Legendary singer, songwriter, and teen pop pioneer, Britney Spears contributed so much to the revival of the genre that she’s generally referred to as the “Princess of Pop”. Yet, although it seems strange to say now, the pop icon was not always as widely celebrated and universally adored as she currently is, and Spears’ road to success was as long and arduous as any other.
Britney Spears released her first single, ‘…Baby One More Time’, in 1998. Almost immediately propelling the young artist to stardom, the track won numerous awards at the time of release and stood the test of time by continuing to win accolades in the 21st century like the Best Song of NOW Years.
Ultimately, ‘…Baby One More Time’ proved to be one of Spears’ most iconic songs, but it’s worth keeping in mind that the artist had put in plenty of groundwork prior to the release of the single. In fact, Spears was involved in music and the performing arts since the age of three, and the story of how the artist rose to prominence is as fascinating as her later career.
How Did Britney Spears Become Famous?
Born in McComb, Mississippi, Spears grew up in a part of the country that is colloquially referred to as the “Bible Belt” due to the pervasiveness and influence of evangelical Protestantism. And, it was because of her religious upbringing that Spears began singing in a church choir.
Alongside the choir, Spears also attended dance lessons and performed at local events such as talent shows and annual recitals. It’s also said that, when the star was just five-years-old, she sang “What Child Is This?” at her kindergarten graduation.
Clearly a precocious child, Spears, reflecting on her upbringing once, said: “I found out what I’m supposed to do at an early age”.
In terms of identifying Spears’ big break, there’s no reason to look much further than her role in the revival of ‘The Mickey Mouse Club’, a variety TV show which first aired in 1955.
Starring alongside other burgeoning stars such a Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling, and Keri Russell, Spears featured on ‘The Mickey Mouse Club’ until 1996, two years before the release of ‘…Baby One More Time’.
Called “freakishly talented” during her time on the show, Spears was granted the opportunity to announce herself on the national stage and establish her credentials from a young age.
The Princess of Pop
Following the release of her debut single – which topped the U.S. Billboard 200 – and debut album, it wasn’t long before Spears released her second album ‘Oops! …I Did It Again’ in 2020. Topping the charts once again, the album is also believed to have sold 1.3 million copies upon release.
In fact, the album would go on to hold the title for the most sales in a single week for a female artist for an astonishing 15 years.
The amazing thing about the princess of pop’s career is that she achieved so much, and released so much of her most adored music, from such an early age.
To date, Spears has released nine studio albums and 43 singles. And, without a doubt, Spears’ fans across the globe eagerly await further releases.
Yet, the pop icon’s later career was destined to be marred by shocking headlines regarding her professional and personal relationship with her father, Jamie Spears, and a number of other legal guardians.
In 2020, revelations in the media exposed the complex and repressive legal arrangements behind the artist’s career and personal life. One media outlet stated: “The Princess of Pop’s career has been in the hands of legal guardians known as a conservatorship since she faced a mental health crisis 12 years ago.
“The terms of the arrangement have never been publicly released, but it restricts the singer’s autonomy.”
Long story short, Spears’ father and attorney maintain control over much of the star’s existence. The media have even suggested that everything from Spears’ finances, to who Spears sees, and what is communicated with healthcare professionals, is all restricted and controlled by the conservatorship.
Following the revelations, Spears’ fans and other sympathetic activists popularised the #FreeBritney movement. While existing as an online fan site ever since 2009, the movement has gained momentum in recent times and has now snowballed into public protests outside courtrooms in Los Angeles.
Generally speaking, revelations surrounding restrictions on Spears’ personal freedoms and autonomy are alarming, but promising signs of change have been seen.