'Setting the Record Straight'
Dance-pop singer Britney Spears took the pop world by storm in the late 90's, single-handedly bringing back the girl pop singer and paving the way for artists like Christina Aguelera and Pink to dominate the marketplace. Perfectly cast in the role of an innocent schoolgirl upon her first appearance, the gradual move into adulthood provided a platform for change that didn't seem the least bit contrived or forced. On the contrary, her growth reflected the changing tastes of audiences and provided some of the biggest radio songs of the era.
She was born in Kentwood, LA on December 2, 1981; after honing her chops in local dance showcases and church choirs, at age eight she auditioned for a role on the Disney Channel's Mickey Mouse Club show, and although the series' producers deemed her too young for the job they were sufficiently impressed with the girl's talent to assist her in gaining entry to New York's Off-Broadway Dance Center and the Professional Performing Arts School. After a series of television commercials and stage appearances, at 11 Spears finally joined The Mickey Mouse Club, where she remained for two seasons; continuing on as a solo artist, she signed to Jive Records and in early 1999 issued her first LP, ...Baby One More Time.
The record was a massive hit, debuting atop the pop charts and reeling off a series of radio smashes including the title track, "(You Drive Me) Crazy" and "From the Bottom of My Broken Heart" on its way to becoming the best-selling album ever released by a teenage girl. Spears' success also spawned legions of imitators, most notable among them Christina Aguilera and Jessica Simpson. Her sophomore effort, Oops!...I Did It Again, followed in the spring of 2000. Proving that the shackles of teenagedom were wearing off, she began to project herself sexy in Pepsi commercials, videos, and other publicity items.
2001's simply titled Britney proved that point with the record cover showing her with a new and freshly mature look (especially when compared to the cover of her 1999 debut ... Baby One More Time), while subsequent photo shoots concentrated on tight jeans, tight abs, and low cut shirts. Capitalizing on this new image, she attempted to document this growth in a road trip movie, 'Crossroads.' Playing a teenager crossing the country for a shot at fame and fortune in the music industry, the film was an amiable attempt at presenting Britney to film goers.
Timberlake and Britney also split, and comments throughout the year from both parties began to undo the public image of a pure and innocent Britney. Still, Spears remained a huge public figure as an appearance in the third 'Austin Powers' film provided not only big laughs but a huge hit single, 'Boys'.
In light of your recent trials and tribulations, how have you managed to keep so level-headed ? "I try to go home as often as I can to spend time with my family, my mom makes me tidy my room, wash up and do all the normal chores. When I'm on the road I try to surround myself with normal people. My friend/assistant Fe travels everywhere with me and we try to do normal things like shopping, going to the gym, etc."
How did you ever even make time to speak to Justin before your unfortunate break-up ? "You just find the time. We both had to make an effort to set some time aside. We used to speak at least once a day."
What's your worst bad habit ? "I bite my fingernails – but recently I've been really good and am trying to grow them."
What was it like to sing a song Shania Twain wrote for you ? "It was amazing – I have always been a fan of hers, since she started, and for her to write a song for me was a dream come true. 'Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know' is one of my favourite songs off the album and I love performing it live."
Who or what inspires your ideas for songs and music videos ? "My musical inspirations come from all sorts of people and experiences. My main musical influences are Madonna, Janet Jackson and Shania Twain, but with regards to video's I just like to have fun and try to think of what an audience wants to see."
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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