Whatever you think of her, it’s hard to deny Britney Spears’ impact in the past decade. As an artist, she has numerous hit singles that have seeped into our consciousness whether we like it or not. As a tabloid celebrity, it’s been impossible to look away from her downward spiral. Her antics in the mid 2000s, are the stuff of legend. She’s a 21st century Marilyn Monroe – a hyper-sexualized mild talent, who is naive enough to generate sympathy from her critics.
It was hard to escape songs by The Backstreet Boys, and N’sync in the early 2000s even if you wanted to. Even before she became a house-hold name, Spears rose above the rest. Most of this had to do with the infamous “Baby One More Time” video. With a walk down a school hall-way and a Catholic School Uniform, Britney declared herself queen of the pop-world before she was 18. It’s one of the last videos to be a significant event. And even for pop the song itself was actually quite good – as proved by the numerous covers by artists outside of the pop world.
Even if she had never put out another single, Spears would still be remembered. But she kept going, establishing herself as a pop juggernaut, not seen since Madonna. At Britney’s height there were numerous women pop stars – Mandy Moore, Jessica Simpson, Christina Aguilera – but none of them were even in competition with Spears. Not even close. And while her peers attempted to label themselves – Aguilera the one who could sing, Simpson the virgin – Britney Spears was simply Britney Spears. Eventually, if you said the name Britney – you meant Britney Spears.
Like many of her songs, “Oops I Did It Again” the sexual undertones were at the forefront. But the title also seemed to suggest she seemed perplexed that she was still there, even bigger than before. When she kissed Madonna on the lips at the Video Music Awards – which sent many men and women too in a frenzy for various reasons – it was more than sexual. Madonna officially handed her over her crown to Spears through the kiss. For years even the most cynical music fans tried to ignore Spears. Then there was “Toxic” – the song that even music snobs had to admit was really, really good. It was catchy and weird, and you couldn’t get those synthesized violins out of your head. The little girl who danced around a high school, had truly grown up in front of our eyes.
Spears seemed to go out of fashion musically in the latter part of the decade. Her troubles got the best of her. She was crazy, and seemed destined to self-destruct. There were still album and singles from her, but none of them seemed to have the same impact. In the meantime, other female pop-artists took up her mantle and captured audiences imagination. And once again, her peers tended to label themselves. Katy Perry – the cute tease, Lady Gaga – the weird art pop-artist, and Kesha – the trashy party girl.
When Spears announced that she would be releasing a new album earlier this year, critics and fans wondered if she would be able to compete with Lady Gaga, pop’s latest reigning queen. No need to worry though. Unlike Christina Aguilera who desperately tried to reinvent herself with last year’s Bionic, Spear came back with Femme Fatale and boldly declared: “I am Britney Spears, and I am pop.”