October 23, 1998.
The date on which the music industry – and the world – was introduced to Britney Spears’ iconic, legendary and life-changing hit, Baby One More Time. The pop song charted at number one in every country, became a massive success, was the best selling song of 1999 and has since then, sold around 10 million copies. While critics were unsure about the song, the world had already decided that they had fallen in love with Britney.
Rolling Stone magazine called her “one of the most controversial and successful female vocalists of the 21st century”, and stated that Spears’ unique mix of “innocence and experience” had broken the bank. Immediately upon her debut, Spears became an international pop icon and the epitome of the American dream. At once girly and provocative, the songstress followed the success of her debut single with Oops!… I Did It Again. Spears went on to develop the provocative side of her public persona and her Dream Within a Dream Tour and performance at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards was praised for the intricate detailing and heavy dance routines. So powerful was she that when she starred in Crossroads, a critically panned and forgettable film, her performance was praised and the movie broke the bank.
It’s hard to put into words what today means to me… 20 years ago, the world heard my music for the very first time! So much has happened since then… but what I really want to say is thank you to my amazing fans who have been there for me since day 1… pic.twitter.com/oeMipXCSl9
— Britney Spears (@britneyspears) October 23, 2018
Then, of course, came her much-publicised breakup with Justin Timberlake. Timberlake released “Cry Me a River” and has since then, not stopped talking about how he was Spears’ boyfriend and how she did him dirty. In 2003, during the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, Spears and Madonna locked lips following a performance of Like A Virgin. Years later, nobody has forgotten the iconic lip-lock between the duo despite the fact that there was another legendary singer on the stage who also made out with Madonna – Christina Aguilera.
From Timberlake to Kevin Federline, Spears’ relationships always received intense media scrutiny – everyone wanted to know what the blonde bombshell was up to. Anything with Spears in it would sell and the media knew this.
Then, 2007 happened. Already in the midst of severe personal crises, the singer performed at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards which was an absolute disaster. She also lost physical custody of her children who were given to Federline and yet, despite all this, her singles Gimme More and Piece of Me were unimaginably successful in every country they charted in. The world was still very much obsessed with Britney Spears, even after nine years.
The 36-year-old singer has been an inspiration for multiple artists and is hugely respected for coming up stronger following her multiple public breakdowns. Despite being a part of the industry for around 20 years now, Spears has always managed to reinvent her look and has consistently delivered fantastic music. Despite being unfavourably and unethically dragged and trashed in the media multiple times, Spears has always built herself up, picking up the pieces and coming back stronger.
October 23, 1998, was a long time ago . . . and yet, Britney Spears is still one of the most talked about personalities in the world – her music is still selling like hot cakes, her love life is still being talked about and she is right up there with the greats like Whitney Houston, Madonna and Janet Jackson. It’s been 20 years and she is still Miss American Dream and the world still wants a piece of Britney Spears.