she began appearing as a judge on the popular singing-competition show The X Factor.
Singer, songwriter and actress Britney Jean Spears was born on December 2, 1981, in Kentwood, Louisiana. For more than a decade, Britney Spears has been one of the most successful—and sometimes controversial—solo acts in popular music. For a time, however, she was better known for her personal struggles. Spears launched her latest comeback in 2008, releasing a new album and setting out on a world tour.
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 8 years old, 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.
'Baby One More Time'
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 ...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—for 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 alumnae 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 its first week. The singer's 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.
A Sexier ImageWith 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.