Say you have this blonde-headed 17 year-old schoolgirl, dancing in a white shirt and plaid skirt, singing a catchy pop song, whom could never do anything wrong. Little girls dream about being her and grown men dream about being with her. She is a role model. And then, suddenly, the more she sings, the more controversial she gets. Her outfits become revealing, her social life becomes a mess, and her stress release leads to experimentation. On top of that, her music quality starts to dwindle. It seems that America’s dream girl isn’t so perfect after all.
This story may sound familiar, as it has been an epic developing from Britney Spears’ birth on December 2, 1981 to her current cutting-edge video, “Toxic,” that has been airing all over MTV. She has had a bumpy road (to say the least) to get where she is at today, but is her career in the world of entertainment coming to a close? Is her career on the rise or on the fall? Let’s take a closer look.
Britney has had an incredible start. She has been in show business ever since she was an 11 year-old on the Mickey Mouse Club, where she got her start as a Mouseketter. Shortly, she began recording demos until Jive Records picked her up. In late 1998, she released her first single, “Baby, One More Time” (which would ultimately be the name of her album). This track had such a great beat, catchy lyrics, terrific vocals, and a nice video to promote the music. Then, she exploded. “Baby, One More Time,” landed at the number one spot on the singles chart, and in addition to that, her debut album would be released in early 1999 and that immediately fly to the number one slot. She had the largest debut in album sales for a female artist, but she did have a little help from the other songs she released, “Sometimes,” and “Crazy.”
This was the best thing going on. Here, you have a sweet, attractive, innocent girl singing her heart out and she was only 17 years-old. She not only appealed to the young female audience, but men started enjoying Britney (either for her looks or talent). The thing that made this more intense was the lack of young female performers in mainstream music. Sure, you had Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, and Madonna, but they were older than Britney. What Britney brought to the table was her age. Never before in the late 1990’s was there a young pop vocalist who had the virgin image and dancing ability. The great thing is that other record labels noticed this and followed suit. How do you think the Christina Aguilera’s, the Jessica Simpson’s, and the Mandy Moore’s popped up?
With multiple hit singles, her career was only going further. In 2000, she released, “Oops! … I Did It Again,” and in its opening week, it sold over 1.3 million copies. She was moving in the right direction. She released the leadoff track, (which is the same as the album title), “Oops! … I Did It Again,” the second single, “Lucky,” and her third major tune, “Stronger.” This is where the controversy really started taking shape. There were two big rumors floating around. The first of which would be whether or not she was dating the most noticeable member of N’SYNC, Justin Timberlake (later revealed that she was) and the second would be whether or not she had breast implants (which has been denied). Look at the equation now: multiplatinum selling albums, number one hits, dating a popular male from a well-known group, and just enough racket to keep her in peoples’ minds.
Then, people started lashing out against Britney Spears. During her performance at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, she stripped down to a revealing skin colored outfit. This caused a lot of angry parents and journalists to look down at Ms. Spears. They felt that she was telling kids that it is ok to strip. But doesn’t the saying go, “bad publicity is better than none?”
Even though Britney got negative vibes for her recent actions, she was working on her third album. Always around release time, she would be in the hot spot. She was saying how she wasn’t a little girl anymore, but mature, and her music is going to reflect that outlook. She probably took the attitude, “My performance at the 2000 MTV Awards was inappropriate, eh? WAM! Buy my new album.” She released her album, “Britney” in 2001 and the lead off tune was “I’m A Slave 4 U” (which could be considered the only somewhat successful single). “Britney” sold an impressive 746,000 albums in the opening week, but it was about half the amount she sold with “Oops … I Did It Again.”
For the next few years, it would be downhill from here. Britney got bashed due to her 2001 MTV Award performance, where she danced with revealing clothes and a snake wrapped around her neck. Then, her longtime boyfriend, Justin Timberlake dumped her in 2002. During an interview with Diane Sawyer, she cried. Her family had health problems. At first, she said she never did drugs and then, admitted to experimenting (not to mention, drinking under-age). On top of that, Fred Durst (Limp Bizkit Singer) claimed he engaged in sex with Britney Spears. Britney denied having sex with Durst, but admitted she was no longer a virgin. Then, at the 2003 MTV Awards, she French-kissed Madonna on live television. The biggest bombshell would happen right after New Year’s in 2004 when she married one of her hometown friends from Louisiana, only to get it annulled 55 hours later.
In late 2003, Britney unleashed “In The Zone,” her fourth album, and also released the first track (featuring a duet with Madonna), “Me Against The Music.” Her current single, which is blazing up the charts, “Toxic.” The opening week had another drop in record sales compared to her previous efforts. Although it is still amazing, she only moved 609,000 units.
This leaves one to wonder, “Is Britney Spears on the rise or fall?” By looking at the info, when Britney first came out, she was the hottest craze and kinda started a new music sub-trend. When she was young, she broke out, which eventually introduced a slue of young female artists. At that time, it was easier to market a teen pop superstar to the masses. She was the big fish in a little pond, but since she is no longer a young lady, she is entering a big pond as a little fish. She is attempting to enter a league where the contenders are of the likes of Madonna, Mariah Carey, Pink, Kelly Clarkson, and Beyonce Knowles. If you’re songs haven’t been up to par with these ladies, then it is easy to get lost in the mix.
Jive Records always does a great job advertising Britney’s albums, but the quality is declining. She has had terrific media exposure right before every one of her albums appeared in stores. Whether it’s good or bad, her compilation can be guaranteed to sell several hundred thousand copies. She releases her best song in the beginning, but doesn’t have too many good supporting songs to back up her momentum. She just released “Toxic,” which is probably her best song since she unveiled Lucky in 2000. Since 1999’s “Oops … I Did It Again” emerged in stores, opening week sales for her following two albums have dropped (from 1.3 million to 746,000 to 609,000).
So, what does she have to do to maintain longevity? If Britney wants to continue to be a force to be reckoned with, then she must present incredible songs that catch our eye like she did when she first came out. Her original audience is also dying out. With all these allegations and rumors, it hurt her image. Since she is no longer a little girl, it’s a slightly tougher for her to preserve a teen crowd and regarding her male audience; they are mainly interested in her body (if they were once into her music, they aren’t anymore). But, it all relies in her music and her ability to perform. Hey, doing Playboy couldn’t hurt either.
So, now we have this 22 year-old dancing around in skimpy outfits, trying to appeal to everyone like she was before. The only question is, who’s listening now?
So, is Britney on the Rise or the Fall? Leave a comment and tell us …