Britney Spears

  • Pop singer and songwriter born in 1981 in McComb Mississippi.
  • Spears began dance lessons at age three and was singing solo at performances in kindergarten. She took voice lessons and won several talent shows as a child. At eight years old, she traveled to Atlanta to audition for The Mickey Mouse Club. She was rejected because she was too young, but the casting director introduced her to a New York talent agent. Shortly thereafter, Spears and her mother and sister moved to New York, and Britney enrolled at the Professional Performing Arts School. After appearing in several television commercials and singing on the television show Star Search, she was selected to join the cast of The Mickey Mouse Club at the age of eleven. The show was canceled in 1994, and she returned to Mississippi.
  • Bored with life back home, she aspired for a career in music. In 1997, she inquired about joining the girl-group Innosense. At the same time, she gave a karaoke tape of her singing a Whitney Houston song to a family friend who was an entertainment lawyer. The lawyer felt that she could audition as a solo artist, and Spears made a demo tape and met with four record labels in New York. One of the labels saw her potential and signed her at the age of fifteen.
  • A producer worked with her for a month to refine her style, and in 1998 she recorded her debut album. After promoting the album with a shopping mall tour, …Baby One More Time was released in early 1999. It quickly topped the Billboard 200 album chart. The title track topped the Hot 100 chart and it was #1 on 25 charts globally. It ended 1999 as the #5 song for the entire year and it was the #78 song for the entire 90s decade. Two other singles from the album were hits – Sometimes reached #21 and (You Drive Me) Crazy peaked at #10 on the Hot 100. The success of these singles drove album sales, and the album ultimately was certified 14x platinum, with global sales exceeding 25 million copies. It was the best selling debut album of all time by any artist.
  • Her follow-up album was released in 2000. Oops!…I Did It Again was a huge success, certified 10x platinum and topping the album chart. The title track reached #9 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Mainstream Top 40 chart and it topped 23 international charts. Other hits from the album were Lucky (#23 on the Hot 100) and Stronger (#11).
  • Still only 19 years old, Spears hosted the 2001 American Music Awards and she performed in the halftime show of the Super Bowl that year. She signed a promotional contract with Pepsi that paid her in excess of $7 million. Later that year, she released her third studio album, Britney. It was her first album in which she co-wrote many of the songs. It topped the album chart and it was certified 4x platinum. Its biggest hit was I’m a Slave 4 U reached #27 on the Hot 100 chart and it was top 10 in over 20 countries. Now an entertainment icon, Forbes magazine named her the world’s most powerful celebrity in 2002. That same year, she had her first film starring role, in Crossroads – she also was an executive producer of the film. She also had a cameo in Austin Powers in Goldmember.
  • Her fourth album, In the Zone, was released in 2003. It was certified 2x platinum, with three hits. Me Against the Music featured Madonna – it reached #35 on the Hot 100 and it topped the Dance Club Songs chart. Everytime peaked at #15 on the Hot 100. Toxic reached #9 on the Hot 100 and it topped the Dance Club Songs chart as well as eleven other international charts. Toxic is credited for setting the standard for dance-pop songs in the 00s by its use of electro-pop. Spears won a Grammy award for the song, for Best Dance Recording.
  • Spears took a break from recording and touring to focus on family – her first marriage was annulled two days after the ceremony, and her second marriage to Kevin Federline ended in divorce after two sons were born. Prior to this divorce, a reality television show titled Britney and Kevin: Chaotic was produced that documented her relationship with Federline – critics considered it career suicide for Spears.
  • Her next album, Blackout, was released in 2007. It reached #2 on the album chart and over time it was recognized as one of the most influential albums of the late 00s and early 10s, with its heavy use of technopop. Rolling Stone’s list of the Greatest Albums of All Time ranked it at #441. Gimme More peaked at #3 on the Hot 100, and Piece of Me reached #18, while both topped the Dance Club Songs chart. The following year, Circus was released, her sixth studio album. It included two huge hits – Womanizer topped the Hot 100 and the title track reached #3. In 2009, she released a Greatest Hits collection that included an unreleased single – titled 3, it reached #1 on the Hot 100.
  • Spears maintained her success in the 10s. Three albums were released, all of which were in the top 5 of the Billboard 200 chart. Five singles were top 5 hits, with Hold It Against Me topping the Hot 100 chart. She also was credited with a #1 song when Rihanna’s remix version of S&M featuring Spears topped the chart. Her collaboration with on his song Scream and Shout reached #3 on the Hot 100 and was #1 on 30 charts worldwide. In 2021, Elton John released a collaborative album made during the COVID pandemic titled The Lockdown Sessions. One of the songs was a collaboration with Spears titled Hold Me Closer, a mashup of Tiny Dancer, The One and Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. It peaked at #6 on the Hot 100 and it topped the Adult Top 40 and Hot Dance Songs charts, giving Spears #1 songs in four different decades.
  • Spears’ personal struggles away from music have been well documented, particularly the involuntary conservatorship that she endured for nearly 14 years. Her continued success in the music industry during this long period is remarkable. She’s been nicknamed the Princess of Pop – a well deserved moniker. Here’s the video for her Grammy winning song Toxic.

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