1998-2000: Rise To Fame
Spears’s debut single “…Baby One More Time”, released at the end of 1998, became an instant international success; it peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and sold nine million copies worldwide. The song was also ranked 25th on Rolling Stone and MTV’s “100 Greatest Pop Songs of all time”. The music video of the song features Spears dressed in a midriff-baring schoolgirl uniform. The album of the same title was released in January 1999, reaching number one on the Billboard 200. …Baby One More Time was certified diamond in the U.S. and subsequently achieving worldwide sales of 28 million copies, making it the biggest-selling album by a teenager to date. Spears broke the record in U.S for the youngest artist to have their debut single at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. She also broke the record for the youngest artist to have their debut single and debut album simultaneously at number one on the Billboard charts. Spears still holds this record to date. The album received mixed reviews. Allmusic gave it 4 out of 5 stars, stating that the album “has the same blend of infectious, rap-inflected dance-pop and smooth balladry that propelled the New Kids and Debbie Gibson.” While Rolling Stone gave it 2 out of 5, noting that “while several Cherion-crafted kiddie-funk jams serve up beefy hooks, shameless schlock slowies, like ‘E-Mail My Heart’, are pure spam”. The success of Spears’s music coupled with her controversial image made her one of the year’s biggest stars. In December 1999, she won four Billboard Music Awards, including Female Artist of the Year. A month later, she took home the Favorite Pop/Rock New Artist award at the American Music Awards. At the 2000 Grammy Awards, Spears received two nominations in the categories of Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for …Baby One More Time, but lost to American singer Christina Aguilera and Canadian musician-singer Sarah McLachlan, respectively. Following the success of her previous album, Spears released the album Oops!… I Did It Again. It debuted at number one in the U.S. by selling 1,319,193 units during its first week of sales, breaking the SoundScan record for the highest album sales in its debut week by any solo artist. The RIAA awarded the album with a diamond certification with 10 million copies sold in the U.S. Concerning both musical content and sales, the album was very similar to Spears’s debut, although it fared better with critics. Allmusic once again gave it 4 out of 5 stars, saying that the album “has the same combination of sweetly sentimental ballads and endearingly gaudy dance-pop that made One More Time.” Rolling Stone gave the album 3.5 stars out of 5 by noting the album as “fantastic pop cheese” and “Britney’s demand for satisfaction is complex, fierce and downright scary.” The album’s lead single of the same name broke the record for most radio station additions in a single day, and quickly became a top ten hit in the U.S. and other countries. The same year, Spears launched her first world tour, the “Oops!… I Did It Again World Tour”. During the tour, she made a stop in New York for the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards. As part of her performance, she ripped off a black suit to reveal a provocative nude-colored and crystal-adorned outfit that generated much controversy. She finished the year with two more Billboard Music Awards, and two Grammy nominations for Oops!… I Did It Again in the categories of Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. She is the most popular and obvious popstar singer.
2001–2003: Career Development
Spears released her third studio album Britney in November 2001. Although not as successful as her previous albums, she assumed some creative control by co-writing five of the album’s tracks. It surpassed Michael Jackson’s album Invincible when it had a successful debut at number one in the U.S. by selling 745,744 units during its first week. The album’s success made her the only female artist in music history to have her first three albums debut at number one. The album fared well with critics such as Allmusic who gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars, describing the album’s title tracks as being “pivotal moments on Britney Spears’s third album, the record where she strives to deepen her persona, making it more adult while still recognizably Britney.” In contrast, Rolling Stone said of the album Britney “belabors the obvious: Spears is one month away from entering her twenties and clearly needs to grow up if she’s going to bring her fans along.” The singles did not perform as well; Britney’s lead single “I’m a Slave 4 U” peaked at 27 on the Billboard Hot 100 making it the album’s biggest hit. To help promote the album, Spears embarked on the Dream Within a Dream Tour in November 2001. The tour was forced to cut short in Mexico City due to bad weather. With the end to her tour, Spears announced she would take a six month break from her career. Spears made her third consecutive MTV Video Music Awards performance. While performing “I’m a Slave 4 U”, she controversially utilized caged animals and danced erotically with a large albino python draped over her shoulders. Animal-rights organization PETA claimed that the animals featured in the performance were mistreated and cancelled plans for an anti-fur billboard that was to feature Spears. Her career success was highlighted by Forbes magazine in 2002 as Spears was ranked the world’s most powerful celebrity. At a performance at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, she appeared with Aguilera performing the song “Like a Virgin”, and was later joined by American pop singer Madonna. Spears locked lips with Madonna in a highly-publicized kiss.In November 2003, Spears released her 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 eight of the album’s thirteen songs and co-produced several pieces of her material for the first time. In the Zone reached number one in the U.S. charts during its debut week, selling over 609,000 copies. This made Spears the first female in the Nielsen SoundScan era to have her first four studio albums to debut at number one. The album had a mild reception from critics. Stylus Magazine gave the album a D and even blamed Spears’s career choices by stating, “Ultimately, In the Zone suffers greatly from Britney’s uneasy transition from teen tart to sexually powerful woman. Had Britney been in charge of her career direction instead of mercilessly prostituted by her management, she might have been able to produce something with some semblance of musical vision.” The Guardian praised the album’s melodies and her effort, giving it 4 out of 5 stars and writing, “Unlike previous Britney albums, In the Zone has no filler and no shoddy cover versions, just 57 varieties of blue-chip hit-factory pop. There is southern hip-hop, deep house, Neptunes-style R&B, the ubiquitous Diwali beat and, most importantly, oodles of Madonna.” The album spawned the hit single “Toxic”, winning Spears her first ever Grammy in the category of Best Dance Recording. The Onyx Hotel Tour began in March 2004 to promote the album. The tour’s choreography generated much controversy and criticism, with the presence of young children in the audience.
2004–2005: Greatest Hits and Remix Album
After her marriage to Kevin Federline, Spears announced on her website she was taking another career break in order to start a family. November 2004 saw the release of her first greatest hits collection, Greatest Hits: My Prerogative, which features all of Spears’s singles with the exception of “From The Bottom Of My Broken Heart”. It also featured three previously unreleased songs, them being a cover version of American R&B singer Bobby Brown’s 1988 hit “My Prerogative”, “Do Somethin’”, produced by Bloodshy and Avant, whom she had worked with on In The Zone, and “I’ve Just Begun (Havin’ My Fun)”, which was a song recorded for Spears’s fourth album, In The Zone, but did not make the final cut. By the end of that year, Spears had become one of the best-selling artists in the world. In November 2005, Spears released her first remix album, B In The Mix: The Remixes. The album ranged from “…Baby One More Time” to “Toxic”. Her newest single “Someday (I Will Understand)” was also remixed. Another single, “And Then We Kiss”, was only released in Asia, where it charted in many countries. The song peaked at number 15 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Airplay chart, despite it not being officially released in the U.S.
2006–2007: Return to Music
In May 2007, she produced a mini-tour for the House of Blues just after she left a rehabilitation facility under the name The M+M’s; with six shows altogether, she sang live during some lines of her songs. She recorded her latest album with producers such as Sean Garrett, J. R. Rotem and Nate “Danja” Hills throughout 2006 and 2007. The release of Spears’s fifth album, Blackout, was rescheduled to October 30 2007 rather than November 13 2007 due to online leaks. Blackout debuted at number two on the U.S. Billboard 200. It was fairly well received by critics. Rolling Stone gave the album 3.5 out of 5 stars. Allmusic also rated the album 3.5 out of 5 stars, calling Blackout “coherent and entertaining” and stating that “it holds together better than any of her other records”. Blackout’s lead single, “Gimme More” leaked on the internet on August 30. The song, which was Spears’s first produced by Danja, peaked at number three on Billboard’s Hot 100 on October 3, making it her most successful single in the U.S. since her debut, “…Baby One More Time”. Spears’s highly-anticipated performance of “Gimme More” at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards was panned. The BBC stated that “her performance would go down in the history books as being one of the worst to grace the MTV Awards”, and The Times noted that “Spears was out of synch as she lip-synched and at times just stopped singing altogether”. Despite the criticism on her performance, the single has achieved worldwide success.
2008: Sixth Studio Album
(This article contains information about a scheduled or expected future album. The content may change as the album release approaches and more information becomes available.)
Music producers, J. R. Rotem and Sean Garrett, whom worked with Spears on her previous album, Blackout have confirmed to People that they are back in the studio with Spears. A source also told the magazine that she is in the experimental stages of a new album and Spears is trying to find the sound and direction she wants to go in. Music producer Guy Sigsworth spoke with the Los Angeles Times and said that he has signed on to work with Spears on her upcoming album due out later in the year. Sigsworth previously produced her single “Everytime” in 2004. Other music producers that have signed on for the project include Darkchild and Dallas Austin Jive Records and manager, Larry Rudolph, have confirmed that Spears has been working on the new album throughout the summer of 2008 with no release date planned yet. Although Fox News reports that Spears’s record label, is expecting to release the album by mid-December. It has has been also announced that Justin Timberlake and Timbaland would be working with Britney on her new album, and OK! Magazine had confirmed this by also saying that Spears’ first single would be a duet featuring Timberlake, it hasn’t been confirmed by neither parties but a reliable source has confirmed this to the magazine publication. Kanye West, Taio Cruz have also been announced to be producing some songs for Britney’s anticipated sixth album. Other music producers and song writers confirmed for the project include Danja, Jim Beanz, Kara Dioguardi, Keri Hilson, Babyface, Polow Da Don, Fredwreck, Bloodshy & Avant, Bryan-Michael Cox, Damon Elliott, and The Runawayz. Singer-songwriter Lady Gaga and Fernando Garibay are also working with Spears with the new recordings.