had always closely tailed the star, amped up their coverage of Spears. Everything from her parenting to alleged substance-abuse issues made headlines, and after a brief stint as Paris Hilton’s party buddy, Spears spent one night at an overseas drug-rehabilitation facility before flying back to California, where she stopped at a hair salon and shaved her own head in full view of paparazzi cameras. As she continued to battle with Federline over custody of their two sons, Spears returned to rehab, this time for a month, under the advisement of her parents and longtime manager, Larry Rudolph. When she emerged, Spears cut ties with Rudolph and others who had urged her to seek professional help, and began to act erratically in public, hooking up with a paparazzo named Adnan Ghalib, and spending time with a new manager figure named Sam Lutfi.
In October 2007, Spears released her fifth studio album, Blackout (Number Two), which was mostly produced by Nate “Danja” Hills, the Timbaland protégé. Though she barely promoted the album, it generated the first-single smash “Gimme More” (Number Three, 2007) and the paparazzi kiss-off “Piece of Me” (Number 18), as well as “Break the Ice” (Number 43, 2008). Expectations were high for Spears’ return to the MTV Video Music Awards stage the month before the album’s release, but Spears’ show-opening performance of “Gimme More” was seen as a disaster that failed to feature Spears’ signature dancing skills.
In January 2008, Spears refused to relinquish her sons to Federline’s bodyguards and barricaded herself in her Los Angeles home. After being hospitalized twice in psychiatric wards, her divorced parents — who she had shunned since her month-long stay in rehab — returned to her life and her father, Jamie, was granted legal conservatorship of her affairs. In the months following, Spears appeared to tame her wild ways and was once again granted visits with her children (Federline won custody in October 2007). She made two appearances on the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, and returned to the studio to work on tracks for her sixth album.
Circus arrived on Spears’ 27th birthday and debuted at Number One in 2008. The album’s high-profile release was preceded by a documentary called Britney: For the Record that aired on MTV and examined Spears’ experience grappling with fame and preparing to return to the spotlight. Circus included the buzzing first single “Womanizer” (Number One, 2008), the title track (Number Three, 2008) — which addressed the public’s never-ending fascination with watching Britney — and “If U Seek Amy,” a saucy uptempo with a Rated R chorus (say the title fast). Danja returned as a producer, along with Max Martin, Bloodshy and Avant and Guy Sigsworth. In March 2009, Spears hit the road for the first time since her aborted 2004 outing on the Big Top-themed The Circus Starring Britney Spears tour. Spears faced widespread criticism for lip-synching onstage, but completed the nearly 100-date jaunt — one of the top-grossing tours of 2009 — without major incident.
Spears released her third compilation, The Singles Collection (Number 22, 2009), to mark a decade in the record industry. The disc featured one new song, “3” (Number One, 2009), which strived to cement Spears’ commitment to controversial lyrics (the track describes the singer’s apparent proclivity for threesomes). Spears didn’t do press to promote the album’s release, and remained uncharacteristically quiet since the conclusion of her Circus tour.
Later that month, she released an application for iPhone and iPod Touch titled “It’s Britney!”. In May 2010, Spears’s representatives confirmed she was dating her agent Jason Trawick, and that they had decided to end their professional relationship to focus on their personal relationship. Spears designed a limited edition clothing line for Candie’s, which was released in stores in July 2010. On September 28, 2010, she made a cameo appearance on a Spears-themed tribute episode of American TV show Glee, titled “Britney/Brittany”. Spears approved of the episode, although her appearances received mixed reviews from critics. The episode drew Glee’s second largest audience, as well as the show’s highest ratings ever.
In March 2011, Spears released her seventh studio album Femme Fatale. Max Martin and Dr. Luke executive produced the album and the album’s first single “Hold It Against Me”. The single debuted at number-one on the Billboard Hot 100. This gave Spears her fourth number-one single on the chart, and made her only the second artist in history to have two consecutive singles debut at number-one, after Mariah Carey. The album peaked at number one in the United States (selling 276,000 copies), Canada, and Australia, and peaked inside the top ten on nearly every other chart. The album’s peak in the United States ties Britney with Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson for the third-most number ones among women. Femme Fatale has sold over 590,000 copies in the United States and has been certified platinum by the RIAA. The album received positive critical reviews after its release, receiving a score of 67 on Metacritic, her highest critical score since Oops!… I Did It Again, with many critics naming the album one of Spears’s best. In April 2011, Spears appeared in a remix to the song “S&M” by Rihanna after Rihanna asked her fans via Twitter who they wanted her to collaborate with. The song reached number one in the US in mid-April 2011, giving Britney her fifth number one on the chart. In early May, Spears’ second single from Femme Fatale, “Till The World Ends”, reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and had ninety-eight million audience impressions on the Billboard chart, granting Spears the highest weekly audience of her 13-year chart career.
Femme Fatale’s third single “I Wanna Go” reached the top forty on the Billboard Hot 100 in June 2011. Among females in the last thirteen years, Spears now has the third-most top forty hits, with twenty-one. In August, the single managed to reach the top-ten on the Billboard Hot 100, which is the first time for Spears to have three songs from one album in the top-ten. On the week ending September 24, 2011, “I Wanna Go” moved 2–1 on the mainstream top 40, becoming her sixth number-one on that chart (making her tied for third all-time) and her first number-one and third top-ten pop song for Femme Fatale. Spears now has the longest span of number ones on the mainstream top 40, with a length of twelve years, seven months, and four days. In October 2011, the music video for Femme Fatale‘s fourth single “Criminal” caused controversy when British politicians criticized Spears for using replica guns while filming the video in an area of London that had been badly affected by the 2011 England riots. Members of the Hackney London Borough Council felt Spears “promoted gun violence” and suggested that Spears apologize and make a donation to a Hackney charity. Spears’s management briefly responded, stating, “The video is a fantasy story featuring Britney’s boyfriend, Jason Trawick, which literally plays out the lyrics of a song written three years before the riots ever happened.” Later that month, due to her continued popularity, Spears became the seventh artist to gain one billion cumulative views on her VEVO account. On Billboard‘s 2011 Year-End list, Spears was fourteen on the Artists of the Year, due to being 32 on Billboard 200 artists and 10 on Billboard Hot 100 artists. Additionally, many critics, including those at Rolling Stone, named “Till the World Ends” one of the best songs of 2011.
On March 2011, Spears announced that she would tour throughout the United States during summer 2011. The Femme Fatale Tour opened June 16 at the Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento, California to positive reviews. Many critics noted that Spears sang more of the concert live in response to lip-synching accusations during The Circus Starring Britney Spears, and that the dancing is some of her best in years.The first ten US dates of the tour grossed $6.2 million, landing the fifty-fifth spot on Pollstar’s Top 100 North American Tours list for the half-way point of the year. The tour ended on December 10, 2011 in Puerto Rico after 79 performances. A concert special of the tour was filmed in 2D and 3D in Canada on August 13 and 14. It premiered on November 12 on Epix, receiving mixed reviews. It was released to DVD on November 21 and sold 19,000 copies, debuting at no. 2 on the US Billboard DVD Chart behind Lady Gaga’s The Monster Ball Tour: At Madison Square Garden. Since its release, the DVD has been certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and Gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA).
On June 15, 2011, it was announced by Billboard that the RCA/Jive Label Group would be splitting, with Jive Records being fully moved under RCA Records staying intact. In August it was announced that Spears had officially joined the RCA’s roster. During the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards on August 28, 2011, MTV played tribute to Spears with a group of young female dancers that memorialised Britney’s music videos, performances, and style. Following which, Spears accepted the MTV Video Vanguard Award from Lady Gaga, who said that “industry wouldn’t be the same without [her]”. On September 9, 2011, Spears announced her second remix album, B in the Mix: The Remixes Vol. 2, which was released on October 7, along with the tracklist. On October 7, RCA Music Group announced it was disbanding Jive Records along with Arista Records and J Records. With the shutdown, Spears (and all other artists previously signed to these three labels) will release her future material on the RCA Records brand.
On December 16, Spears confirmed her engagement to her long-time boyfriend Jason Trawick, her former manager. Spears revealed her three-carat diamond ring at a party in Las Vegas on December 17.According to RCA’s Joe Riccitelli the executive vice president of promotion for RCA Records, told U.S. radio station Hot 99.5 that Britney is taking time off in 2012. However, on January 30, 2012, will.i.am confirmed that he recorded a track with Spears, set to be included on his upcoming fourth studio album, #willpower (2012). It was also reported that Simon Cowell is in talks with Spears for her to join the new season of the The X-Factor. According to Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter, Trawick is already negotiating Spears’ contract with the show.
Reference: RollingStone.Com / Wikipedia.Com