Britney Jean Spears (born December 2, 1981) is a Grammy Award-winning American pop singer, dancer, actress, author and songwriter. She is best known for her studio albums, music videos, and songs such as "...Baby One More Time", "Oops!...I Did It Again", "I'm a Slave 4 U", "Toxic" and "Everytime."
Spears has sold over seventy-six million records worldwide according to TIME magazine. Having sold over 31 million albums in the U.S., Spears ranks as the eighth best-selling female artist in American music history.
Spears first came to fame as a member of the Mickey Mouse Club in the early 1990s, after which she took a five-year break from entertainment. She subsequently emerged at the forefront of the pop music scene in late 1998, thanks to her debut album, ...Baby One More Time, which was crafted by Swedish producer-songwriter Max Martin. Her second album, Oops!...I Did It Again, was released the following year.
In the early 2000s, Spears' success as a singer led her way to high-profile advertising deals, most notably for Pepsi, as well as forays into other forms of media, including film and reality television. Her third and fourth albums were released during this era and included more artistic input from Spears.
In 2004, she married dancer and aspiring rap artist Kevin Federline and the following year she gave birth to their son, Sean Preston. Their second son, Jayden James, was born in 2006. Eight weeks after the birth of her second child, Spears filed for divorce from Federline, citing irreconcilable differences.
Childhood and discovery
Spears was born in McComb, Mississippi, and raised Southern Baptist in Kentwood, Louisiana. Her parents are James Parnell Spears, a building contractor, and Lynne Irene Bridges (born 1956), a former grade school teacher. Spears' brother, Bryan (born 1977), is one of her managers, and her sister, Jamie-Lynn (born 1991), is an actress and singer. Her maternal grandmother, Lillian Woolmoore (1924–1993), was an English war-bride, who met Spears's maternal grandfather, Barnett O'Field Bridges (1919–1978), in England during WWII, and subsequently moved with him to the US. Her paternal grandparents were June Austin Spears (born 1930) and Emma Jean Forbes (1934–1966).
Spears was an accomplished gymnast, attending gymnastics classes until age nine and competing in state-level competitions. She performed in local dance revues and her local Baptist church choirs, and was auditioning for the Disney Channel's The New Mickey Mouse Club by the time she was eight. Although she was considered too young to join the series at the time, a producer on the show introduced her to a New York agent. Spears subsequently spent three summers at NYC's Professional Performing Arts School and also appeared in a number of off-Broadway productions, including 1991's Ruthless!. In 1992, she landed a spot on Star Search, and though she won the first round, she lost in the second (her opponent would later appear on a 2001 episode of the game show I've Got a Secret with his "secret" being the win against Spears). Spears then returned to the Disney Channel for a spot on the New Mickey Mouse Club and was accepted. She was featured in the 1993–1994 seasons from the ages of 11–13. Other performers on the show included Justin Timberlake, future boyfriend of Spears, and Joshua Chasez (both of whom later became members of the pop group 'N Sync), Keri Russell (star of the TV show Felicity), fellow pop singer Christina Aguilera, and actor Ryan Gosling. After the show ended, Spears and her five friends Jenny Morris, Veronica Finn, Mandy Ashford, Danay Ferrer, and her Mouseketeer co-star Nikki DeLoach) co-formed American pop-dance group Innosense. Finally, once Spears was not part of the group, she could go as a solo artist in 1997. A few years later, Spears recorded a demo tape, which landed in the hands of Jive Records. She was signed to their label and began touring American venues for a series of concerts sponsored by American teen magazines, before joining *NSYNC and becoming their opening act.
1998–2000: Early commercial success
Towards the end of 1998, Spears' debut single "...Baby One More Time" began to appear on MTV. Led by a music video that featured the 1.63 m (5 ft 4 in) pop princess in a Roman Catholic Schoolgirl outfit, the song became an international success, earning platinum sales and going to number two in the UK, as well as going number one in a large number of countries throughout the world. Released in early 1999, her debut album ...Baby One More Time topped the charts in several countries, including USA (where it is certified 14x Platinum).
Spears was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in April 1999. The photo shoot triggered widespread speculation (denied by her representatives) that the still-seventeen-year-old had opted to have breast implants. That summer, she kicked off her first headlining tour, the ...Baby One More Time Tour. By late 1999, Spears had become one of the year's biggest stars. In December, she took home four Billboard Music Awards including one for Female Artist of the Year, and the next month won for Favorite Pop/Rock New Artist at the American Music Awards. At the Grammy Awards, held in February 2000, Spears received two nominations, including one for Best New Artist. The other was for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for ...Baby One More Time but she lost that to Sarah McLachlan.
Following the short-lived Crazy 2K Tour, the lead single from Spears' second album, "Oops!... I Did It Again", was released. The song broke a record for most radio station adds in a single day and quickly became a U.S. top ten hit and number one single in other countries. Released in May 2000, the album Oops!... I Did It Again debuted at number one in the U.S., where it sold over 1.3 million units during its first week (breaking the record for biggest first-week sales of an album by a female artist). Concerning both musical content and sales, the album was very similar to Spears' debut, although it fared better with critics. "Oops..." also had input from country queen Shania Twain, who penned the track Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know with husband Mutt Lange. Twain contributed her adult-40 brand of country-crossover infusion to the record. Spears kicked off her first world tour (titled the Oops!... I Did It Again World Tour) in the summer of 2000, and co-wrote the book Britney Spears' Heart-to-Heart with her mother, Lynne which was a bestseller. During a performance at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, she ripped off a black suit to reveal a provocative nude-colored and crystal-adorned outfit that generated controversy due to her young age. In late 2000, she won two Billboard Music Awards, and in early 2001, she was nominated for two American Music Awards. At the Grammys, her two nominations were for Oops!... I Did It Again in the categorys of Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance but again she did not win.
2001–2003: Career development
In early 2001, Spears struck a US$7–8 million promotional deal with the soft drink giant Pepsi. In September of the same year, she performed at the MTV Video Music Awards, and in addition to criticism for being scantily clad, she angered animal rights organization PETA for the use of animals, including an albino python, in her performance.
In November, she released her third album Britney. It debuted at number one on both the U.S. and Canadian charts, selling over 741,000 units during its first week in the U.S. The success of this album made Spears the only female artist in SoundScan history to have her first three albums debut at number one. Although four million copies of the record have been sold in the U.S., it was a decline from the sales of her first two albums, and the lead single "I'm a Slave 4 U" was the album's only hit in the U.S. Britney was the first album on which Spears assumed some creative control; she co-wrote five of the album's tracks. To help promote the album, Spears embarked on the Dream Within a Dream Tour during the same year. Spears was nominated for two Grammy Awards, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for Overprotected and Best Pop Vocal Album for Britney which she lost both to Norah Jones.
In February 2002, Spears had her first starring role in the film, Crossroads. The next month, Spears' four-year relationship with Justin Timberlake ended. The break-up was publicized, with rumors circulating that Spears had been unfaithful. Timberlake himself left the impression that she had cheated on him through his song "Cry Me a River", and its subsequent music video. In response to this, Spears later said, "I'm not technically saying he's wrong, but I'm not technically saying he's right, either." Afterward, despite Spears' claims that she had remained a virgin ― and wished to remain one until marriage ― Timberlake insisted they had sex during their relationship. Spears later acknowledged this to be true, saying, "It was two years into my relationship with Justin, and I thought he was the one. But I was wrong!"
In June 2002, Spears branched out as a restaurateur with the opening of a New York City eatery, NYLA, which was named for its mix of New York and Louisiana cuisine. It was not a success and closed the following year but Spears apparently had very little to do with management. In 2002 Spears received at least some good news when Forbes named her the most powerful celebrity in the world.
Spears returned to the spotlight in August 2003 when she performed at the MTV Video Music Awards with her idol Madonna, pop singer Christina Aguilera and rapper Missy Elliott. Spears and Aguilera performed Madonna's song "Like a Virgin", danced suggestively and each locked lips with Madonna. Spears' kiss with Madonna attracted publicity that lasted several months, while Aguilera's kiss with Madonna attracted less publicity.
November 2003 saw the release of Spears' fourth studio album, In the Zone. Jettisoning the Max Martin-produced synthpop of her earlier releases, the album took in lesser-known producers such as RedZone and big names including Moby and R. Kelly. Spears co-wrote nine of the album's thirteen songs and co-produced some of her material for the first time. In the Zone went to the top of the U.S. charts in its debut week, selling over 609,000 copies. This made Spears the only female in music history to have her first four albums debut at number one. The album spawned the international number one and U.S. number nine hit single, "Toxic", which won Spears her first Grammy in the category of Best Dance Recording.
2004–2006: Career hiatus, children and divorce
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. Spears wore jeans and a baseball cap and the bellhop walked her down the aisle. An annulment was promptly arranged (at the behest of manager Larry Rudolph and her family) and was granted on January 5, ending their fifty-five hour marriage. The annulment request stated that Spears "lacked understanding of her actions to the extent that she was incapable of agreeing to marriage because before entering into the marriage the Plaintiff and Defendant did not know each other's likes and dislikes, each others' desires to have or not have children, and each other's desires as to State of residency". Spears later said, "Honestly, I really wanted to see what it was like to be married".
In 2004, Spears embarked on her fourth world tour, The Onyx Hotel Tour. The tour grossed over US$38 million and was seen by over 650,000 fans in North America and Europe, but the remaining dates were cancelled in June, after Spears injured her knee during the filming of the video for the single "Outrageous". She was taken to an undisclosed hospital, where she received an MRI that showed floating cartilage in her knee. The following thirty-seven stops on the tour were canceled, costing Spears US$750,000 to US$1,000,000 a night in guaranteed fees from concert promoters.
In July 2004, Spears announced her engagement to dancer Kevin Federline, three months after they met at a club in Hollywood. Their whirlwind romance sparked criticism due to the fact that Federline had very recently been in a relationship with actress Shar Jackson, who was still pregnant with their second child. On the night of September 18, 2004, Spears married Federline before twenty-seven guests in a surprise, non-denominational ceremony at a residence in Studio City, California. The exact sequence of events surrounding the marriage took a further turn for the unusual when it was later revealed by the website The Smoking Gun that the wedding ceremony that occurred on September 18 was a "faux" ceremony, and that the real date of the start of their wedding was October 6, 2004.
During the later half of 2004, Spears announced she would be taking another career break in order to start a family. Immediately after her marriage to Federline, she had told People, "I want to be a young mom. Next year, at 23, I'm so there." Although she made few public appearances, the 'Britney Spears industry' continued to run itself.
Spears endorsed a fragrance, "Curious", for which she earned a reported US$12 million. After one year of sales, the product netted more than US$100 million. Curious was named the best selling perfume of 2004. Following the success of "Curious", Spears released her next Elizabeth Arden fragrance, "Fantasy", in September 2005 which was another big hit at department stores. In April 2006, Spears released a third fragrance Curious: In Control. The perfume was limited edition and has sold well since its release. Spears' first hits collection, Greatest Hits: My Prerogative, was released in late 2004. The album debuted at number four on the U.S. charts. In addition to her biggest hits, it featured three new songs, including "My Prerogative" and "Do Somethin'". During the spring of 2005, Spears' reality show with husband Kevin Federline, Britney and Kevin: Chaotic, premiered on MTV in the U.S. The five-episode series credited Spears and Federline as executive producers. Chaotic was panned by most critics and between 2-3 million people watched the shows 5 episodes. The series was later released on DVD in September 2005. The DVD included a bonus music disc which featured her newest song and music video at that point in her career, "Someday (I Will Understand)".
Spears announced her pregnancy via her official website in April 2005. That month she was rushed to a hospital in Destin, Florida, where she spent forty-eight hours under a doctor's surveillance. Spears later told People, "There was just a little bit of bleeding, but we went there, and everything was fine." Despite her eagerness to have a baby, she admitted to ELLE magazine that, "I have a feeling I'm going to have an operation. I don't know why. But I hope so. I don't want to go through the pain". On September 14, 2005, 6 lb. 11oz. baby boy Sean Preston Federline was born in the Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, California, by a scheduled caesarean section. Two days later, Spears and her son were released from the hospital and back at home in their 9,000-sq.-ft. Malibu, California mansion. The birth of Spears' son was the inspiration behind a statue by Daniel Edwards, Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston, which was unveiled in March 2006. The statue features an idealised Spears giving birth in a provocative pose while hunched on all fours and clutching a bearskin rug. Controversy was further stoked by it being partly supported by the Manhattan Right to Life Committee. The statue has in no way been recognized by Spears and is therefore unofficial. It has also sparked controversy as Spears gave birth by caesarean section, unlike the natural birth depicted in the statue.
Since the birth of her first child, Spears' career had remained relatively low-profile. In November 2005, Jive released a remix album entitled B in the Mix: The Remixes. It lacked promotion of any kind in the U.S. and debuted outside the top one hundred, with about 16,000 copies sold in its first week of release. The remix album spawned the international and U.S. Hot Dance Airplay hit single, "And Then We Kiss."
Spears made a guest appearance on Will & Grace in April 2006. In May 2006, she announced her second pregnancy with a surprise appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman.
Spears appeared on Dateline NBC in June 2006 to discuss tabloid rumors about an impending divorce from her husband, future career plans, her emotional state and motherhood. In response to the controversy over her driving with her infant son unrestrained in her lap, Spears told The Today Show's Matt Lauer that, "I did it with my dad. I'd sit on his lap and I drive. We're country." She also addressed the concerns over her parenting skills, saying, "I know I'm a good mom." It was confirmed in the interview that she will not release a studio album for at least another year, saying that she would like to wait until her children get older. She also confirmed a new baby clothes line, entitled "Baby's All Rock 'n' Roll".
Following Dateline NBC, Spears posed nude for the August 2006 cover of Harper's Bazaar. In the interview with the magazine, Spears stated that she is not ready to retire from performing, saying, "I can't wait to do that again." Spears also plans to get back in shape after the birth of her second child, saying, "After this baby, I'm going to get really intense with it." In the August 28, 2006 issue of People, Spears confirmed that her next studio album is due in 2007 and described it as "cooler than ever—fun, upbeat, and sexy." In the article Spears had also commented that her impending childbirth, a second scheduled caesarean section, "[would] be a piece of cake."
On August 20, 2006, Spears introduced her husband, Kevin Federline, at the Teen Choice Awards. This was her first appearance at an awards show in almost two years. Spears and Federline also appeared via satellite at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards to present the award for Best R&B Video. They performed a quick skit, though, in subsequent replays of the VMA's on MTV, the skit is completely edited out and goes right from Jack Black introducing Spears and Federline to them announcing the nominees.
On September 12, 2006, Spears gave birth to their second son, Jayden James Federline. He was born at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, again by a scheduled caesarean section.
Spears filed for divorce from her husband Kevin Federline in early November, citing irreconcilable differences and asking for both physical and legal custody of their two children, with visitation rights for Federline. The following day Federline filed a response to Spears' divorce petition, seeking both physical and legal custody of their two children. Laura Wasser has been hired to represent Spears in the case. According to a rep for Federline's lawyer, the divorce filing "caught Kevin totally by surprise."
In February 2002, Spears starred in a film, Crossroads, which reached number two on the box-office charts in its first weekend, but had a relatively short life in the coming weeks at movie theaters. The film ended up making a bit over $60 million worldwide more than four times its budget. Songs from the album Britney appeared in the film. The movie, along with Spears' performance in it, was poorly received by critics and she netted herself a Razzie Award for Worst Actress. The film won the Razzie for the Worst Original Song "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman".
Spears has made cameo appearances on the films Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) as herself, and Longshot (2000) as a Flight Attendant. She also appeared on a Documentary titled Guest List Only which focused on the Los Angeles Club Scene.
For the film Chicago, producer Harvey Weinstein wanted Spears for the role that eventually went to Lucy Liu. She was considered for the part of Allie Hamilton in The Notebook, but was beat out by Rachel McAdams. She auditioned for the role in I ♥ Huckabees that went to Naomi Watts. Spears initially expressed interest in the role of Daisy Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard but lost interest in playing the character following her marriage and plans for a family. The role went to fellow pop singer and reality television star Jessica Simpson.
As for theatre, in her youth Spears had a role in the off-Broadway play, Ruthless!, in which Natalie Portman was an understudy. In 2005 she was offered the title role in the Broadway musical Sweet Charity. Producers of the musical began eyeing Spears for the role of the unlucky-in-love dancer Charity after Christina Applegate announced she would no longer be returning as the character. Spears seriously considered taking that part, but decided that she did not want to move her family to New York City to appear in the musical.
She was asked to appear in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "I Was Made to Love You," but turned down the role due to scheduling conflicts. This is similar to what happened in her scheduled guesting for the show Dawson's Creek.
In March 30, 2006, Spears was a guest-star on an episode of NBC's television show Will & Grace titled "Buy, Buy Baby". Britney played "Amber-Louis", a closeted Democrat lesbian posing as a conservative Christian and right-wing Republican who is to cohost with Jack McFarland on his talk show "JackTalk" after a large corporation takes over "OutTv", the show's network. This marked her debut on a scripted primetime television show playing someone other than herself. NBC received criticism from conservative Christian groups for the episode.
In addition, she has appeared on Saturday Night Live twice as host and musical guest: once on May 13, 2000, then again on February 2, 2002. On October 18, 2003, she appeared as musical guest with Halle Berry as host. At 18, she was the youngest person in SNL History to host and be the musical guest at the same time. Spears is also the only female to host and perform in the same episode more than once. She was set to host a third time in December 18, 2004 but cancelled due to her knee injury.
Britney Spears' personal life has attracted considerable media attention. Some people believe that she has courted it by cultivating, in her early years at least, a chaste, God-fearing and "wholesome" image. This was 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 image and songs. Spears' kiss with Madonna at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards received much media attention, as have her marriages and romantic relationships.
It began in April 1999 when a then 17-year-old Spears was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in a sexually suggestive Lolita-themed photoshoot which triggered widespread speculation (denied by her representatives) that the singer had gotten breast implants.
In August 2003, Spears caused more controversy with a photoshoot by photographer Michael Thompson which appeared in W. The photos displayed Spears in a dominatrix-inspired shoot, complete with sexually suggestive poses. In the interview by Rob Haskell which accompanied the photos, Spears admitted to having lost her virginity to ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake two years into their relationship. She also revealed that she enjoys tobacco smoking, and that she kissed Colin Farrell but had no serious relationship with him.
The sexualized public image of Spears once again became a topic of debate as a result of her November 2003 semi-nude photospread for men's magazine Esquire. Prompted by this, Playboy reportedly offered the star over one million USD to pose nude for their magazine, but Spears publicly declined. In an interview with Diane Sawyer, she was asked if she had ever gone further than she wished she had with the sexualized photoshoots. Spears responded, "No, I don't think so, no." After the Esquire photos were held up in front of her, she said, "Okay. Now those are a little much. Yeah, those are a little much. That's one picture, I must say, that I felt kind of weird about, yeah."
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 performing routines simulating gay sex, orgies and masturbation. As there were underage fans in the audience, there was some outrage at the alleged lack of decency of the performances, as well as reports of adult chaperones angrily storming out with the children they brought to the concert. Spears responded to parents' concerns by stating she is "not their babysitter. It's the parents' responsibility. If you don't like it, then just change the channel. The only person I want to be a role model to is my sister, Jamie Lynn." (From ABC's Primetime interview with Diane Sawyer)
In December 2005, Spears sued US Weekly for a story the magazine published in the column "HOTstuff" of their October 2005 publication. The column, with the headline "Brit & Kev: Secret Sex Tape? New parents have a new worry: racy footage from 2004.", claimed that Spears and her husband had made a sex video and feared it would be distributed. Spears denies the existence of a sex tape, while the magazine states that they have a credible source, which they did not mention in the article. In November of 2006 it was reported that the case was dismissed.
On June 28, 2006, after her televised Dateline interview a pregnant Spears posed nude for the August 2006 cover of Harper's Bazaar, in a photo similar to Demi Moore's September 1991 cover of Vanity Fair. In one photo, Spears is shown wearing only a g-string and open fur coat, and in another she is completely nude with her hands covering her breasts. Her son, Sean, is also featured in the photospread.
In August 2006, a video of Spears began circulating the Internet. In the three-minute video, previously released as a bonus on the Britney and Kevin: Chaotic DVD, Spears seems very disoriented and confused and claims that she is "missing out on life" and that she is generally behind everyone else. Federline tells her it is because of all the partying, to which she strongly disagrees. Spears then begins to try and legitimately convince him that the concept of time travel as portrayed in the Back to the Future series is real.
In November, shortly after her breakup with Federline, Spears was seen on the dance-club circuit with Paris Hilton, and was photographed with no panties by several paparazzi. Divorce lawyer Dylan Mitchell said the appearances could hurt her child custody case if Federline chooses to argue that Spears is "never home and other people are parenting the children." Spears wrote on her official Web site in December that it had been "so long" since she last joined friends and went "out on the town", and admitted that she "probably" took her newfound freedom "a little too far. Anyway, thank God for Victoria's Secrets' [sic] new underwear line!"
In pop culture
Spears is one of the highest selling female artist of the 2000s, with 76 million albums sold worldwide. In 2002, she was ranked as the most powerful celebrity in the world by Forbes. Spears was ranked number 20 out of the 200 top pop culture icons of all time by VH1 and People. She topped FHM magazine's "100 Sexiest Women 2004" and "100 Sexiest Women in the World 2004" polls. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Spears was a notable trendsetter within the United States and the world, inspiring several fashion crazes and fads, such as the use of low-rise jeans lower back tattoos, navel piercings, and the whale tail among young women. She has also topped Yahoo!'s annual list of the most-searched names five times in the past six years. She's one of the few artists to have multiple diamond awards(meaning selling more than 10M copies in the US)
1. ...Baby One More Time (January 12, 1999)
2. Oops!... I Did It Again (May 16, 2000)
3. Britney (November 6, 2001)
4. In the Zone (November 18, 2003)
5. Greatest Hits: My Prerogative (November 9, 2004)
6. B in the Mix: The Remixes (November 22, 2005)