Britney Spears - Biography

Britney SpearsBritney Jean Spears (born December 2, 1981) is an American pop music singer. Her career encompasses chart-topping records, high-profile advertising and a foray into both acting and reality television. She is considered an American cultural icon recognized throughout the world, but has also been the subject of controversy surrounding the sexuality of her music and image.

Born to Lynne and Jamie Spears in McComb, Mississippi and raised in Kentwood, Louisiana, Spears first came to fame as a member of the Disney Channel's New Mickey Mouse Club in the 1993 and 1994 seasons.

Her castmates on the show included Justin Timberlake and Joshua Chasez (who later became members of the pop band *NSYNC), Keri Russell (star of the TV show Felicity), Christina Aguilera, also a pop singer, and actor Ryan Gosling. Spears dated Timberlake for about five years.

In 2004, Spears, 22, announced her engagement to dancer Kevin Federline, 26. Federline was formerly linked with actress Shar Jackson, with whom he has two children.

On the night of September 18, 2004, Spears married Federline before 20-30 guests in a private, non-denominational ceremony at a residence in Studio City, California. Spears wore an off-white dress and Federline wore an off-white tuxedo. The men and women attending the ceremony wore light blue and pink sweatsuits, respectively. The legitimacy of the marriage was initially questioned, but on November 18, 2004 a representative of the Los Angeles County registrar's office confirmed that Spears and Federline had successfully filed their marriage license with the county within ten days of their ceremony and were therefore legally married.

In April 2005, she announced through her website that she was pregnant with her first child, reportedly a girl, and is due sometime in Autumn.

...Baby One More Time

Her first album on Jive Records, ...Baby One More Time, debuted at #1 on the Canadian charts as well as the US Billboard 200 album chart on January 12, 1999, where it remained for six weeks. The single of the same name was also a #1 hit in many countries, including the US and UK, and was accompanied by a music video in which Spears wore a schoolgirl outfit and danced down a high school corridor. Follow-up singles included the top 30 "Sometimes", top 10 "(You Drive Me) Crazy" and the top 20 "From The Bottom Of My Broken Heart". Another single, "Born To Make You Happy", was released outside the US and went to #1 in the UK.

Spears broke the record for the youngest artist, at age 17, to have his or her first single reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart with "...Baby One More Time". Spears also broke the record for the youngest artist, at age 17, to have his or her first single and first album simultaneously reach #1 on the Billboard charts. Spears still holds this record. The album ...Baby One More Time is to date the best-selling by a teenager, with over 10.5 million copies sold in the US and over 22 million worldwide.

In 2000, Spears was nominated for two Grammy awards; Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for the single "...Baby One More Time", and Best New Artist. She did not receive either award.

Oops!... I Did It Again

Her follow-up album, Oops!... I Did It Again, released on May 16, 2000, also debuted at #1 in the US and Canada, and was a similarly huge hit. It sold over 1.3 million units its first week in the US, making it the fastest-selling album by a female artist. The album has sold over 9 million copies in the US alone and over 18 million worldwide. Singles off the album include the title track, which was a top 10 hit in the US and a #1 in several countries around the world, the top 30 "Lucky" and the top 20 "Stronger". Another single, "Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know" was also released, but failed to achieve much success.

Following the success of her first two albums, Spears' career skyrocketed, and a multimillion-dollar music, film, advertising, concert and TV-special "industry" sprang up around her. Her most popular ads were for Pepsi, for which she earned a reported $7-$8 million. In 2003, there was media speculation that the soft drink behemoth were planning to replace Spears with Destiny's Child frontwoman Beyoncé Knowles. This speculation turned out to be false, and Spears has since gone on to sponsor other Pepsi products. During this time, Spears also branched out as an author by co-writing a novel with her mother Lynne called Britney Spears' Heart to Heart.

In 2001, Spears was again nominated for two Grammy awards: Best Pop Vocal Album for Oops!... I Did It Again, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for the single of the same name. She did not receive either award.

Britney

Her next album, Britney, was released on November 6, 2001, and again debuted at #1 on both the US and Canadian charts, selling over 740,000 units its first week in the US. This made her the only female artist in SoundScan history to have her first three albums debut at #1. The first single, the top 30 hit "I'm A Slave 4 U", was produced by The Neptunes, and its R&B stylings heralded the starlet's attempt to grow with her audience, young and old. Other singles included "I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman", "Overprotected", "Boys", and "I Love Rock 'N Roll". Though these tracks did well internationally, they all failed to make much of a stir on US radio. Over 4.5 million copies of Britney have been sold in the US alone, and the album went on to sell over 11 million copies worldwide. While the album was very much a hit by anyone else's standards, these figures are low in comparison to the sales of her previous two albums.

In 2002, Spears starred in a movie, Crossroads, which reached #2 in the box office charts. 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. 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. In addition, she also released the follow-up novel to Britney Spears' Heart to Heart; this one was entitled A Mother's Gift.

In September 2002, she took a break from the spotlight, and in 2003 many music industry critics speculated that her career was in decline. Over the course of her first three albums, Spears had sold over 50 million copies worldwide.

In 2003, Spears was nominated for two Grammy awards yet again: Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Overprotected", and Best Pop Vocal Album for Britney. She did not receive either award.

In the Zone

Her fourth album, In the Zone, was released on November 18, 2003. 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. Zone rose straight to the top of the US album charts in its debut week, making Spears the only female in music history to have her first four albums debut at #1. After an opening performance in which she kissed Madonna at the August 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, the pop legend was also featured on the album's first single, "Me Against the Music". The single only went top 40 in the US, though it was a #1 hit in many other countries around the world. Zone, however, has sold over 3 million copies in the US and close to 8 million copies worldwide.

The day before the release of Zone, Spears received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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 couple promptly arranged for an annulment, which was granted on January 5, ending their 55-hour marriage. Following the wedding, Spears released the second single from Zone, "Toxic", which became a worldwide and #1 hit in over twenty different countries. The single also marked Spears' first top 10 hit on the Hot 100 since "Oops!".

In March, Spears embarked on her fourth world tour, "The Onyx Hotel Tour", which grossed over $34 million dollars and was seen by over 600,000 fans in North America and Europe. Meanwhile, the album's third single, "Everytime", was starting to receive radio play. While the song was only a top 20 hit in the US, it was a #1 hit overseas in such countries as the UK and Australia. In June, she cancelled the remaining dates of her tour after injuring her knee during the filming of a video for the fourth single from Zone, "Outrageous", which was released only in the US; however, it did not perform well on the charts (besides becoming a moderate dance hit), possibly due to the fact that the video was never released.

In September 2004, Forbes estimated Spears' net worth at $125 million USD.

In 2005, Spears received her first Grammy award for "Toxic" in the category of Best Dance Recording.

Post-Zone events

During the later half of 2004, Spears announced that 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, Spears released her first fragrance: "Curious". It is a floral scent with vanilla and musk. The fragrance had the biggest debut in sales in history from Elizabeth Arden. Spears is expected to earn a reported $12 million from the fragrance. In addition, the scent ended up as the #1 fragrance of 2004 in department stores, and in 2005, "Curious" was honored by the Fragrance Foundation, naming it Best Women's Fragrance.

On November 9, 2004, Spears released her first hits collection: Greatest Hits: My Prerogative. The album debuted at #4 on the US charts, selling over 255,000 copies in its first week of release. As of Spring 2005, the set has sold over 1 million copies in the US and over 5 million copies worldwide. Spears also notched up the biggest-selling first week for a greatest hits compilation by a female artist in UK chart history (115,341 copies), smashing the first-week sales of previous high-profile collections from Whitney Houston, Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Céline Dion, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson and Shania Twain.

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, one of the two new tracks entitled "Do Somethin'", was released in early 2005. Both singles did moderately well internationally, though they were poorly received in the US (possibly due to the fact that they were given little-to-no promotion).

Mona Lisa (working title-Original Doll)

On December 29, 2004, Spears did a live interview on the KISS FM radio station in the US, stating that her new album was already half done and that it would be named Original Doll, appropriately enough for her changing image. Additionally, after the interview, the first single from the new album, entitled "Mona Lisa", was played. She announced that the album would probably be out in the late Spring or early Summer of 2005. However, Jive Records later released a statement saying the album would not be released until at least next year (2006). Spears called into TRL US in early 2005 and mentioned that there would probably be no new album for this year, though she did say that she was working on a song for an upcoming show. Although reports claimed that the song was for a Madonna special for MTV, Madonna's representatives later dismissed these rumors.

In late March 2005, a rumor circulated that Jive had announced that a new album would be released on March 7, 2006 and would be titled Mona Lisa.

According to a "The Fabulous Life of..." VH1 special about Spears and husband Kevin Federline, she has renewed her contract with Jive, marking a three-album deal for a reported $10.5 million.

Controversy

Spears' success has rested on a mixed fanbase. Millions of girls became enthusiasts for her work, adopting her as an idol. Writers on popular music for the mainstream press, however, have generally been dismissive of Spears' music, considering it to be commercial and shallow.

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. Spears' popularity has certainly been a catalyst for exposing the complex feelings that come with sexual maturity. Some parents may worry that Britney Spears provides an unsuitable role model for their daughters' life and career plans.

In October 2003, Maryland First Lady Kendel Ehrlich, the wife of Governor Robert Ehrlich, was criticized for saying that 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 dollars to pose nude for their magazine. Spears has publicly declined the offer.

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 raunchiness of the performances, and there were reports of adult chaperones angrily storming out with children they brought to the concert. It has been said that the tickets should have originally come with a warning on them to caution parents.

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 that 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 seemingly down-to-earth personality have contributed greatly to her success.

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 that 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.

Trivia

  • Britney Spears' sister, Jamie Lynn, is currently starting a career as an entertainer in the Nickelodeon shows All That and Zoey 101; 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 brother, Bryan Spears, is one of her co-managers. Britney's parents, Lynne and Jamie, 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 Britney's closest friends is Felicia Culotta, her assistant.

  • 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." Ironically, in getting a tattoo, Spears has committed one of the worst Jewish taboos. 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 ) read "strange" rather than "mysterious".

  • Spears publicly declared that she was a virgin early in her career, 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".

  • Her favourite colours are baby blue and pink.

  • She has been photographed smoking cigarettes.

  • She spent her 21st birthday at a restaurant in Englewood, New Jersey with family and friends after her Giants Stadium Concert.

  • She auditioned for Huckabees, The Notebook and The Dukes of Hazzard.

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