Britney Spears (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Britney Jean Spears (born December 2, 1981) is an American recording artist and entertainer. Born in McComb, Mississippi, and raised in Kentwood, Louisiana, she began performing as a child, landing acting roles in stage productions and television shows. She signed with Jive Records in 1997 and released her debut studio album ...Baby One More Time in 1999, which became the best-selling album by a teenage solo artist. 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. Her first two albums established her as a pop icon and broke sales records, while title tracks "...Baby One More Time" and "Oops!... I Did It Again" became international number-one hits. Spears was credited with influencing the revival of teen pop during the late 1990s, and became the 'best-selling teenaged artist of all time' before she turned 20, garnering her honorific titles such as "Princess of Pop".
In 2001, she released her third album Britney and expanded her brand, playing the starring role in the film Crossroads. She assumed creative control of her fourth studio album, In the Zone (2003), which yielded chart-topping singles "Me Against the Music", "Toxic" and "Everytime". After the release of two compilation albums, Spears experienced personal struggles and her career went into hiatus. Her fifth studio album, Blackout (2007), spawned hits "Gimme More" and "Piece of Me" despite receiving little promotion. In 2008, her erratic behavior and hospitalizations caused her to be placed in a conservatorship. Later in the year, her sixth album Circus was released, with the global chart-topping lead single "Womanizer", and hits such as "Circus" and "If U Seek Amy". She embarked on her highest-grossing global concert tour, The Circus Starring Britney Spears, in 2009. In October of the same year, she released a chart-topping single, "3", which became her third single to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Her seventh album Femme Fatale (2011) became the first of her albums to yield three top ten singles in the United States, "Hold It Against Me", "Till the World Ends" and "I Wanna Go". The same year, she gained her fifth number one single when she featured on the remix of "S&M" alongside Rihanna.
Spears's work has earned her numerous awards and accolades, including a Grammy Award, 6 MTV Video Music Awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award, 9 Billboard Music Awards, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2009, Billboard ranked her as the 8th overall Artist of the Decade, and also recognized her as the best-selling female artist of the first decade of the 21st century, as well as the fifth overall. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) also recognized Spears as the eighth top-selling female artist in the United States, with 34 million certified albums. Nielsen SoundScan ranked Spears the tenth best-selling digital artist of the country, with more than 28.6 million digital singles as of January 2012. She has sold over 100 million albums worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time. 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, and Billboard named her the sexiest woman in music. Forbes also revealed that Spears was the highest paid female musician of 2012, ranking in $58 million, having last topped the list in 2002.
Life and career
1981-97: Early life and career beginnings
Britney Jean Spears was born on December 2, 1981, the second child of Lynne Irene (née Bridges) and James Parnell Spears. Her maternal grandmother, Lillian Portell, was English (born in London), and one of Spears's maternal great-great-grandfathers was Maltese. Her siblings are Bryan James and Jamie Lynn. At age three, she started attending dance lessons in her hometown of Kentwood, Louisiana, and was selected to perform as a solo artist at the annual recital. During her childhood, she also attended gymnastics and voice lessons, and won many state-level competitions and children's talent shows. Spears made her local stage debut at age five, singing "What Child Is This?" at her kindergarten graduation. She said about her ambition as a child, "I was in my own world, [...] I found out what I'm supposed to do at an early age". At age eight, Spears and her mother Lynne traveled to Atlanta for an audition in the 1990s revival of The Mickey Mouse Club. Casting director Matt Casella rejected her for being too young to join the series at the time, but introduced her to Nancy Carson, a New York City talent agent. Carson was impressed with Spears's vocals and suggested enrolling her at the Professional Performing Arts School; shortly after, Lynne and her daughters moved to a sublet apartment in New York. Spears was hired for her first professional role as the understudy for the lead role of Tina Denmark in the Off-Broadway musical Ruthless!. She also appeared as a contestant on the popular television show Star Search and was cast in a number of commercials. In December 1992, she was finally cast in The Mickey Mouse Club, but returned to Kentwood after the show was canceled. She enrolled at Parklane Academy in nearby McComb, Mississippi. Although she made friends with most of her classmates, she compared the school to "the opening scene in Clueless with all the cliques. [...] I was so bored. I was the point guard on the basketball team. I had my boyfriend, and I went to homecoming and Christmas formal. But I wanted more."
In June 1997, Spears was in talks with manager Lou Pearlman to join the female pop group Innosense. Lynne asked family friend and entertainment lawyer Larry Rudolph for his opinion and submitted a tape of Spears singing over a Whitney Houston karaoke song along with some pictures. Rudolph decided he wanted to pitch her to record labels, therefore she needed a professional demo. He sent Spears an unused song of Toni Braxton; she rehearsed for a week and recorded her vocals in a studio with a sound engineer. Spears traveled to New York with the demo and met with executives from four labels, returning to Kentwood the same day. 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, another Debbie Gibson, or another Tiffany." Two weeks later, executives from Jive Records returned calls to Rudolph. Senior vice president of A&R Jeff Fenster stated about Spears's audition that "It's very rare to hear someone that age who can deliver emotional content and commercial appeal. [...] For any artist, the motivation"the 'eye of the tiger'"is extremely important. And Britney had that." She then sang Houston's "I Have Nothing" (1992) for the executives, and got signed to the label. They appointed her to work with producer Eric Foster White for a month, who reportedly shaped her voice from "lower and less poppy" delivery to "distinctively, unmistakably Britney." After hearing the recorded material, president Clive Calder ordered a full album. Spears had originally envisioned "Sheryl Crow music, but younger more adult contemporary" but felt all right with her label's appointment of producers, since "It made more sense to go pop, because I can dance to it"it's more me." She flew to Cheiron Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, where half of the album was recorded from March to April 1998, with producers Max Martin, Denniz Pop and Rami Yacoub, among others.
1998-2000: ...Baby One More Time and Oops!... I Did It Again
After Spears returned to the United States, she embarked on a shopping mall promotional tour to promote her forthcoming album. Her show was a four song set and she was accompanied by two back up dancers. Her first concert tour followed, as an opening act for 'N Sync. Her debut album, ...Baby One More Time, was released on January 1999. It debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 and was certified two-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America after a month. Worldwide, the album topped the charts in fifteen countries and sold over ten million copies in a year. It became the biggest selling album ever by a teenage artist. The title track was released as the lead single from the album. Originally, Jive Records wanted its music video to be animated; however, Spears rejected it, and suggested the final idea of a Catholic schoolgirl. The single sold 500,000 copies on its first day, and peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, topping the chart for two consecutive weeks. "...Baby One More Time" later received a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. The title track also topped the singles chart for two weeks in the United Kingdom, and became the fastest-selling single ever by a female artist, shipping over 460,000 copies. It would later become the 25th most successful song of all time in British chart history. Spears is also the youngest female artist to have a million seller in the country. "(You Drive Me) Crazy" was released as the third single from the album. It became a top-ten hit worldwide and propelled ...Baby One More Time to sell 26 million copies.
The April 1999 cover of Rolling Stone featured Spears lying on her bed, clad with a bra, shorts and an open top. The American Family Association (AFA) referred to the shoot as "a disturbing mix of childhood innocence and adult sexuality" and called to "God-loving Americans to boycott stores selling Britney's albums." Spears responded to the outcry commenting, "What's the big deal? I have strong morals. [...] I'd do it again. I thought the pictures were fine. And I was tired of being compared to Debbie Gibson and all of this bubblegum pop all the time." Shortly before, Spears had announced publicly she would remain a virgin until marriage. On June 28, 1999, Spears began her first headlining ...Baby One More Time Tour in North America, which was positively received by critics, but generated some controversy due to her racy outfits. An extension of the tour, titled Crazy 2k, followed in March 2000. Spears premiered songs from her upcoming second album during the show.
Oops!... I Did It Again, her second studio album, was released in May 2000. It debuted at number one in the US, selling 1.3 million copies, breaking the SoundScan record for the highest debut sales by any solo artist. The album sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone said that "the great thing about Oops! - under the cheese surface, Britney's demand for satisfaction is complex, fierce and downright scary, making her a true child of rock & roll tradition." The album's lead single, "Oops!... I Did It Again", peaked at the top of the charts in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and many other European nations. The album as well as the title track received Grammy nominations for Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, respectively.
The same year, Spears embarked on the Oops!... I Did It Again World Tour, which grossed $40.5 million; she also released her first book, Britney Spears' Heart-to-Heart, co-written with her mother. On September 7, 2000, Spears performed at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards. Halfway through the performance, she ripped off her black suit to reveal a sequined flesh-colored bodysuit, followed by heavy dance routine. It is noted by critics as the moment that Spears showed signs of becoming a more provocative performer. Amidst media speculation, Spears confirmed she was dating 'N Sync member Justin Timberlake.
2001-03: Britney, Crossroads, and In the Zone
In February 2001, Spears signed a $7-8 million promotional deal with Pepsi, and released another book co-written with her mother, entitled A Mother"s Gift. Her third studio album, Britney, was released in November 2001. While on tour, she felt inspired by hip hop artists such as Jay-Z and The Neptunes and wanted to create a record with a funkier sound. The album debuted at number one in the Billboard 200 and reached top five positions in Australia, the United Kingdom and mainland Europe and sold over 12 million copies worldwide. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic called Britney "the record where she strives to deepen her persona, making it more adult while still recognizably Britney. [...] It does sound like the work of a star who has now found and refined her voice, resulting in her best record yet." The album was honored with two Grammy nominations"Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Overprotected"" 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.
Spears's performance of the single at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards featured a caged tiger and a large albino python draped over her shoulders. It was harshly received by animal rights organization PETA, who claimed the animals were mistreated and scrapped plans for an anti-fur billboard that was to feature Spears. To support the album, Spears embarked on the Dream Within a Dream Tour. The show was critically praised for its technical innovations, the pièce de résistance being a water screen that pumped two tons of water into the stage. The tour grossed $43.7 million, becoming the second highest grossing tour of 2002 by a female artist, behind Cher's Farewell Tour. Her career success was highlighted by Forbes in 2002, as Spears was ranked the world's most powerful celebrity. Spears also landed her first starring role in Crossroads, released in February 2002. Although the film was largely panned, some critics praised Spears's acting. Crossroads, which had a $11 million budget, went on to gross over $57 million worldwide.
In June 2002, Spears opened her first restaurant, Nyla, in New York City, but terminated her relationship in November, citing mismanagement and "management's failure to keep her fully apprised". In July 2002, Spears announced she would take a six month break from her career; however, she went back into the studio in November to record her new album. Spears' relationship with Justin Timberlake ended after three years. In December 2002, Timberlake released the song "Cry Me a River" as the second single from his solo debut album. The music video featured a Spears look-alike and fueled the rumors that she had been unfaithful to him. As a response, Spears wrote the ballad "Everytime" with her backing vocalist and friend Annet Artani. The same year, Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst said that he was in a relationship with Spears. However, Spears denied Durst's claims. In a 2009 interview, he explained that "I just guess at the time it was taboo for a guy like me to be associated with a gal like her." Spears opened the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards with Christina Aguilera, performing "Like a Virgin". Halfway through they were joined by Madonna, with whom they both kissed. The incident was highly publicized.
Spears released her fourth studio album, In the Zone, in November 2003. She assumed more creative control by writing and co-producing most of the material. Vibe called it "A supremely confident dance record that also illustrates Spears's development as a songwriter." NPR listed the album as one of "The 50 Most Important Recording of the Decade", adding that "the decade's history of impeccably crafted pop is written on her body of work." In the Zone sold over 609,000 copies in the United States and debuted at the top of the charts, making Spears the first female artist in the SoundScan era to have her first four studio albums to debut at number one. It also debuted at the top of the charts in France and the top ten in Belgium, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands. In the Zone sold over 10 million copies worldwide. The album produced the hit singles: "Me Against the Music", a collaboration with Madonna; "Toxic""which won Spears her only Grammy for Best Dance Recording; "Everytime" and "Outrageous".
2004-06: Marriage and motherhood
In January 2004, Spears married childhood friend Jason Allen Alexander at The Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. The marriage was annulled 55 hours later, stating that Spears "lacked understanding of her actions". In March 2004, she embarked on The Onyx Hotel Tour in support of In the Zone. In June 2004, Spears fell and injured her left knee during the music video shoot for "Outrageous". Spears underwent arthroscopic surgery. She was forced to remain six weeks with a thigh brace, followed by eight to twelve weeks of rehabilitation, which caused The Onyx Hotel Tour to be canceled. During 2004, Spears became involved in the Kabbalah Centre through her friendship with Madonna.
In July 2004, Spears became engaged to American dancer Kevin Federline, whom she had met three months before. The romance received intense attention from the media, since Federline had recently broken up with actress Shar Jackson, who was still pregnant with their second child at the time. The initial stages of their relationship were chronicled in Spears's first reality show Britney & Kevin: Chaotic. They held a wedding ceremony on September 18, 2004, but were not legally married until three weeks later on October 6 due to a delay finalizing the couple's prenuptial agreement. Shortly after, she released her first fragrance with Elizabeth Arden, Curious, which broke the company's first-week gross for a perfume. In October 2004, Spears took a career break to start a family. Greatest Hits: My Prerogative, her first greatest hits compilation album, was released in November 2004. Spears's cover version of Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative" was released as the lead single from the album, reaching the top of the charts in Finland, Ireland, Italy and Norway. The second single, "Do Somethin'", was a top ten hit in Australia, the United Kingdom and other countries of mainland Europe. The greatest hits album sold over 5 million copies worldwide. In September 2005, Spears gave birth to her first child, Sean Preston Federline.
In November 2005, she released her first remix compilation, B in the Mix: The Remixes, which consists of eleven remixes. It has sold over 1 million copies worldwide. In February 2006, pictures surfaced of Spears driving with her son Sean, on her lap instead of in a car seat. Child advocates were horrified by the photos of her holding the wheel with one hand and Sean with the other. Spears claimed that the situation happened because of a frightening encounter with paparazzi, and that it was a mistake on her part. The following month, she guest-starred on the Will & Grace episode "Buy, Buy Baby" as closeted lesbian Amber Louise. She announced she no longer studied Kabbalah in June 2006, explaining, "my baby is my religion." Two months later, Spears posed nude for the cover of Harper's Bazaar. The picture was heavily compared to Demi Moore's August 1991 Vanity Fair cover. In September 2006, she gave birth to her second child, Jayden James Federline. In November 2006, Spears filed for divorce from Federline, citing irreconcilable differences. Their divorce was finalized in July 2007, when the couple reached a global settlement and agreed to share joint custody of their children.
2007: Personal struggles and Blackout
Spears's aunt Sandra Bridges Covington, with whom she had been very close, died of ovarian cancer in January. In February 2007, Spears stayed in a drug rehabilitation facility in Antigua for less than a day. The following night, she shaved her head with electric clippers at a hair salon in Tarzana, Los Angeles. She admitted herself to other treatment facilities during the following weeks. In May 2007, she produced a series of promotional concerts at House of Blues venues, titled [[The M+M's Tour]]. In October 2007, Spears lost physical custody of her children to Federline. The reasons of the court ruling were not revealed to the public. Spears was also sued by Louis Vuitton over her 2005 music video "Do Somethin'" for pimping out her Hummer interior in counterfeit Louis Vuitton cherry blossom fabric, which resulted in her video being banned on European TV stations.
In October 2007, Spears released her fifth studio album, Blackout. The album debuted at the top of charts in Canada and Ireland, number two in the U.S. Billboard 200, France, Japan, Mexico and the United Kingdom and the top ten in Australia, Korea, New Zealand and many European nations. In the United States, Spears became the only female artist to have her first five studio albums debut at the two top slots of the chart. The album received positive reviews from critics and has sold over 3 million copies worldwide. Blackout won Album of the Year at MTV Europe Music Awards 2008 and was listed as the fifth Best Pop Album of the Decade by The Times. Spears performed the lead single "Gimme More" at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards. The performance was panned by many critics. Despite the backlash, the single rocketed to worldwide success, peaking at number one in Canada and the top ten in almost every country it charted. The second single "Piece of Me" reached the top of the charts in Ireland and reached the top five in Australia, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The third single "Break the Ice" was released the following year and had moderate success due to Spears not being able to promote it properly. In December 2007, Spears began a relationship with paparazzo Adnan Ghalib.
2008-10: Conservatorship and Circus
In January 2008, Spears refused to relinquish custody of her sons to Federline's representatives. She was hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, after police that arrived at her house noted she appeared to be under the influence of an illicit substance. The following day, Spears's visitation rights were suspended at an emergency court hearing, and Federline was given sole physical and legal custody of the children. She was committed to the psychiatric ward of Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and put on 5150 involuntary psychiatric hold. The court placed her under temporary conservatorship of her father James Spears and attorney Andrew Wallet, giving them complete control of her assets. She was released five days later. The following month, she guest-starred on the How I Met Your Mother episode "Ten Sessions" as receptionist Abby. She received positive reviews for her performance, as well as bringing the series its highest ratings ever. In July 2008, Spears regained some visitation rights after coming to an agreement with Federline and his counsel. In September 2008, Spears opened the MTV Video Music Awards with a pre-taped comedy sketch with Jonah Hill and an introduction speech. She won Best Female Video, Best Pop Video and Video of the Year for "Piece of Me". A 60-minute introspective documentary, Britney: For the Record, was produced to chronicle Spears's return to the recording industry. Directed by Phil Griffin, For the Record was entirely shot in Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and New York City during the third quarter of 2008. The documentary was broadcast on MTV to 5.6 million viewers for the two airings on the premiere night. It was the highest rating in its Sunday night timeslot and in the network's history.
In December 2008, Spears' sixth studio album Circus was released. It received positive reviews from critics and debuted at number one in Canada, Czech Republic and the United States, and inside the top in many European nations. In the United States, Spears became the youngest female artist to have five albums debut at number one, earning a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. She also became the only act in the Soundscan era to have four albums debut with 500,000 or more copies sold. The album was one of the fastest-selling albums of the year, and has sold 4 million copies worldwide. Its lead single, "Womanizer", became Spears' first number one in the Billboard Hot 100 since "...Baby One More Time". The single also topped the charts in Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Norway and Sweden. It was also nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Dance Recording. In January 2009, Spears and her father James obtained a restraining order against her former manager Sam Lutfi, ex-boyfriend Adnan Ghalib and attorney Jon Eardley"all of whom, court documents claim, had been conspiring to gain control of Spears's affairs. The restraining order forbids Lutfi and Ghalib from contacting Spears or coming within 250 yards of her, her property or family members. Spears embarked on The Circus Starring Britney Spears in March 2009. With a gross of U.S. $131.8 million, it became the fifth highest grossing tour of the year.
In November 2009, Spears released her second greatest hits album, The Singles Collection. The album's lead and only single, "3" became her third number one single in the U.S. 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. In September 2010, she made a cameo appearance on a Spears-themed tribute episode of American TV show Glee, titled "Britney/Brittany". The episode drew Glee's highest ratings ever.
2011-present: Femme Fatale and The X Factor
In March 2011, Spears released her seventh studio album Femme Fatale. The album peaked at number one in the United States, Canada, and Australia, and peaked inside the top ten on nearly every other chart. Its peak in the United States ties Britney with Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson for the third-most number ones among women. It has sold 883,000 copies in the United States and 2.2 million worldwide, and has been certified platinum by the RIAA. The album's lead single "Hold It Against Me" debuted at number-one on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Spears' fourth number-one single on the chart and making her the second artist in history to have two consecutive singles debut at number-one, after Mariah Carey. The second single "Till The World Ends" reached peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 in May, while the third single "I Wanna Go" reached number seven in August. Femme Fatale became Spears' first album in which three of its songs reached the top ten of the chart. The fourth and final single "Criminal" was released in September 2011. The music video 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. 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." In April 2011, Spears appeared in a remix of Rihanna's "S&M". It reached number one in the US later in the month, giving Spears her fifth number one on the chart. On Billboards 2011 Year-End list, Spears was ranked number fourteen on the Artists of the Year, thirty-two on Billboard 200 artists and ten on Billboard Hot 100 artists.
In June 2011, Spears embarked on the Femme Fatale Tour. The tour received positive reviews from many critics noting that Spears sang more of the concert live in response to lip-synching accusations during The Circus Starring Britney Spears, and that the dancin