Britney Spears Biography
Britney Jean Spears (born December 2, 1981) is an American pop singer. Her career encompasses chart-topping records, high-profile advertising and a foray into acting. She is now 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.
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.
...Baby One More Time
Her first album on Jive Records, ...Baby One More Time, debuted in the number one spot on the U.S. Billboard Charts in early 1999, and also topped the charts in the UK. The single of the same name was also a number one hit in many countries, and was accompanied by a music video in which Spears wore a schoolgirl outfit and danced down a high-school corridor.
Spears broke the record for the youngest artist, at age 17, to have his or her first single debut at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Spears also broke the record for the youngest artist, at age 17, to have his or her first single and first album debut simultaneously at #1 on the Billboard charts. Spears still holds this record. The album ...Baby One More Time is to date the best-selling album by a teenager, with 14 million in the United States and over 25 million worldwide, plus 3 million with the five released singles.
Spears took home several awards for her work on ...Baby One More Time throughout 1999, including Choice Single ('...Baby One More Time') at that Summer's Teen Choice Awards, as well as four MTV Europe Music Awards, including Best Song ('...Baby One More Time'), Best Pop Act, Best Female Act and Breakthrough Act. In addition, she also won four Billboard Music Awards including Female Artist of the Year, New Female Artist of the Year, Hot 100 Female Artist of the Year and Album Artist of the Year (...Baby One More Time).
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 followup album, Oops!... I Did It Again, released on May 16, 2000, also debuted at number one, and was a similarly huge hit. It sold over 1.3 million units its first week in the U.S., making it the fastest-selling album by a female artist. The album sold 10 million units in the U.S. and 20 million worldwide.
Following the success of her first two albums, Spears' career skyrocketed, and a multimillion-dollar music, film, advertisement, 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 gone on to sponsor other Pepsi products since.
During 2000, Spears extended her wins at awards shows beginning with an American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock New Artist and the Favorite Female Singer prize at that Spring's Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards. Throughout the year, she won for Choice Female Artist and Choice Hottie Female at the Teen Choice Awards, Best-Selling Album (...Baby One More Time) at the Juno Awards and Best-Selling Female Pop Artist at the World Music Awards. At the end of the year, Spears took home two Billboard Music Awards for Album Artist of the Year (Oops!... I Did It Again) and a special award for Highest One-Week Female Artist Album Sales in History (Oops!... I Did It Again).
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.
Her next album, Britney, was released on November 6, 2001, and debuted at number one in the charts, selling over 740,000 units its first week. This made her the only female artist in SoundScan history to have her first three albums debut at #1. The first single 'I'm A Slave 4 U' was produced by The Neptunes, and its R'n'B stylings heralded the starlet's attempt to grow with her audience, young and old. Over 4 million copies of Britney were sold in the United States alone, and the album went on to sell over 12 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 other albums.
Throughout 2001 and 2002, Spears took home such awards as Best-Selling Female Pop Artist and Best-Selling Female Dance Artist at the World Music Awards, Favorite Female Singer at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, Choice Female Artist (in both 2001 and 2002), as well as Choice Hottie Female at the Teen Choice Awards and Best Female Artist at the MTV Asia Awards.
In 2002, Spears starred in a movie, Crossroads, which reached number two 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 performance of 2002. 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 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, Britney Spears had sold approximately 57 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 win 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. In the Zone rose straight to the top of the album charts in its debut week. Spears is the only female in music history to have her first four albums debut at No. 1. After an opening performance in which she kissed Madonna at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards in August, Madonna was also featured on the album's first single, 'Me Against the Music'. The single only reached No. 35 on the Hot 100, but was a No. 1 hit in other countries. In the Zone, however, has sold close to 3 million copies in the United States alone and over 9 million copies worldwide, totalling over 10.4 million with singles.
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 In the Zone, 'Toxic', which became a worldwide hit and a No. 1 hit in over twenty different countries. The single occupied the No. 1 slot in the US for four consecutive weeks, though it only peaked at number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart.
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 only reached No. 15 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, it was a No. 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 her fourth single, 'Outrageous'. Shortly after returning from hospital, Spears, 22, announced her engagement to dancer Kevin Federline, 26. Federline was formerly linked with actress Shar Jackson, with whom he has two children.
In September 2004, Forbes estimated Spears' net worth at $123 million.
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.
During 2004, Spears won for Choice Single ('Toxic') at the Teen Choice Awards, Best Female Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards and received the award for Hot Dance Sales Single of the Year ('Me Against the Music' featuring Madonna) at the Billboard Music Awards; Spears' public appearance at the ceremony on December 8, 2004 was her first since marriage to Federline.
Curious Fragrance Line
Spears released her first fragrance, 'Curious', in September 2004. It is a floral scent with vanilla and musk. 'Curious' is currently ranked the #1 fragrance in department stores. The fragrance had the biggest debut in sales in history from Elizabeth Arden. Spears is expected to earn anywhere from $10 million to $28 million from the fragrance. The fragrance ended up the #1 fragrance of 2004 in department stores.
Greatest Hits: My Prerogative
Spears released her first greatest hits collection, Greatest Hits: My Prerogative, on November 9, 2004. The album debuted at #4 in the US charts, selling 255,000 copies in its first week. 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, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson and Shania Twain. The collection includes '...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'. As of January 2005, the set has sold over 4.5 million copies worldwide.
On December 29, 2004, Spears did a live interview on KIIS FM in America and stated 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, called 'Mona Lisa', was played. She announced that the album would probably be out in the late spring or early summer. However, Jive Records later released a statement saying the album would not be released until at least next year (2006). Spears also called into TRL U.S. 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 of some sort.
Spears' success has rested on a mixed fanbase. Millions of girls became enthusiasts for her work, adopting her as an idol. It also appears that many young adult males are also fans. Spears also has a significant gay male fanbase. 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.
Some parents take the view that their daughters deserve a chance to participate fully and happily in the pleasures of childhood before being led into an early emotional adolescence. There is also an open question as to whether young children are ready for the often complicated feelings that come with sexual maturity. Some parents may worry that Britney Spears provides an unrealistic 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 forced to apologize.
The sexual iconography 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. 1 (http://extratv.warnerbros.com/dailynews/extra/0404/04_19e.html)
The 2004 'Onyx Hotel' tour brought new criticism. Spears and her on-stage dancers while nearly nude performed routines explicitly depicting homosexuality, group sex, and masturbation. Given that many 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.
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 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.
This biography is published under the GNU Licence
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