Britney Spears

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Template:Infobox band Britney Jean Spears (born December 2, 1981) is an American pop singer, songwriter and dancer, most popular in 1999 and the early 2000s. Her career encompasses chart-topping records, high-profile advertising, and forays into acting and reality television. She remains popular throughout the world despite controversy surrounding the perceived sexual nature of her music and image.

Contents

Biography

Childhood and discovery

Born to Jamie Spears, a building contractor, and Lynne Bridges, a grade school teacher, in McComb, Mississippi and raised in Kentwood, Louisiana, Spears performed in local dance revues and church choirs as a young girl, and was auditioning for the Disney Channel's New Mickey Mouse Club by the time she was eight. Although she was too young to join the series at that time, a producer on the show introduced her to a New York agent; she subsequently spent three summers at the Professional Performing Arts School Center and also appeared in a number of off-Broadway productions, including 1991's pop hit Ruthless! In 1992, she landed a spot on Star Search and although she won the first round, she was beaten by another contestant in the second.

Spears then returned to the Disney Channel for a spot on the New Mickey Mouse Club and was accepted. She was featured for two years between the ages of eleven and thirteen during the 1993 and 1994 seasons. Others on the show included Justin Timberlake and Joshua Chasez (who later became members of the pop group *NSYNC), Keri Russell (star of the TV show Felicity), fellow pop singer Christina Aguilera, and actor Ryan Gosling.

Before long, Spears had recorded a demo tape, which eventually landed in the hands of a Jive Records executive. She was quickly signed to their label and began touring American venues for a series of concerts sponsored by U.S. teen magazines before joining *NSYNC and becoming their opening act. It was at this time that Spears became romantically involved with Timberlake.

1998–2001: Early commercial success

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...Baby One More Time is Spears' most commercially successful album both in the U.S. and internationally.

By late 1998, Spears' debut single "...Baby One More Time" was beginning to impact radio stations and MTV. Led by a music video that featured the 5'4" brown-eyed bottle blonde dressed as a racy schoolgirl, among other belly-baring outfits that would soon become her trademark, the song became an international success, earning Platinum sales and going to number one in the U.S., as well as the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, among many other countries.

Her debut album of the same name, ...Baby One More Time, topped the LP charts in Canada and the U.S. for six non-consecutive weeks. Within a year of the record's release, the album had become the best-selling LP by a teenager in history, spawned two U.S. top ten hits (in "...Baby" and "(You Drive Me) Crazy") and one top 30 hit (in "Sometimes") and shipped over ten million copies in the U.S. alone; it would go on to ship another four million copies on top of this.

In April of 1999, she was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. The sexually suggestive Lolita-themed photo spread began a whirlwind of rumors that the still-seventeen-year-old had gotten breast implants. These claims were denied by Spears' camp, and seemed to have little impact on the young starlet's rising popularity.

That summer, she kicked off her first headlining tour, titled the ...Baby One More Time Tour. By late 1999, Britney Spears had become one of the year's biggest stars, a claim backed-up in the amount of award nominations she received that season. In December, she took home four Billboard Music Awards, including Female Artist of the Year, and the next month won for Favorite Pop/Rock New Artist at the American Music Awards.

At the Grammys held in February 2000, Spears received two nominations, including one for Best New Artist. She performed her signature song "...Baby One More Time" and her then-current single, the top twenty hit "From the Bottom of My Broken Heart" at the show, but went home empty-handed, losing the aforementioned award to fellow ex-mouseketeer Christina Aguilera.

After the short-lived Crazy 2K Tour and just two months after her debut began to die down in steam, Spears was ready to release the lead single off her sophomore effort. "Oops!... I Did It Again" broke a record for most radio station adds in a single day [1] and quickly became a U.S. top ten hit and number one single in other countries, including the U.K. and Australia.

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Oops!... I Did It Again became a massive commercial success upon its 2000 release.

Released in May 2000, Oops!... I Did It Again also debuted at number one in the U.S. and Canada, and was a similarly huge hit like her debut. It sold over 1.3 million units during its first week in the U.S., making it the fastest-selling album by a female artist in history. Within a year of release, it had shipped over nine million copies in the U.S. alone (and would go on to ship another million on top of that).

That summer was another busy one for Spears, as she kicked off her first world tour (titled the Oops!... I Did It Again World Tour) and also became an author after co-writing the novel Britney Spears' Heart-to-Heart with her mother Lynne. At the annual MTV Video Music Awards, she gave a performance of "Oops!... I Did It Again" and The Rolling Stones' classic hit, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". During her performance, she ripped off a black suit to reveal a provocative nude-colored and crystal-adorned stage costume that caused quite a bit of controversy, seeing as the singer was only eighteen at the time.

Through the year, the top thirty "Lucky" and top twenty "Stronger" kept Spears on the charts. In late 2000, she won two Billboard Music Awards (one of which honored her for breaking the record for one week album sales by a female artist). Then, in early 2001, she hosted the American Music Awards, performed "Stronger" at the ceremony and was also nominated twice. At the Grammys, one of her two nominations was for Oops!... I Did It Again in the category of Best Pop Vocal Album. Again, however, she did not win.

2001–2004: Artistic development

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Britney was viewed as a developmental milestone in Spears' music.

In early 2001, she struck a $7-8 million USD promotional deal with the soft drink giant Pepsi; her first commercial for them premiered during the 2001 Academy Awards. She then released the follow-up novel to Britney Spears' Heart-to-Heart, with this one being entitled A Mother's Gift.

In September 2001, Spears again performed at the MTV Video Music Awards. This time around, she was dressed in a typically revealing outfit, drenched in 'sweat' and on a jungle stage environment. She gave a performace of her new single "I'm a Slave 4 U" and danced around the stage with an albino snake. Along with another blitz of media attention, she was also criticized by the PETA organization for her use of animals (both the snake and four cheetahs) as a part of her performance.

In November 2001, she released her third album, Britney. It debuted at number one on both the U.S. and Canadian charts, selling over 740,000 units during its first week in the U.S. This made her the only female artist in SoundScan history to have her first three albums debut at number one. Over four million copies of the record have been sold in the U.S. alone [2], and while this is by no means low, these figures can not compare to the sales of her first two albums. Britney also failed to spawn any U.S. top ten hits; in fact, the only successful single released from the album was "I'm a Slave 4 U", which reached the top thirty. This album is also notable for being the first of which Spears really began to take some creative control; she co-wrote five of the album's tracks. At the same time the album was released, Spears set off on her next world tour: the Dream Within a Dream Tour.

In 2002, Spears starred in a movie, Crossroads, which reached number two in its first week at the box-office charts, but quickly dropped from sight. Songs from the album Britney appeared in the film. Spears' performance was poorly received by critics, and she netted herself a Razzie Award for Worst Actress, tied with Madonna. One of the tracks from Britney, "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman", also won the Worst Original Song award, and in 2005 Spears was again 'honored' by the Golden Raspberry judges when she was proclaimed Worst Supporting Actress for her cameo role in the documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, which showed her response to a CNN interview question by Tucker Carlson, regarding her political views during the then-impending 2003 invasion of Iraq.

On another sour note, Spears' five-year relationship with Justin Timberlake ended at this time. The break-up became a very publicized event on the news and in the tabloids, with rumors swirling that Britney had been unfaithful.

In June 2002, Spears branched out as a restaurateur with the opening of a New York City eatery, NYLA; but the venture was not a success, and the restaurant closed in 2003. A couple of months later, she took a break from the spotlight, and in 2003 many music industry critics speculated her career was in decline. That same year, Spears was nominated for two Grammys yet again, including Best Pop Vocal Album for Britney.

It would not be until August 2003 that Spears truly resurfaced on the music scene. That month, she appeared in perhaps her most controversial performance to-date with her idol Madonna, pop contemporary Christina Aguilera and rapper Missy Elliott. Spears and Aguilera performed Madonna's classic hit "Like a Virgin", danced suggestively and then each locked lips with the pop icon. In particuliar, the kiss between Madonna and Spears launched a huge media coverage that would last for months.

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In the Zone is generally perceived as Spears' most overtly sexual album to-date.

In November 2003, In the Zone was released. Jettisoning the Max Martin-produced synth-pop of her earlier releases, the album took in lesser-known producers such as RedZone, as well as such big names as Moby and R. Kelly. Spears co-wrote eight of the album's thirteen songs and also helped with producing for the first time. Zone rose straight to the top of the U.S. charts in its debut week, making Spears the only female in music history to have her first four albums debut at number one. The record has sold three million copies in the U.S. [3] and spawned the international number one and U.S. top ten hit "Toxic". The single struck gold not only commercially, but also critically as it helped Spears win her first Grammy in the category of Best Dance Recording.

On January 3, 2004, Spears married her childhood friend Jason Allen Alexander at The Little White Wedding Chapel on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Iann Schonken, originally from South Africa. An annulment was promptly arranged and was granted on January 5, ending their fifty-five hour marriage.

In March, Spears embarked on her fourth world tour, The Onyx Hotel Tour, which grossed over $34 million USD and was seen by over 600,000 fans in North America and Europe. In June, she cancelled the remaining dates of her tour after reportedly injuring her knee during the filming of the video for her single "Outrageous". That same month, Spears, 22, announced her engagement to dancer Kevin Federline, 26. Federline was formerly in a relationship with actress Shar Jackson, with whom he has two children.

On the night of September 18, 2004, Spears married Federline before twenty-seven guests in a private, non-denominational ceremony at a residence in Studio City, California. Spears wore a strapless, white gown by Monique Lhuillier and Federline wore a black tux. The wedding party donned sweatsuits after the ceremony and ventured out to an L.A. nightclub for an afterparty of drinking, dancing and full-on partying until after 2 a.m. The legitimacy of the marriage was initially questioned, but on November 18, 2004 a representative of the Los Angeles County registrar's office confirmed Spears and Federline had successfully filed their marriage license with the county within ten days of their ceremony and were therefore legally married.

2004–present: Career hiatus/Artistic development

File:Curiosityperfume.jpg
"Curious" perfume promotion, at the Toronto Eaton Centre.

During the latter half of 2004, Spears announced she would be taking another career break in order to start a family. Though she stopped making many public appearances, the 'Britney Spears industry' seemed to continue running itself.

In September 2004, she released her first fragrance, "Curious" (a floral scent with vanilla and musk), for which she earned a reported $12 million USD. The fragrance had the biggest debut in sales in history from Elizabeth Arden, breaking the record for first-week gross for a perfume; after one year of sales, the product has netted more than $100 million USD. [4] In addition, the perfume ended up as the number one fragrance of 2004 in department stores, and in 2005, "Curious" was honored by the Fragrance Foundation, naming it Best Women's Fragrance. Following the success of "Curious", Spears released her next Elizabeth Arden fragrance, "Fantasy" (a fruity scent with flowers and cupcake), in September 2005.

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Greatest Hits: My Prerogative.

In late 2004, Spears released her first hits collection: Greatest Hits: My Prerogative. The album debuted at number four on the U.S. charts (becoming Spears' first album to not debut at number one domestically), selling over 255,000 copies in its first week of release; since hitting shelves, the set has sold over a million copies in the States. The collection includes all of her biggest hits, such as "...Baby One More Time", "Oops!... I Did It Again" and "Toxic", as well as two new songs and a cover of Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative", which was featured as the lead single. A second single entitled "Do Somethin'" was released in early 2005.

During the spring of 2005, Spears' reality show with husband Kevin Federline, entitled Britney and Kevin: Chaotic, premiered on UPN in the U.S. In total, the series included five episodes. Both Spears and Federline were credited as executive producers. Chaotic was panned by most critics, and after the first episode, ratings started to slip. However outside the US, the show was much more successful.

On September 14, 2005, 6 lb., 11 oz. baby boy Sean Preston Federline was born in the Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, California by an elective caesarean section.

In late 2005, Spears released a remix album entitled B in the Mix: The Remixes. Purposely lacking promotion of any kind, including new videos, radio singles, or even new artwork, the album debuted at number 134 in the U.S. and sold less than 15,000 copies in its first week of release. A spokesperson for Spears confirmed in late 2005 that Spears was currently working on her fifth studio album, rumored to be titled The Original Doll, scheduled for a release sometime in 2006.The rumored first single off the new album is "So Original" rumored to be released in May 2006.

Controversy

Spears' success has rested on a mixed fanbase. Some parents of young daughters have ambivalent or even negative feelings towards Britney Spears. To many critics, the singer has combined a very raunchy public image with a major marketing "play" for the hearts, minds and pockets of prepubescent girls, often as young as seven or eight. The sexualization of such girls is arguably a trend that is visible elsewhere in popular culture, for example in the film and fashion industries.

This has raised the question of how fast girls or young teens should move from childhood towards an early emotional adolescence. Some parents may worry that Britney Spears provides an unsuitable role model for their daughters' lives and career plans.

In October 2003, Maryland First Lady Kendel Ehrlich, the wife of Governor Robert Ehrlich, was criticized for saying she would like to "shoot Britney Spears" in an address to a domestic violence conference. After her comments made national headlines, she was compelled to apologize.

The sexualized public image of Britney Spears once again became a topic of debate as a result of her 2003 semi-nude photo spread for the men's magazine, Esquire. Prompted by this, Playboy reportedly offered the star over a million USD to pose nude for their magazine. Spears has publicly declined the offer. [5]

One of the more common criticisms linked with Spears is that of lip-synching. Most critics and musicians (at least in public) express a negative view on this way of performing, arguing that live entertainment should literally be what it suggests, singing included. Some argue that Spears, like other performers, can't practically sing while being engaged in complicated and demanding dance moves. Also, some see it as little different than lip-synching in music videos, which is standard. Also, defenders will distinguish between lip-synching to one's own pre-recorded music (which is widely conceded) and lip-synching to music sung entirely by others (which is denied and disputed). [6]

The 2004 Onyx Hotel Tour brought new criticism. While Spears and her on-stage dancers performed her songs "Touch of My Hand" and "Breathe on Me", they were seemingly nude and were performing explicit routines simulating gay sex, orgies and masturbation. Given that some underage fans were in the audience, there was some outrage at the lack of subtlety of the performances, and there were reports of adult chaperones angrily storming out with children they brought to the concert.

While young girls seldom address this debate in the same terms as their parents, many are divided on whether they consider Britney Spears appealing, especially in the light of more recent developments in her career. For her part, Spears has responded to their concerns by stating she is "not their babysitter. It's the parents' responsibility. If you don't like it, turn the T.V. off. The only person I want to be a role model is to my sister, Jamie Lynn." (From ABC's Primetime interview with Diane Sawyer).

The criticisms leveled against Spears are similar to those Madonna received at the start of her career. Indeed, Madonna's early fans belonged to a similar demographic to Spears' current fanbase. Spears' show-stealing kiss with Madonna at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards received much media attention, as have her recent marriages. Her provocative image and, ironically, seemingly down-to-earth personality have both equally contributed to her success. Many have compared Spears to a young Madonna.

In common with a number of other popular female figures in show business, Britney Spears' private life has attracted considerable media attention. Indeed, some people feel she has courted it by cultivating, in her early years at least, a chaste, God-fearing and "wholesome" image somewhat at odds, not only with the traditional pressures, temptations and opportunities of "pop 'n' roll", but with the increasingly sexualized content of her own songs. Regardless of where the responsibility for the gossip industry surrounding the pop star lies, Spears' public response has been to repeatedly express regret and resentment at the intrusive media coverage.

Career achievements

  • According to the VH1 special "The Fabulous Life Of... Britney & Kevin" and TIME, Spears has sold over seventy-six million records worldwide.
  • Having thirty-one million RIAA-certified albums in the U.S., Spears ranks as the eighth best-selling female artist in American Music history. [7]
  • Only female artist in SoundScan history to have her first four albums debut at number one on the Billboard 200 chart.
  • In the U.S., Spears, Madonna, Céline Dion, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Shania Twain and the Dixie Chicks are the only female artists with multiple diamond (shipped over ten million copies) albums (Spears has two: ...Baby One More Time and Oops!... I Did It Again).
  • Artist with the most retired videos on TRL U.S. with a total of fifteen.
  • Holds the record for youngest artist (at age seventeen) to have his or her first single ("...Baby One More Time") and first album (...Baby One More Time) simultaneously reach number one on the Billboard charts.
  • ...Baby One More Time is the best-selling album by a teenager in history.
  • "...Baby One More Time" is the twenty-fourth best-selling single of all time in the U.K.
  • Holds the record for biggest first-week album sales by a female artist in history (1.3 million copies) for Oops!... I Did It Again.
  • Holds the record in the U.K. for biggest first-week sales for a greatest hits compilation by a female artist (115,341 copies) with Greatest Hits: My Prerogative.
  • Has grossed over $145 million USD from tour ticket sales.
  • Holds the record for first-week gross for a fragrance with "Curious". "Curious" also went on to become the biggest-selling fragrance of 2004. To-date, "Curious" has grossed over $100 million USD worldwide.
  • Has grossed over $30 million USD in merchandise from her tours.
  • Has topped Yahoo!'s annual list of the most-searched names three times in the past four years. [8]

Voice

Although Britney Spears does not have the power of Whitney Houston or the range of Mariah Carey, Britney's sweet vocal style has helped bring the pop soubrette back into popularity. After a decade of powerful volumnious singing, heavily ornamented with lots of altitude, melisma, and other acrobatics, Britney's voice was seen as distinctive when she first came out in 1998. Although there has been some controversy over her singing abilities, with some even accusing her of lacking them or being a studio creation, her style has remained consistent. Her singing style (although not herself) has become somewhat of a staple in hip-hop music, especially in the hook of the song. Artists such as Ashanti, Solange Knowles and Lea have borrowed a page from her stylebook. Her detractors have accused her of being derivate of Paula Abdul, Madonna and especially Janet Jackson, a claim Spears has not outwardly denied nor confirmed, saying "she grew up loving a wide variety of music."

Although her range continues to be disputed and is subject to argument, her classification as a soubrette is due to her singing style, which is light, sweet and girly. One should note that Spears sang rangier material before her debut with Jive Records. While affiliated with Disney, Spears covered the Chaka Khan classic I Feel For You, hitting every riff and note although in a higher tessitura. While in high school, she sang Open Arms in Mariah Carey's key and Minnie Riperton's Take A Trip at various vocal showcases. Neither of the these renditions required extreme coloratura, but did require a lot more vocal altitude than much of her current material requires. Her voice has been classified as Lyric Soprano, a Soubrette or/and a combination of both by spectators. From the reasons above. There has been no official information about Spears' range to end speculation.

Trivia

  • Britney's younger sister, Jamie Lynn Spears, is currently starting a career as an entertainer in the Nickelodeon show Zoey 101 and is rumoured to be dating Jack De Sena
  • Britney herself wrote the theme song "Follow Me" for Zoey 101, though it is sung by Jamie Lynn. Zoey 101 drew record numbers with the premiere of the show which gave the kids channel 1.6 million viewers age 9-14 — its biggest viewership in that demographic for a premiere in eight years.
  • Her older brother, Bryan Spears, is one of her co-managers. Britney's parents, Jamie and Lynne, have divorced.
  • One of Spears' best friends, Jenny, was in the unsuccessful girl-group Innosense. Spears was also a member of the group, but she left and debuted as a solo artist before the band released their first record. One of Spears' closest friends is Felicia Culotta, her assistant.
  • Is an accomplished gymnast (she did a backflip for the "...Baby One More Time" video and several for the New Mickey Mouse Club).
  • In 2001, her supposed death in a car crash was announced on the radio by two Texas DJs as a joke; the radio station was subsequently sued.
  • Spears publicly declared that she was a virgin early in her career and would like to remain one until marriage, but after her split from Justin Timberlake, he revealed that this was no longer true. Spears has been quoted as saying, "I thought he was the one".
  • In 2002, Forbes named Spears the most powerful celebrity in the world.
  • For the film Chicago, producer Harvey Weinstein wanted Spears for the role that eventually went to Lucy Liu. Spears was also offered a role in Scary Movie, but was forced to turn it down, due to concert scheduling. She was considered for the part of Allie Hamilton in The Notebook, but was beat out by Rachel McAdams. She also lost to Jessica Simpson for a role in The Dukes of Hazzard.
  • Strongly supports masturbation and says that it is natural in an interview,once said "people who say they dont masturbate are all liars or not human"
  • Is a good friend of Sarah Michelle Gellar and was asked to appear in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "I Was Made to Love You". She could not appear due to scheduling conflicts, and the role eventually went to Shonda Farr who also did a voice in the Britney's Dance Beat video game.
  • Topped FHM magazine's 2004 U.S. and world polls for sexiest woman.
  • In May 2004 Spears had a Hebrew tattoo (מהש) inked into the nape of her neck. She was under the impression that it meant "new era", while a more scholarly reading would be "protection". A source said, "She's taken Kabbalah pretty seriously and this was a big deal for her." This echoes a similar incident in 2003 when Spears was informed by her friend, actress Taryn Manning, that her hip tattoo (the Japanese Kanji character 奇) read "strange" rather than "mysterious" (see Wiktionary).
  • Her numerous other tattoos include pink dice on her forearm. Her husband, Kevin Federline, has tattooed blue dice. She also has a fairy tattoo.
  • Cites Marilyn Monroe as one of her idols.
  • Has hosted Saturday Night Live twice and been a musical guest three times. Spears also had a notable guest appearance with former cast member, Will Ferrell, in 2003.
  • Spears consults psychics to find out if her husband is cheating.[9]
  • She publicly declared her belief in blind obedience to the President, as reported in an interview on Crossfire and featured in the film Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore: "Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision that he makes and we should just support that, you know, and be faithful in what happens." [10]. Ironically, Spears and Federline were later photographed coming out of a showing of the Moore documentary in Los Angeles, although it is not known whether Spears was simply viewing the film for legal reasons or because of a possible change of opinion regarding Bush and/or the Second Iraq War.
  • Has a character modelled after her on Fairly Odd Parents: Britney-Britney A.K.A. "The Platinum Princess."

Discography

Remixography

Filmography

Year Film/Show Role Other notes
1990s Ruthless! Off-Broadway
1993/1994 The New Mickey Mouse Club Herself
1999 Longshot Flight Attendant Cameo
2002 Crossroads Lucy Wagner
2002 Austin Powers in Goldmember Herself Cameo
2004 Brave New Girl Producer/writer made for TV movie based on the book A Mother's Gift
2007 In the Pink Drew Heart Pre-production

Miscellaneous

Books

Year Book
2000 Britney Spears' Heart-to-Heart
2001 A Mother's Gift
2002 Stages
2003 Britney Spears' Crossroads Diary

DVDs

Year DVD U.S. peak U.S. certification
1999 Time Out with Britney Spears 3x Platinum
2001 Britney Spears - Live and More! 4 3x Platinum
2001 Britney - The Videos 1 (Debut/2 weeks) 2x Platinum
2002 Live from Las Vegas 1 (Debut/6 weeks) 2x Platinum
2004 In the Zone 1 (Debut/1 week) Platinum
2004 Greatest Hits: My Prerogative 1 (Debut/3 weeks) 2x Platinum

Select merchandise

Tours

Year Tour
1998 Hair Zone Mall Tour
1998 Opened for *NSYNC
1999 ...Baby One More Time Tour
2000 Crazy 2K Tour
2000 Oops!... I Did It Again World Tour
2001/2002 Dream Within a Dream Tour
2004 The Onyx Hotel Tour

See also

References

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