By Rubab Ali
Birth name: Britney Jean Spears
Birth date: December 2, 1981 (age 33)
Birth place: McComb, Mississippi, U.S.
Origin: Kentwood, Louisiana, U.S.
Parents: James Parnell Spears (father), Lynne Irene (mother)
Siblings: Bryan James (elder brother), Jamie Lynn Spears (younger sister)
Occupations: Singer, songwriter, dancer, actress, record producer, author, fashion designer, video director, entertainer
Years active: 1992- present
Instruments: Vocals, piano
Genres: Pop, dance-pop, electro-pop
Spears became an international pop culture icon immediately after launching her recording career. Her name is an anagram of “Presbyterians.” She started attending dance and voice lessons as a child. When she was eight, she and her mother travelled to Atlanta for an audition in 1990s revival of “The Mickey Mouse Club”. Though the Casting director was impressed with her vocals but rejected her for being too young to join the series, however he introduced her to a New York City talent agent. She and her mother then moved to NY and Britney was subsequently hired to perform in stage productions, television shows and commercials. In 1992, she was finally cast in “The Mickey Mouse Club”, but returned to Kentwood after the show was cancelled.
In 1997, she joined the female American pop group “Innosense”, but soon disbanded, deciding to go solo. Their family friend and entertainment lawyer pitched her to record labels. She rehearsed an unused song of Toni Braxton for a week, recorded her vocals, travelled to NY and met with executives from four labels. Three of the labels rejected her, arguing that audiences wanted pop bands such as the Backstreet Boys and the Spice Girls, and “there wasn’t going to be another Madonna, or Debbie Gibson, or Tiffany.” Two weeks later, executives from Jive Records returned calls to their lawyer, stating, “It’s very rare to hear someone that age who can deliver emotional content and commercial appeal.” She then sang Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” for the executives and got signed to the label. She worked with a producer for a month, who shaped her voice from “lower and less poppy” delivery to “distinctively, unmistakably Britney.” After hearing the recorded material, she was ordered a full album.
Her debut album, “…Baby One More Time” (1999), topped the charts in fifteen countries, securing a place in Guinness World Records as the bestselling album ever by a teenage solo artist. Following her debut, Brit was credited with leading the revival of teen pop in the late 1990s. Her second studio album, “Oops!… I Did It Again” (2000), was another mammoth international success. Both the title tracks became international #1 hits and broke sales records. Her third album, “Britney” (2001), followed the same feat and was listed in 2008 as one of Entertainment Weekly’s “100 Best Albums from the Past 25 Years”. The album’s first single, “I’m a Slave 4 U”, became a top-ten hit worldwide. Following year, Forbes magazine ranked her the world’s most powerful celebrity, highlighting her remarkable career success. Brit also landed her first starring role in American comedy-drama road film “Crossroads” (2002) which grossed over $57 million worldwide and helped her win her first acting award, a Golden Raspberry for Worst Actress!
Her fourth album, “In the Zone” (2003), topped charts, spawning hit singles: “Me Against the Music”, “Toxic”—which won Spears her only Grammy, “Everytime”—written in response to her boyfriend, Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River”, and “Outrageous”. In January 2004, she married childhood friend Jason Alexander in Las Vegas but the marriage was annulled 55 hours later. Eight months later, she married American dancer Kevin Federline. The stages of their relationship were chronicled in her first reality show “Britney & Kevin: Chaotic” (2005) which produced only five episodes with the tagline, “Can You Handle Our Truth?” The show was heavily criticized by critics, being deemed as a career suicide for Brit. She then took a career break to start a family. They had two children but the couple divorced in July 2007 and agreed to share joint custody of her children. Following her divorce and subsequent death of her dear aunt, Brit went through a difficult time; she started partying vigorously, adding tattoos, abusing drugs and alcohol, shaved her head, clearly requiring aid, she therefore went in rehab and was admitted to several hospitals and treatment centers. In October 2007, due to her untrustworthy and fly-by-night conduct, she first lost physical, then sole and legal custody of her children to Federline.
Despite receiving little promotion, her fifth album “Blackout” (2007), managed to peak at #2 on Billboard —her only album which didn’t debut at #1 but spawned singles “Gimme More” and “Piece of Me” and was listed as the fifth ‘Best Pop Album of the Decade’ by The Times. In 2008, her unpredictable behaviour and hospitalizations caused her to be placed under a conservatorship. Same year, a 60-minute documentary, “Britney: For the Record” (2008), which chronicles Spears’s return to the recording industry; was broadcast on MTV to 5.6 million viewers for two airings on the premiere night, the highest rating in the network’s history! Her sixth album, “Circus” (2008), earned her a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest female artist to have five albums debut at #1 in the U.S., and generated global chart-topping lead single “Womanizer”, which was her first #1 on the Billboard since “…Baby One More Time”, and hits “Circus” and “If U Seek Amy”. Her supporting tour “The Circus Starring Britney Spears” was the highest-grossing global concert tour in 2009, grossing $131.8 million!
Her seventh album, “Femme Fatale” (2011), became her first to yield three top ten singles in the U.S.: “Hold It Against Me”, “Till the World Ends” and “I Wanna Go”. Its peak in the U.S. ties Britney with Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson for the third-most #1s among women. Same year, she gained her fifth #1 single as the featured artist on the remix of Rihanna’s “S&M”. She was also featured on the single “Scream & Shout” (2012) off will.i.am’s album “#willpower” (2013) which became a global success, topping the charts in over eighteen countries. Same year, she served as a judge on the second season of the American version of “The X Factor”, with a reported salary of $15 million, becoming the highest-paid judge on a singing competition series in television history. But she will not return for its third season and is currently working on her eighth studio album that will be released through RCA Records due to the disbandment of Jive Records. Brit is also recognized for one of the best-selling celebrity fragrance line in the market. Her first fragrance with Elizabeth Arden, “Curious” (2004), broke the company’s first-week gross for a perfume. Worldwide, Spears has sold over one billion bottles in only five years, which earned her an estimated $1.5 billion! Her twelfth scent is expected in April, 2013. She also has two wax statues at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and one in tribute to her big VMA win in 2009.
During her first decade in the music industry, she became a prominent figure in mainstream popular music and popular culture, followed by a much-publicized personal life. She became the ‘best-selling teenaged artist of all time’ before she turned 20, garnering her honorific titles such as “Princess of Pop”. Her work has earned her numerous awards and accolades, including a Grammy, six MTV VMAs including the Lifetime Achievement Award, nine Billboard Music Awards, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Rolling Stone recognized her instant success as one of the Top 25 Teen Idol Breakout Moments of all time, while VH1 ranked her eleventh on their “100 Greatest Women in Music” list in 2012. Forbes magazine named her music’s top earning woman of 2012, with earnings of $58 million. She was named as the most searched person of the decade 2000-09, earning her a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Spears is the most followed person on Google’s social network, Google+ and was the first person to reach over 1 million followers and the sixth person on Twitter to reach 10 million followers!
Spears has been a musical inspiration and a major influence on many contemporary as well as new artists, including fellow X-Factor judge Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, Kristinia DeBarge, Little Boots, Marina and the Diamonds, Pixie Lott, Girls’ Generation, The Saturdays, Beyoncé Knowles, Fergie of The Black Eyed Peas and the list goes on. Spears was honoured with the 2011 MTV Video Vanguard Award by Lady Gaga, for having made a profound effect on the MTV culture, with Gaga stating that Spears “taught us all how to be fearless, and the industry wouldn’t be the same without her.” On January 8, 2014, Spears won Favourite Pop Artist at the 40th People’s Choice Awards at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. On August 28, 2014, it was confirmed that Spears has renewed her contract with RCA, and that she is writing and recording new music for her next album.
Studio Albums: 8
Compilation Albums: 7
Remix Albums: 2
Promotional Singles: 2
Guest Appearances: 3