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Britney Spears

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"Britney" redirects here. For the album, see Britney (album). For other uses, see Britney (disambiguation).
Britney Spears
Britney Spears 2013 (Straighten Crop).jpg
Spears at the 102.7 KIIS FM Wango Tango concert in Carson, California, May 2013
Born Britney Jean Spears
(1981-12-02) December 2, 1981 (age 34)
McComb, Mississippi, U.S.
Occupation
  • Singer
  • dancer
  • actress
Years active 1992–present
Agent Larry Rudolph
Home town Kentwood, Louisiana, U.S.
Spouse(s)
  • Jason Allen Alexander (m. 2004; annulled 2004)
  • Kevin Federline (m. 2004; div. 2007)
Children 2
Parent(s)
Relatives
Website britneyspears.com
britney.com
Musical career
Genres
Instruments Vocals
Labels
Associated acts Innosense
Signature
Britneyspearssignature.png

Britney Jean Spears (born December 2, 1981) is an American singer, dancer, and actress. Born in McComb, Mississippi, and raised in Kentwood, Louisiana, she performed acting roles in stage productions and television shows as a child before signing with Jive Records in 1997. She rose to stardom with the release of "...Baby One More Time" (1998) and her debut album of the same name. The record went on to sell over thirty million copies worldwide, making her a household name. Her second studio album, Oops!... I Did It Again (2000), achieved similar critical and commercial success to its predecessor. Spears began to adopt a more provocative image with the release of her eponymous third studio album, which saw a shift in musical direction from her previous work. This was further emphasized in her fourth studio album, In the Zone (2003), which became her fourth album to top the Billboard 200 chart in the United States. The album spawned the hit single "Toxic" (2004), which went on to become one of her signature songs.

Following the cancellation of her Onyx Hotel Tour (2004) due to a knee injury, Spears married dancer Kevin Federline and announced that she would be taking a break from her career to focus on starting a family. Spears became pregnant shortly afterwards, giving birth to her first child in September of 2005. During this time, she began to gain considerable media attention centering around her marriage and motherhood, and became a tabloid fixture. She gave birth to her second son in September of 2006, and later filed for divorce from Federline two months later. She worked on her fifth studio album in the midst of her highly publicized personal struggles, releasing Blackout (2007) that October. The album received a mixed reaction upon release, and became her first studio album not to top the Billboard 200 chart. Her sixth studio album, Circus (2008), was seen as Spears' comeback album. It was her fifth to top the Billboard 200, and was preceded by the release of "Womanizer" (2008), which became her second single to top the Billboard Hot 100.

Spears released her second greatest hits album, The Singles Collection (2009), on November 10. It spawned the hit single "3" (2009), which became her first to debut atop the Billboard Hot 100. She worked with producers such as Dr. Luke on material for her seventh studio album, Femme Fatale (2011). The project debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, her sixth album to do so. She embarked on her worldwide Femme Fatale Tour (2011) to promote the record. Spears was a judge on the second season of the reality singing competition The X Factor in 2012. She collaborated with will.i.am on his single "Scream & Shout" (2013), which went on to become a critical and commercial success. Spears' eighth studio album, Britney Jean (2013), was released to a mixed reaction. Spears began her residency show, titled Britney: Piece of Me (2013-17), shortly following the release of the album. The residency show has went on to become a commercial success. Her ninth studio album, Glory (2016), was released on August 26.

Spears is regarded as a pop icon and credited with influencing the revival of teen pop during the late 1990s. She became the "best-selling teenage artist of all time"[1] and garnered honorific titles including the "Princess of Pop".[2] Her work has earned her numerous awards and accolades, including a Grammy Award, six MTV Video Music Awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award, ten Billboard Music Awards including the Billboard Millennium Award[3] and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2009, Billboard ranked her as the 8th overall Artist of the Decade,[4] and also recognized her as the best-selling female artist of the 2000s, as well as the fifth overall.[5] The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) lists Spears as the eighth top-selling female artist in the United States, with thirty four million certified albums.[6] She has sold over 100 million albums and singles worldwide[7] making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

Life and career

1981-97: Childhood and career beginnings

Spears was born in McComb, Mississippi, the second child of Lynne Irene 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.[8][9][10] Her siblings are Bryan James and Jamie Lynn.[11] 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.[12][13][14] 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".[13] At age eight, Spears and her mother Lynne traveled to Atlanta, Georgia 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.[15][16] In December 1992, she was finally cast in The Mickey Mouse Club alongside Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling, and Keri Russell, but returned to Kentwood after the show was canceled in 1995. She enrolled at Parklane Academy in 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."[13][17] 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."[18]

1998-2000: Breakthrough with early musical releases

Two weeks after sending in an audition tape, executives from Jive Records returned calls to Rudolph.[18] 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."[13] She then sang Houston's "I Have Nothing" (1992) for the executives, and was signed to the label.[19] 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."[20] 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.[13]

Spears returned to the United States, embarking on a shopping mall promotional tour to promote her debut 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 NSYNC.[21] "...Baby One More Time" (1998) was released as Spears' debut single on October 23.[20] The single was an instant commercial success, and went on to top the Billboard Hot 100 for two consecutive weeks. The 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.[22] It would later become the twenty fifth most successful song of all time in British chart history.[23] The single has sold over ten million copies since its release, making it of the best-selling singles of all time.[24][25] Her debut studio album, ...Baby One More Time, was released on January 12, 1999.[26] 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. ...Baby One More Time sold over ten million copies within its first year of release,[27] and has sold over thirty million copies to date; this makes it the highest selling debut album of all time.[14] Spears embarked on her ...Baby One More Time Tour (1999) and (You Drive Me) Crazy Tour (2000) to promote the album.[28] Spears began working on her second studio album during this time, premiering songs from the album during the (You Drive Me) Crazy Tour.[17]

The April 1999 cover of Rolling Stone featured Spears lying on her bed, covered 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."[29] Spears released her highly anticipated second studio album, Oops!... I Did It Again (2000), on May 16. The album sold over 1.3 million copies in its first week of release in the United States alone, marking the highest first week sales for a solo artist at the time.[30] The project went on to sell over twenty five million copies worldwide.[31] The album was also a critical success, with Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone writing 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."[32] The album as well as the title track received Grammy nominations for Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, respectively.[33] Spears performed a cover of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (1965) and "Oops!... I Did It Again" (2000) at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, with critics citing it as the moment Spears began to transition into a more mature performer.[34] Amidst media speculation, Spears confirmed she was dating NSYNC member Justin Timberlake.[14] She also bought a home in Destin, Florida.[35] She also released a limited edition style of glasses titled Shades of Britney.[36]

2001-04: New image, film debut, and marriages

In 2001, Spears signed a deal with shoe company Skechers,[37] and a $7–8 million promotional deal with Pepsi, their biggest entertainment deal at the time.[38] She began working on her third studio album while on her Oops!... I Did It Again Tour (2000), and was inspired by artists such as The Neptunes to create a record with a more "funky" sound.[39] The lead single from the project, "I'm a Slave 4 U" (2001), portrayed Spears in a more provocative image than her prior releases. The single became a top ten hit worldwide, though only reached twenty seven on the Billboard Hot 100.[40] Her performance of the song at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards, which featured Spears singing the song with a caged tiger and a large albino python draped over her shoulders, has been ranked as one of Spears' best performances.[34] The performance 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.[34] Spears released her eponymous third studio album, Britney (2001), on November 5. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and reached top five positions in Australia, the United Kingdom and mainland Europe; it sold over twelve million copies worldwide.[41][42][43] 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."[44]

Spears developed a more provocative image with the release of Britney (2001) and In the Zone (2003).

Spears launched her Dream Within a Dream Tour (2001-02) on November 1.[45] The tour was positively received, most notably for the pièce de résistance being a water screen that pumped two tons of water into the stage.[46] The tour grossed over $43 million, becoming the second highest grossing tour of 2002.[47] Her career success was highlighted by Forbes in 2002, as Spears was ranked the world's most powerful celebrity.[48] She made her feature film debut in the coming of age film Crossroads (2002). The film was generally panned by critics, but was a commercial success.[49][50][51] The film featured songs from her third studio album, most notably "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman" (2002).[51] Spears opened her first restaurant, Nyla, in New York in June of 2002; she terminated her relationship that November, citing mismanagement.[52] On June 19, she released her first multi-platform video game, Britney's Dance Beat, which received positive reviews.[53] Spears ended her relationship with Justin Timberlake during this time. The music video for his single "Cry Me a River" (2002) gained considerable media attention due to implications that Spears cheated on Timberlake.[54][55] Spears announced that July that she would be taking a six month hiatus from her career; despite this, she began working on her fourth studio album that November.[56] Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst claimed to have a romantic relationship with Spears during this time, though Spears denied these claims.[57]

Spears opened the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards alongside Christina Aguilera, Madonna, and Missy Elliott; the foursome performed a medley of Madonna's hit "Like a Virgin" (1986) and "Hollywood" (2003) along with Elliott's "Work It" (2002).[51] Spears and Madonna kissed one another midway through the performance, garnering considerable media attention.[51] Spears released her fourth studio album, In the Zone (2003), on November 12. Spears assumed more creative control for the record, writing and co-producing several songs on the project.[14] The album sold 609,000 copies in its first week of release, making it her fourth album to debut atop the Billboard 200.[14] This made Spears the first female artist to have her first four records debut at number one on the chart.[14] The album was a critical success; Vibe called it "A supremely confident dance record that also illustrates Spears's development as a songwriter."[58] 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."[59] The album is often considered Spears' most sexual release to date, featuring songs about sex and masturbation. The album spawned the hit single "Toxic" (2003), which went on to become one of Spears' signature songs.[14]

Spears married childhood friend Jason Alexander in January of 2004 at The Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, Nevada. The marriage was annulled 55 hours later, following a petition to the court that stated that Spears "lacked understanding of her actions".[60] She embarked on her Onyx Hotel Tour (2004) in March, in support of her fourth studio album.[61] Spears collaborated with Beyoncé, Pink, and Enrique Iglesias on a commercial as part of her sponsorship with Pepsi; the group recorded a cover of "We Will Rock You" (1977).[62] While filming the music video for "Outrageous" (2004), Spears injured her knee during a fall and underwent arthroscopic surgery. She was forced to remain six weeks with a thigh brace, followed by eight to twelve weeks of rehabilitation, resulting in the cancellation of the Onyx Hotel Tour.[63] During this time, Spears became involved in the Kabbalah Centre through her friendship with Madonna.[64] Spears announced her engagement to dancer Kevin Federline that July; the relationship was highly scrutinized in the media.[14] The couple held a wedding ceremony on September 18, but were not legally married until three weeks later on October 6 due to a delay finalizing the couple's prenuptial agreement.[65] Shortly after, she released her first fragrance with Elizabeth Arden, Curious, which broke the company's first-week gross for a perfume.[14] In October 2004, Spears took a career break to start a family.[66] She released her first greatest hits album, Greatest Hits: My Prerogative (2004), that November.[67]

2005-08: Motherhood and career setbacks

Despite having previously announced a break from her career, Spears made a surprise appearance at the Los Angeles radio station KIIS-FM to premiere a demo of a new song titled "Mona Lisa" (2005). She told the station that the song would be the lead single from her fifth studio album, which she referred to as The Original Doll.[68] Despite this, her label confirmed that there were no plans to release new material from Spears in the near future.[69] Spears confirmed her pregnancy with her first child on April 12, 2004; the announcement followed months of media speculation.[70] The early stages of Spears' relationship with Federline were chronicled in the reality series Britney & Kevin: Chaotic (2005).[71] The series was universally panned by critics and viewers, and was deemed by some as career suicide on Spears' part.[72] Spears released a new single, "Someday (I Will Understand)" (2005), that August as a dedication to her then unborn child.[73] She gave birth to her first son, Sean Preston Federline, on September 14.[74] Spears released her first remix album, titled B in the Mix: The Remixes (2005), on November 22.[75] The project went on to sell over one million copies worldwide, making it one of the best selling remix albums of all time.[76] Spears became pregnant with her second child only months following the birth of Sean Preston.[77]

Spears came under fire when pictures surfaced online that showed Spears driving her vehicle with Sean in her lap; she apologized, and claimed that the incident occurred following a "frightening encounter with the paparazzi".[14] She was further criticized for almost dropping her child while holding a drink at the same time.[14] In March of 2006, Spears guest starred on an episode of Will & Grace as a closeted lesbian named Amber Louise.[78] She announced she no longer studied Kabbalah in June 2006, explaining, "my baby is my religion."[64] That July, a pregnant Spears posed nude on the cover of Harper's Bazaar; the picture was heavily compared to Demi Moore's August 1991 Vanity Fair cover.[14] While pregnant, Spears resumed working on her fifth studio album. Spears gave birth to her second son, Jayden James Federline, on September 12.[79] Spears was credited as the executive producer on Kevin Federline's debut studio album, Playing with Fire (2006), and provided vocals on "Crazy".[80] The album was a critical and commercial failure, selling just over 16,000 copies in the United States.[81] In November 2006, Spears filed for divorce from Federline, citing irreconcilable differences.[82] Their divorce was finalized in July 2007, when the couple reached a global settlement and agreed to share joint custody of their children.[83]

Spears continued to receive heavy media attention surrounding her behavior following the announcement of the couple's divorce. Spears' aunt, Saundra Bridges Covington, died of ovarian cancer in January of 2007.[84] Spears entered a drug rehabilitation facility the following month, though checked herself out less than twenty-four hours later. The next day, Spears infamously shaved her head with electric clippers at a salon in Tarzana, Los Angeles. She admitted herself to other treatment facilities during the following weeks.[85] Spears produced a series of promotional concerts at House of Blues venues, titled The M+M's Tour, that May.[86] The tour was met with a mixed reaction; she was criticized for chewing gum on stage during one show, though others felt she looked fit and healthy.[87][88] On September 9, Spears opened the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards with a performance of her new single "Gimme More". The performance was panned by critics and viewers, who noted Spears' lackluster dancing and her blatant lip-syncing.[89] In October, Spears lost physical custody of her children to Federline. The reasons of the court ruling were not revealed to the public.[90]

Spears released her fifth studio album, Blackout (2007), on October 25.[91] The album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart, becoming her first studio album not to reach number one.[92] Blackout featured prominent europop influences, and was praised by critics; it remains a fan favorite, and has been added to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's musical library and archive.[93] Due to Spears' personal struggles during the album's release, it received minimal promotion. Blackout has went on to sell over three million copies worldwide.[94][95] 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, and later, permanent[96] conservatorship of her father James Spears and attorney Andrew Wallet, giving them complete control of her assets.[14] She was released five days later.[97]

2008-12: Return to prominence

Following a successful recovery, Spears began working on material for her sixth studio album. Spears guest starred on an episode of How I Met Your Mother in March of 2008, bringing the show its highest ratings ever.[98][99] She regained some visitation rights of her children after coming to an agreement with Federline and his counsel in July.[100] Spears opened the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards with a pre-taped comedy sketch with Jonah Hill and an introduction speech. She won the awards for Best Female Video, Best Pop Video and Video of the Year for "Piece of Me" (2008).[101] Spears released her new single "Womanizer" (2008) on October 3.[102][103] The single was a commercial success, going on to become her second number one single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song remains her highest selling digital single in the United States,[104] and was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Dance Recording.[105] MTV aired the introspective documentary, Britney: For the Record (2008), chronicling Spears' return to the music industry following her personal struggles the prior years.[106] The documentary aired on MTV days prior to the release of her sixth studio album, and was watched by over five million viewers during its debut.[107] This gave the network their highest ratings for a Sunday night timeslot ever.[107]

Spears performing at The Circus Starring Britney Spears (2009).

Spears' sixth studio album, Circus (2008), was released on December 2; the release date coincided with her twenty-seventh birthday.[108][109] The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 505,000 copies in its first week of release.[110] The album was one of the fastest-selling albums of the year,[111] and has sold over four million copies worldwide.[112] In the United States, Spears became the youngest female artist to have five albums debut at number one, earning a place in Guinness World Records.[113] She also became the only act in the Soundscan era to have four albums debut with 500,000 or more copies sold.[110] The album was met with a positive critical reception, and was described as a "lighter" version of Blackout (2007).[114] Spears promoted the album through The Circus Starring Britney Spears (2009), her seventh concert tour. The tour was a commercial success, going on to gross over $131 million; it was the fifth highest grossing tour of the year.[115] The tour received a mixed reception from critics; while many praised the tour's production, Spears' lip-syncing was criticized.[116]

That same year, 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.[117] Spears released The Singles Collection (2009), her second greatest hits album, on November 10.[118] The Singles Collection was preceded by the release of "3" (2009), which went on to debut atop the Billboard Hot 100; this was her first song to debut at the top of the chart, and her third number one overall.[119] Spears' representatives confirmed in May of 2010 that she was dating her former agent Jason Trawick; the pair ended their professional relationship to focus on their romance.[120] Spears designed a limited edition clothing line for Candie's, which was released in stores in July 2010.[121] That September, Spears guest starred in an episode of Glee that served as a tribute to herself.[122][123]

Spears released her seventh studio album, Femme Fatale (2011), on March 25.[124] The project was preceded by the release of the number one single "Hold It Against Me" (2011) and its follow-up "Till the World Ends" (2011).[125][126] Femme Fatale debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, her sixth album to reach the peak of the chart.[127] The album featured production from Dr. Luke and will.i.am, and incorporated elements of dubstep music.[128] Spears collaborated with Rihanna on a remix of her single "S&M" (2011), which went on to top the Billboard Hot 100.[129] She set out on her Femme Fatale Tour (2011) in June, going on to gross over $68 million by the end of its run.[130] She released her second remix album, B in the Mix: The Remixes Vol. 2 (2011), on October 11.[131] Spears and Trawick announced their engagement that December; [132] Trawick became a co-conservator of Spears, alongside her father, in April 2012.[133] That May, Spears was hired to be a judge on the second season of The X Factor.With a reported salary of $15 million, she became the highest-paid judge on a singing competition series in television history.[134] Spears was the mentor of the teenage contestants.[135] Spears did not return for the show's third season, and was replaced by Kelly Rowland. Spears cited work on her eight studio album as the reason for her departure.[136]

2013-16: Vegas residency and continued music

In January of 2013, it was confirmed that Spears had ended her engagement to Trawick; he was also removed as Spears's co-conservator, restoring her father as the sole conservator.[137][138] She collaborated with will.i.am on his single "Scream & Shout" (2013). The single was a critical and commercial success, going on to sell over three million copies in the United States.[139] She released a new single, "Ooh La La" (2013), taken from the soundtrack of The Smurfs 2 (2013).[140] She recorded the song "SMS (Bangerz)" with Miley Cyrus for inclusion on her fourth studio album, Bangerz (2013).[141] Spears had begun working on her eighth studio album in December 2012,[142] and enlisted will.i.am as its executive producer in May 2013.[143] Spears released "Work Bitch" (2013) as the lead single from the project.[144] The day after the song was released, Spears appeared on Good Morning America to announce her two-year residency show at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.[145][146] Spears' eponymous eight studio album, Britney Jean (2013), was released on December 3.[147][148] The project was her first to be released through RCA Records due to the disbandment of Jive Records in 2011.[149] Britney Jean became Spears's final project under her original recording contract with RCA, which had guaranteed the release of eight studio albums.[150] The album received little promotion, and debuted at number four on the Billboard 200.[151] The project received a generally mixed reaction from fans and critics, and remains her lowest selling studio album to date.[152]

Spears performing during her Las Vegas residency show, Britney: Piece of Me.

Spears' residency show, Britney: Piece of Me (2013-17), began on December 27.[153] The residency proved to be a critical and commercial success. Rachel Maresca of New York Daily News noted that Spears "wowed the crowd" on the opening night, and added that the singer "pulled out all the stops to entertain her fans with plenty of theatrics on stage. She even gave the audience a taste of nostalgia by donning some her famous outfits from her most memorable past performances."[154] In August of 2014, Spears confirmed that she had renewed her recording contract with RCA Records; she also stated that she was working on new material for her ninth studio album.[155] That same month, it was confirmed that that she would be releasing an intimate apparel titled The Intimate Britney Spears. The line became available online September 9 for North America and September 25 for Europe.[156] On September 25, Spears confirmed on Good Morning Britain that she had extended her contract with The AXIS and Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, to continue Britney: Piece Of Me for two additional years.[157]

In March of 2015, Spears regained sole custody of both Sean and Jayden Federline.[158] It was also confirmed that Spears had begun dating Charlie Ebersol, the son of Dick Ebersol.[158] The couple split after a few months of dating.[158] That same month, it was confirmed that Spears rapper Iggy Azalea had collaborated on a song titled "Pretty Girls" (2015), slated to be released as the lead single from Spears' ninth studio album.[159] The song received a generally positive reception from critics, though failed to achieve much success commercially.[160] Spears and Azalea performed the song together at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards to a positive reception.[161] Due to the commercial failure of the song, it was scrapped from Spears' ninth studio album. Spears collaborated with Giorgio Moroder on the song "Tom's Diner" (2015), taken from his fifteenth studio album, Deja Vu (2015).[162] In an interview, Moroder praised Spears's vocals and said that she did a "good job" with the song.[163] The song would go on to be released as the fourth single from the album. That November, Spears guest starred as a fictionalized version of herself on The CW series, Jane the Virgin.[164] On the show, she danced to "Toxic" (2003) with Gina Rodriguez's character.[165]

On March 1, 2016, V magazine announced that Spears would appear on the cover of its 100th issue, dated March 8, 2016, in addition to revealing three different covers shot by photographer Mario Testino for the milestone publication.[166] Editor-in-chief of the magazine, Stephen Gan, revealed that Spears was selected for the "V100" issue because of her status as an icon in the industry. On the decision, Gan stated, “who in our world did not grow up listening to her music?"[167] In May 2016, Spears launched a casual role-play gaming application titled Britney Spears: American Dream. The app, created by Glu Mobile, was made available through both iOS and Google Play.[168] Spears performed a medley of her past songs at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards.[169][170] In addition to opening the show, Spears was honored with the Billboard Millennium Award.[171] On July 14, Spears released "Make Me..." (2016), the lead single from her ninth studio album. The song features a guest rap from G-Eazy.[172] She released her ninth studio album, Glory (2016), on August 26 to a positive reception.[173] Spears is slated to perform at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, marking her first performance at the ceremony since she performed "Gimme More" nine years prior.[174][175]

Artistry

Musical style

Following her debut, Spears was credited with leading the revival of teen pop in the late 1990s. The Daily Yomiuri reported that "[m]usic critics have hailed her as the most gifted teenage pop idol for many years, but Spears has set her sights a little higher-she is aiming for the level of superstardom that has been achieved by Madonna and Janet Jackson."[176] Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone wrote: "Britney Spears carries on the classic archetype of the rock & roll teen queen, the dungaree doll, the angel baby who just has to make a scene."[177] Following the release of her debut album, Chuck Taylor of Billboard observed, "Spears has become a consummate performer, with snappy dance moves, a clearly real-albeit young-and funkdified voice ... "(You Drive Me) Crazy", her third single ... demonstrates Spears's own development, proving that the 17-year-old is finding her own vocal personality after so many months of steadfast practice."[178] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic referred to her music as a "blend of infectious, rap-inflected dance-pop and smooth balladry."[179]

Oops!...I Did It Again and subsequent albums saw Spears working with several contemporary R&B producers, leading to "a combination of bubblegum, urban soul, and raga."[180] Her third studio album, Britney derived from the teen pop niche, "[r]hythmically and melodically ... sharper, tougher than what came before. What used to be unabashedly frothy has some disco grit, underpinned by Spears' spunky self-determination that helps sell hooks that are already catchier, by and large, than those that populated her previous two albums."[181] Since In the Zone, Spears has explored and heavily incorporated the genres of electropop and dance music in her albums, as well as influences of urban and hip hop music which are most present in In the Zone and Blackout. She has also experimented with genres such as dubstep, first on Blackout's "Freakshow" and again on "Hold It Against Me" from Femme Fatale.[182][183][184][185][186][187]

Voice

The cover of The Jets' song was the first song recorded by Spears for her then-label Jive in 1997.[188] The prominent use of melisma and vibratos as she continuously raises key into a high range was viewed as a Mariah Carey influence.[189]

The track is built around the 'wobbler' effect of dubstep, and her vocals are pitched down low, making her sound masculine.[190][191] She was credited as one of the artists who prompted the genre within a pop mainstream audience.[192]

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Spears possesses a soprano vocal range of three octaves and two notes.[193][self-published source] Prior to her breakthrough success, she is described as having sung "much deeper than her highly recognizable trademark voice of today", with Eric Foster White, who worked with Spears for her debut album ...Baby One More Time, being cited as "[shaping] her voice over the course of a month" upon being signed to Jive Records "to where it is today—distinctively, unmistakably Britney".[18] Rami Yacoub who co-produced Spears's debut album with lyricist Max Martin, commented, "I know from Denniz Pop and Max's previous productions, when we do songs, there's kind of a nasal thing. With N' Sync and the Backstreet Boys, we had to push for that mid-nasal voice. When Britney did that, she got this kind of raspy, sexy voice."[194]

Guy Blackman of The Age wrote that "[t]he thing about Spears, though, is that her biggest songs, no matter how committee-created or impossibly polished, have always been convincing because of her delivery, her commitment and her presence. [...] Spears expresses perfectly the conflicting urges of adolescence, the tension between chastity and sexual experience, between hedonism and responsibility, between confidence and vulnerability."[195] Producer William Orbit, who collaborated with Spears on her album Britney Jean, stated regarding her vocals: "[Britney] didn't get so big just because [she] put on great shows; [she] got to be that way because [her voice is] unique: you hear two words and you know who is singing".[196] On the other hand, she has been highly criticized by some for her vocal ability as well as her use of Auto-Tune throughout her career.[197][198][199]

Influences

Spears has cited her major influences in her career as being Madonna, Janet Jackson, and Whitney Houston, her "three favorite artists" as a child whom she would "sing along to [...] day and night in [her] living room"; Houston's "I Have Nothing" was the song she auditioned to that landed her record deal with Jive Records.[200] Throughout her career, Spears has drawn frequent comparisons to Madonna and Jackson in particular, in terms of vocals, choreography and stage presence. According to Spears: "I know when I was younger, I looked up to people... like, you know, Janet Jackson and Madonna. And they were major inspirations for me. But I also had my own identity and I knew who I was."[201] In the 2002 book Madonnastyle by Carol Clerk, she is quoted saying: "I have been a huge fan of Madonna since I was a little girl. She's the person that I've really looked up to. I would really, really like to be a legend like Madonna."[202]

After meeting Spears face to face, Janet Jackson stated: "she said to me, 'I'm such a big fan; I really admire you.' That's so flattering. Everyone gets inspiration from some place. And it's awesome to see someone else coming up who's dancing and singing, and seeing how all these kids relate to her. A lot of people put it down, but what she does is a positive thing."[203] Madonna said of Spears in the documentary Britney: For the Record: "I admire her talent as an artist [...] There are aspects about her that I recognize in myself when I first started out in my career".[204] She has also named Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Sheryl Crow, Otis Redding, Shania Twain, Brandy, Natalie Imbruglia, Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, Beyoncé, Prince, and Lorde as sources of inspiration.[205][206][207][208][209]

Philanthropy

The singer founded The Britney Spears Foundation, a charitable entity set up to help children in need. The philosophy behind the Foundation was that music and entertainment has a healing quality that can benefit children.[210] The Foundation also supported the annual Britney Spears Camp for the Performing Arts, where campers had the opportunity to explore and develop their talents.[211] In April 2002, through the efforts of Spears and The Britney Spears Foundation, a grant of $1 million was made to the Twin Towers Fund to support the children of uniformed service heroes affected by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, including New York City Fire Department and its Emergency Medical Services Command, the New York City Police Department, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the New York State Office of court Administration and other government offices.[212] However, it was reported in 2008 that the Foundation had a deficit of $200,000.[213] After the singer went through conservatorship, her father and lawyer Andrew Wallet zeroed out the effort, leading to its closure in 2011.[214]

On October 30, 2001, Spears, alongside Bono and other popular recording artists under the name "Artists Against AIDS Worldwide", released a single titled "What's Going On", with the intention to benefit AIDS programs in Africa and other impoverished regions.[215] In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2006, Spears donated $350,000 to Music Rising.[216] Later in 2011, the singer raised $200,000 during An Evening of Southern Style at a private residence in Beverly Hills to benefit the St. Bernard Project, with the help of several celebrities, including Hilary Duff, Selena Gomez, Kelly Osbourne, Kellan Lutz and Kim Kardashian.[217] Spears has also helped several charities during her career, including Madonna's Kabbalah-based Spirituality for Kids,[218] cancer charity Gilda's Club Worldwide,[219] Promises Foundation, and United Way, with the latter two focused on giving families from various disadvantaged situations new hope and stable foundations for the future.[216]

On October 24, 2015, Spears donated $120,000 to the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation.[220] In addition, $1 of each ticket sale for her Las Vegas residency show, "Britney: Piece of Me", was donated to the nonprofit organization.[221] Spears also fundraised for the charity through social media, in addition to selling limited edition merchandise, with all proceeds going to the NCCF.[222]

Legacy

Spears's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Spears became an international pop culture icon immediately after launching her recording career. Rolling Stone magazine wrote: "One of the most controversial and successful female vocalists of the 21st century," she "spearheaded the rise of post-millennial teen pop ... Spears early on cultivated a mixture of innocence and experience that broke the bank".[223] She is listed by the Guinness World Records as having the "Best-selling album by a teenage solo artist" for her debut album ...Baby One More Time which sold over thirteen million copies in the United States.[224] Melissa Ruggieri of the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported: "She's also marked for being the best-selling teenage artist. Before she turned 20 in 2001, Spears sold more than 37 million albums worldwide".[225] As of 2011, she has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time based on album sales alone.[226] She was also ranked as the fourth VH1's "50 Greatest Women of the Video Era" show list, ahead of most of her contemporaries and only behind veterans Madonna, Janet Jackson, and Whitney Houston.[227] Spears is also recognized as the best-selling female artist of the first decade of the 21st century, as well as the fifth overall.[5] In December 2009, Billboard magazine ranked Spears the 8th Artist of the 2000s decade in the United States.[4]

Spears is known for her iconic performances and music videos.[228] The music video for her debut single, "...Baby One More Time", was ranked number one on TRL's Final Countdown of the most iconic music videos.[229] At the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, before performing "Oops!... I Did It Again", the singer appeared behind a backlit screen, and descended a spiral staircase and started performing "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", while wearing a tuxedo.[230] After performing a shortened version of the track, she tore the tuxedo off, revealing a skin-tight flesh-coloured outfit.[231] The following year, Spears performed her single "I'm a Slave 4 U". Jocelyn Vena of MTV summarized the performance, saying, "draping herself in a white python and slithering around a steamy garden setting – surrounded by dancers in zebra and tiger outfits – Spears created one of the most striking visuals in the 27-year history of the show."[232] She also duetted "The Way You Make Me Feel" with pop singer Michael Jackson at his 30th anniversary concert a few days earlier.[233] During the opening of the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards on August 28, 2003, Spears joined Madonna, Christina Aguilera, and Missy Elliott.[234] Halfway through the performance, Madonna kissed Spears and Aguilera on the lips.[235] The kiss between Spears and Madonna generated strong reaction from the media.[236] This performance was listed by Blender magazine as one of the twenty-five sexiest music moments on television history.[237] MTV listed the performance as the number-one opening moments in the history of MTV Video Music Awards.[238]

In 2011, Adam Markovitz of Entertainment Weekly commented on the cultural significance of Spears's voice and music: "We don't ask a whole lot from Britney Spears as an entertainer...we'll still send her straight up the charts simply because she's Britney. She's an American institution, as deeply sacred and messed up as pro wrestling or the filibuster. Musically, though, Spears will always have to measure up to her own gold standards of pop euphony: the operatic slither of 2004's 'Toxic' and the candied funk of 2000's 'Oops!...I Did It Again.' Spears is no technical singer, that's for sure. But backed by Martin and Dr. Luke's wall of pound, her vocals melt into a mix of babytalk coo and coital panting that is, in its own overprocessed way, just as iconic and propulsive as Michael Jackson's yips or Eminem's snarls."[239] 'Britney Spears' was Yahoo!'s most popular search term between 2005 and 2008, and has been in a total of seven different years.[240] Spears was named as Most Searched Person in the Guinness World Records book edition 2007 and 2009.[241] She was later named as the most searched person of the decade 2000 – 2009.[242]

Spears has been cited as a musical inspiration by contemporary artists.[243][244][245][246] Miley Cyrus credits Spears as her biggest inspiration, and has referenced the singer in her hit song "Party in the U.S.A." (2009).[247][248] Spears has also become a major influence on many other contemporary artists, including Meghan Trainor,[249] Demi Lovato,[250] Katy Perry,[250] Kelly Key,[251] Kristinia DeBarge,[252] Little Boots,[253] Charli XCX,[254] Marina and the Diamonds,[255] Tegan and Sara,[256] Pixie Lott,[257] Girls' Generation, Selena Gomez,[258] Tinashe, Victoria Justice,[259] and The Saturdays.[260] Simon Cowell explained that he is "fascinated by [Britney]. The fact that she's one of the most talked about – not just pop stars – but people in the world today, means that you've got this star power. [...] She's still hot, she's still having hit records and she's still controversial, there's a reason for that."[261] People magazine and MTV reported that October 1, 2008, the Bronx's John Philip Sousa Middle School, named their music studio in honor of Britney Spears.[262] Spears herself was present during the ceremony and donated $10,000 to the school's music program.[263]

Discography

Filmography

Tours and concerts

Tours
Residency concerts

See also

References

Footnotes

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External links