Britney's Top Matches
About Britney Jean Spears
More than any other single artist, Britney Spears was the driving force behind the return of teen pop in the late '90s. Not only did she sell millions of records, she was a media fixture regardless of what she was (or wasn't) doing; among female singers of the era (many of whom followed in her footsteps), her celebrity star power was rivaled only by Jennifer Lopez.
She was born Britney Jean Spears on December 2, 1981, the second child of Lynne Irene (née Bridges) and James Parnell Spears. She is of English heritage through her maternal grandmother, who was born in London, and of distant Maltese descent. Her siblings are Bryan James and Jamie Lynn.
The middle of the three children, Spears developed an interest in performing at a young age. "Ever since I was 7 or 8 years old, my mom would have company over, and I was always performing for everybody in front of the TV. . .Even when I went to school, I was always the weird child; I would go outside and instead of playing, I wanted to have 'Star Search' competitions," Spears told Hollywood Reporter.
When she was eight, she auditioned for a spot on the Disney Channel's The New Mickey Mouse Club. Spears did not get the part, but she did eventually achieve one childhood dream: showcasing her vocal talents on the popular entertainment competition Star Search in 1992.
Spears tried again for The New Mickey Mouse Club when she was 11. This time, she was picked for the cast, which also featured other up-and-coming talents such as Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, and actress Keri Russell. Spears appeared on the children's variety show for two seasons. "We had an amazing amazing time; we got to sing and dance and do everything," she later explained to Hollywood Reporter.
After its cancellation, Spears focused on developing her musical career. She eventually landed a contract with Jive Records. In December 1998, Spears released her first single, "...Baby One More Time." The catchy pop tune reached the top of the pop charts at the end of January 1999, propelled in part by its music video. In the video, the teenaged Spears wore a skimpier version of the traditional Catholic schoolgirl uniform, drawing sharp criticism from the parents of her young fans. Despite her racy outfit, Spears claimed to be a sweet, innocent Southern girl at heart.
The entire . . . Baby One More Time album hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 charts that same year, and went on to sell more than 22 million copies worldwide. At the 1999 Billboard Music Awards, Spears picked up three awards Female Album Artist of the Year, Female Artist of the Year, and Best New Artist of the Year. She was part of a teenage pop music wave, which included fellow Mickey Mouse Club alumni Christina Aguilera and Jessica Simpson.
Building upon her meteoric rise, Spears released Oops! I Did It Again in 2000. The recording was an instant No. 1 hit on the album charts, selling more than 1 million copies in the first week. Her personal life was also receiving more media attention, as rumors circulated that she was dating Justin Timberlake, then part of the hit pop group 'N Sync.
With 2001's Britney, Spears made the first move toward shedding her virginal image, while also taking her sound in a different direction. The track, "I'm a Slave 4 U," sounded more like Prince than her bubble-gum pop of the past. "I'd get bored singing the same type of songs all the time. I still love my old stuff, but you have to extend yourself and grow," she explained to Entertainment Weekly. Performing "I'm a Slave 4 U" at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards, Spears made heads turn by dancing with a seven-foot albino python around her neck and wearing a barely-there costume.
Around this same time, Spears took a leading role in the feature film Crossroads. The coming-of-age drama received a drubbing from critics after its February 2002 release, but it ended up netting more than $37 million at the box office. Later that spring, Spears experienced another disappointment. She and Timberlake announced that they had broken up.
The following year, Spears created some headlines for her actions at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. She and fellow former Mouseketeer Christina Aguilera shared a kiss with pop superstar Madonna, during Madonna's performance. Some saw this dramatic stage moment as another way for Spears to present the latest version of her more sexualized public persona. Spears acknowledged around this time that Madonna was an important influence on her. "I remember being in my living room and watching her on TV. I'd dance around in my short tops and sing and dream about being her," Spears told Newsweek.
Spears' next album, In the Zone, hit stores that November, which included an appearance by Madonna on the "Me Against the Music" track. The recording's top single, "Toxic," earned Spears her first Grammy Award win for Best Dance Recording.
By January 2004, Spears appeared to be rebelling again—this time, against her intense work schedule. She married her childhood friend Jason Alexander in Las Vegas, but the union was annulled two days later. She then got involved with backup dancer Kevin Federline. At the time, Federline's girlfriend Shar Jackson was pregnant with their second child. Spears' relationship with Federline only intensified with the media's scrutiny of her private life.
Spears experienced some troubles in her professional life around this time. She had to undergo surgery to correct a knee injury, forcing her to cancel the last part of her tour. Her personal life, however, seemed to be flourishing. Spears and Federline married on September 18, 2004, in Studio City, California.
Shortly after her wedding, she released Greatest Hits: My Prerogative. Spears covered the Bobby Brown hit "My Prerogative," which seemed to be her way of talking back to her critics and lashing out about the media frenzy that continually surrounded her. The recording sold 5 million copies, a million less than In the Zone.
Despite her declining sales, Spears seemed contented. She and her husband announced that they were expecting their first child together in April 2005. "I find being pregnant empowering. I think it brings out a pure side of you," Spears told People magazine. As fascinated as the media and the public had been about this young couple, few people tuned in to catch a glimpse of their 2005 reality show Britney and Kevin: Chaotic, which told the story of their early relationship through personal videos. That September, the couple welcomed son Sean Preston.
The new mother found herself in hot water in February 2006, after she was caught on film driving her car with her infant son in her lap. Her parenting skills became a subject of national debate, and she was even rebuked by Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta for her actions. Calling her behavior "irresponsible" and "troubling," Mineta said that Spears was sending "the wrong message to millions of her fans." Spears apologized for the incident, claiming that she just wanted to get away from the paparazzi. "I love my baby more than anything, and as unfortunate an experience as this has been for me and my family, if it brings more attention to child safety then I fully support that," she told People magazine.
In September 2006, Spears and Federline had a new addition to their young family with the birth of their son Jayden James. But Spears made a surprising move two months later when she filed for divorce, claiming "irreconcilable differences." After her separation, Spears frequented the club scene for a time, partying with socialite Paris Hilton among others. She reportedly checked in and out rehabilitation, and then shaved her head in a California beauty salon while the paparazzi took pictures in February 2007. She told the salon owner that "my mom is going to freak." The following month, Spears spent time at a treatment center in California.
By the summer, Spears and Federline were in the midst of a difficult custody battle. Federline sought full physical custody of their two sons. She was also estranged from her mother. Despite her personal challenges, Spears moved forward with her latest album. The single, "Gimme More," was released in August and received a warm reception from the public and critics. But Spears' performance of the song at that year's MTV Video Music Award was a disaster. She appeared nervous on stage, sluggishly dancing and poorly lip-syncing. The following month, Spears was charged in connection to a hit-and-run incident in a parking lot.
Britney wasn't the only member of her family making headlines in 2007, however. Her younger sister, actress Jamie Lynn, announced that she was pregnant at the age of 16. Jamie Lynn, who was a star on cable's kid-friendly Nickelodeon channel at the time, became a controversial symbol of teen pregnancy.
Despite these setbacks, the album Blackout reached the second slot on the Billboard charts after its November release. This comeback of sorts seemed to be short-lived, as Spears appeared to have yet another breakdown in January 2008. She was taken to the hospital for psychiatric evaluation when she refused to return her sons to their father after a court-appointed visit. Federline eventually received full custody of the two boys.
By month's end, Spears returned to the hospital for another evaluation. Rumors circulated that she had bipolar disorder, but that diagnosis has not been confirmed. Her mother, Lynne, later wrote in her memoir Through the Storm that she believed her daughter experienced postpartum depression.
While in the hospital, Spears became the subject of a power struggle between her parents, Jamie and Lynne, and her then-manager Sam Lufti. The couple believed that Lufti was a bad influence on their daughter and was trying to control her life. Her father went to court and obtained control over Britney's personal, professional, and medical matters.
Only two months after her personal crisis, Spears returned to the spotlight with a well-received guest appearance on the popular sitcom How I Met Your Mother. She released her next recording Circus in December, which instantly hit the top of the album charts, buoyed in part by the success of her single "Womanizer," which was released two months earlier. The song had reached the No. 1 spot, proving that Spears was still a powerful force in the world of pop music. Rolling Stone critic Caryn Ganz heralded the recording as "clubby, adventurous pop." And her fans agreed, sending the singles "Piece of Me" and "Circus" into the pop Top 20 and Top 10, respectively.
One year after her poor showing at the MTV Video Music Awards, Spears made a triumphant return, bringing home three awards for "Piece of Me." She has been touring extensively to support the album, and her ex-husband even joined her for a time with their sons so that she could spend some time with her boys.
Spears seems to have settled down after a turbulent time, telling Glamour magazine that "I don't like going out...I love my home and staying in bed and watching Dancing with the Stars or reading a Danielle Steel novel. I'm kind of boring."
Britney Spears's Timeline
December 2, 1981
McComb, MS, USA
January 3, 2004
Las Vegas, NV, USA
January 5, 2004
October 6, 2004
Studio City, CA