The return of Britney Spears: How the Princess of pop went from a total trainwreck to being back in the spotlight
Your mind cannot possibly miss out 36-year-old Britney Spears. Mom, resident Vegas performer, the recent face of Kenzo,
Can you think of one pop diva that has always, and still ranks, on your ever-changing playlist? Well,36-year-old Britney Spears: Mom, resident Vegas performer, the recent face of Kenzo, fitness enthusiast, fashionista, adored girlfriend and all around superstar is sure to be one of them.
The popstar's net worth is estimated to be $215million and her Vegas residence show has made about a $100 million in the last few years. According to Billboard, her Piece Of Me show grossed that massive amount even before she finished her designated 250 shows, split over three years. She also chaired as a judge on the talent show 'The X-Factor,' and not to mention has sold more than 150 million records worldwide in a career that has spanned more than two decades.
Spears has lived a life in the spotlight and like many others who've been on the same rollercoaster, suffered at the hands of the fame she worked so hard to garner. Her career started off in 1992 when Brit entered a television show called Star Search, where she debuted her signature deep, but airy vocals. Though she didn't win, she got noticed. Soon after, she landed her first big gig with Disney's,'The All-New Mickey Mouse Club' and the world slowly started seeing a side of Britney Jean Spears. She starred in the show along with future beau Justin Timberlake, the now A-lister Ryan Gosling, and pop diva Christina Aguilera.
One thing visible in her videos even back then, was her presence, even when she's not in an oh-so-sexy avatar but just a pink tee and a skirt, you cannot take your eyes off her. It isn't because she's Britney, because back then, she really wasn't 'The Princess of Pop' yet - it's the way she sings like she's having a ton of fun just being onstage and it is the one thing that still hasn't changed although the pink tees have been replaced by seductive black bustiers.
She still has a lot of fun onstage, just ask the ones who have seen her live recently. She's full of strength, confidence, and energy - the signs of an all-around performer. She loves to entertain and thankfully, it has started loving her back.
It is a little-known fact, but after she received recognition from 'The Mickey Mouse Club' she joined an all-girl band, imagine that, called Innosense. The band was formed in 1997 and was managed by Britney's then manager Lou Pearlman and Lynn Harless, J.T's mom. It had four members, none of whom turned out to be as popular as Spears obviously, so it was definitely a good career choice by Brit to go solo in the same year.
But it wasn't like things really took off - she was rejected by three out of four major labels who felt that bands were what would work as at the time Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls were seen as the epitome of pop success. If only they could recognize the star Spears was going to be. In their heads, they felt that there would never be another Madonna.
The one label that liked her, Jive Records, decided to reach out to her and subsequently, after a grueling one-month session with producer Eric Foster White, she landed a full album deal. At the time, she said that she had imagined herself singing more along the lines of Sheryl Crow's music, but dancy pop tunes made her feel more at home. Then there was no looking back for this songstress - she became unstoppable.
Britney's breakthrough into commercial pop was in 1998 when she sang 'Baby One More Time' in a sexy schoolgirl skirt and an itty-bitty white front open shirt. Her pigtails were in place and her heels screamed rebel - her look was that of a sophisticated 'it' girl, wild, but still very relatable. The album went double platinum in a month and topped charts in 15 countries worldwide and sold over 10 million copies that year! It was also nominated for Best Pop Vocals in the Grammys that year.
Britney, being from a devout Baptist Christian family, did face flak for her sexy siren persona. But Britney, who sang in the Baptist choir as a child, was hardly going to let criticism stop her from embracing her skyrocketing career. Rolling Stone magazine featured her that year on their cover, smoldering in a black bra underneath an open satin shirt sporting a pair of sexy little shorts with it.
The American Family Association thought that the shoot was "a disturbing mix of childhood innocence and adult sexuality" and asked the "God-loving Americans to boycott stores selling Britney's albums". She was also criticized for her racy outfits during her album tour.
Ironically, in the interview with Rolling Stone, she said, "You want to be a good example for kids out there and not do something stupid. Kids have low self-esteem, and then the peer pressures come and they go into a wrong crowd. That's when all the bad stuff starts happening, drugs and stuff. I think if they find something that keeps them happy — writing, drawing, anything like that — then they'll have confidence."
Bang! Brit's first controversy. Of course, this is nothing compared to the one she would have almost 10 years later, but more on that later.
She shelled out hit after hit post her debut album's success - the disco tune '(You Drive Me) Crazy', the hopeless romantic 'Oops! I did it again!', the coming of age 'Overprotected', and the uber sexy 'I'm a Slave 4 U'.
She created quite the controversy at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards, this time offending PETA, after her performance featured a tiger in the same cage as her as she crooned to her chart-topping worldwide hit 'I'm a Slave 4 U'.
The performance also featured an albino python wrapped around her shouldera, as she sang, "All you people look at me like I'm a little girl, Well did you ever think it'd be ok for me to step into this world". PETA, angered by the show, cut Britney from an anti-fur campaign. She also dabbled with acting, starring in the 2002 coming of age drama, Crossroads. She received positive critical acclaim for the role that was a success and grossed $61.1 million worldwide.
Dream Within a Dream Tour, her second big one, made her even more money. It grossed $43.7 million, bringing it neck to neck with Cher's Farewell Tour. She was becoming somebody big - and she knew it. In 2002, Forbes called Spears the world's most powerful celebrity.
She was now controversy's favorite child, though still successful. In 2003, she kissed Madonna during their performance with Christina Aguilera on stage, making everyone wonder what was going on with Brit. Then she released her fourth studio album, 'In The Zone' that had three massive hits - the mile high club tune 'Toxic', 'Me Against the Music' that featured Madonna, and the heartbreaking track 'Everytime'. This album not only showcased Britney's vocal range, but also displayed the variety of styles, all in one album. It sold over 10 million copies worldwide.
2004 was when her fall started. On a whim, she decided to tie the knot with her childhood friend Jason Allen Alexander at a little white wedding chapel in Las Vegas, Nevada. The marriage lasted a total of 55 hours, bolstering Spears's wild-child reputation. It was a domino effect, things just kept going haywire for the original Queen B. She injured herself during the filming of the music video for 'Outrageous' with Snoop Dogg on the streets of New York. The record label, Jive Records, dismissed it as an earlier dance injury that had acted up but Britney was left in bed for six weeks.
In the summer of the same year, she tied the knot again - this time with dancer Kevin Federline and she's still reaping what she sowed. The two have been stuck in a child support battle for quite some time now. Basically, he wants more money from her, even though he gets an allowance of $20K, but wants $20K more. Anyway, their romance was doomed from the beginning, she had only known Federline for three months and when they got married, his ex, actress Shar Jackson, was pregnant with their second child. She took a career break soon after to start a family and the couple had their first son, Sean Preston in 2005.
A couple of months later, she was spotted in LA with her son on her lap instead of a car seat. Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services gets involved but the matter was dismissed. Sean then fell in their home off a high chair, then again when she went to get coffee with him in New York. By this time she was the number one celebrity on the Child Protective services' radar.
Soon after, she announced that she was pregnant with a second child - Jayden James. For a while it appeared that the couple's relationship wasn't as chaotic. They were appearing in award shows together and looked happier than ever, but in a shocking turn of events, after making her first post-baby appearance on the 'Late Show With David Letterman,' the very next day she filed for divorce and told Kevin over a text message.
She also asked for sole custody of her kids following which a battle ensued. The two went head to head. During this time, Brit was spotted partying with Paris Hilton explicitly without any underwear. After facing flak for it, she went on to her website to comment that she got a little carried away and said, "Thank God for Victoria's Secret!"
The whole situation was starting to look super bleak for Brit and her partying ways only got crazier and her apologies stopped coming. Perhaps it was a way for her to deal with everything that had happened after 2004 because in retrospect, it does look like a teen acting out when life doesn't bend to their will. The only difference was, she wasn't a teen and she was responsible for two very young kids.
It was around the same time that Spears was sued by Louis Vuitton over using fake LV merchandise for her previous video 'Do Somethin' released in 2005, which led to it being banned everywhere on European radio.
Then, on Valentine's Day 2007, after Kevin and her had settled on joint custody, she checked into a rehabilitation facility in the Caribbean islands, called Crossroads Centre. She checked out a day later and gave the paps pics of her worst meltdown. On February 16, 2007 she walked into a salon in Sherman Oaks, California and shaved all her blonde locks off.
She checked into rehab again, this time closer to home in Malibu at the Promises Malibu Alcohol and Drug Rehab Treatment Facility, but like last time checked out a day later. This time, it was for an emergency court hearing, following which she completed her time there. The former couple too, settled their differences though remained separated.
But Brit's meltdown was far from being done, she fired her longtime manager Larry Rudolph and her bodyguard Tony Barretto after he failed to pick up her hat. Tony later blows back at Brit saying that he had witnessed "nudity, drug use and safety issues" involving her two kids. While these allegations were still in the wind, she violated the custody law and took off with her kids to Las Vegas and got into a fight with the paparazzi, beating one with an umbrella.
Then came her now infamous apology letter, where she wrote, "Till this day I don't think it was alcohol or depression. I was like a bad kid running around with ADD.
Soon after, she was caught driving without a license in California and fled the scene. She was asked to take random drug tests along with counseling and parenting classes by an LA judge.
It was another such incident, where she is caught driving without a license and safety guidelines for her kids, that led Britney to lose her kids to Kevin temporarily. This drama seemed neverending, until the fateful night in January 2008 when she really hit rock bottom, she was rushed from her Malibu home to the hospital after an alleged overdose.
She built up her life after that, and though her head-shaving still remains etched in history, one cannot deny the hope and inspiration she gave millions as we see her rise: strong, healthy, happy and determined. Since then she's had three successful albums and multiple massive hits under her belt and a stable love life with model boyfriend Sam Asghari. For someone to claw back from hell and rise, especially in the public eye, is a miracle and Britney, right from the start, had always been one.