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Last Updated: Monday, 20 September, 2004, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
Britney's life in the public eye
By Tom Bishop
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Britney Spears
Spears' fame has endured since her first hit five years ago
Britney Spears' second marriage in nine months was another landmark in the 22-year-old pop star's frantic career.

The singer led a resurgence of teen pop in the US, conquering music markets around the world with four multi-million selling albums.

Shrewd marketing has extended Spears' influence beyond the confines of her music, resulting in her widespread - if not particularly deep - impact on popular culture.

Born in Kentwood, Louisiana, on 2 December 1981, Spears appeared in local dance revues and church choirs as a young girl.

Too young

Encouraged by her manager mother Lynne Spears, she auditioned for US TV series The Mickey Mouse Club aged eight, but was too young to participate.

Nevertheless a producer on the show introduced Spears to a New York agent, and she was subsequently trained as a child actor with the Professional Performing Arts School Center.

As an 11-year-old she returned to The Mickey Mouse Club, working as a presenter and dancer for two years alongside future boyfriend Justin Timberlake and future pop rival Christina Aguilera.

Britney Spears
Spears was a child actor before starring in The Mickey Mouse Club

Spears also began to audition for pop groups, attracting the attention of New York firm Jive Records.

They put her in the studio with established producer Eric Foster White, who had worked with Boyzone and Whitney Houston, and enlisted Backstreet Boys writer Max Martin to produce her debut single Baby One More Time.

Assisted by its Lolita-esque video, the single rapidly became a huge global hit and UK chart-topper in 1999.

The Baby One More Time album was similarly successful, spawning a further three hit singles.

Titillating image

The contrast between Spears' professed sexual innocence and her titillating image caused much debate about her status as a role model for teenage girls, raising her profile even further.

Barely a year after the release of her debut, Spears' second album Oops! I Did It Again surpassed its success in 2000.

Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears
Her public relationship with Justin Timberlake ended in 2002
But her public image began to overshadow her music, even as she enlisted acclaimed hip-hop producers The Neptunes on 2001 single I'm A Slave For You.

That same year her third album presented Spears as maturing young woman, with songs such as the Dido-penned I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman.

Spears' sexual maturity was also hinted at in her debut film Crossroads, in which she played Lucy - an aspiring performer who sings along to Britney Spears songs.

The 2002 film was universally derided, causing disillusionment among supporters that was compounded by her refusal to meet fans at its London premiere, claiming to do so would be a security risk.

Year-long break

After her cover of Joan Jett's I Love Rock 'n' Roll limped into the lower reaches of the singles chart, Spears took a year-long break from music.

As fickle fans moved on to Avril Lavigne, Christina Aguilera and Busted, the Spears faithful were left to digest the fact that their heroine had officially split from N'Sync's Justin Timberlake, now a pop star in his own right.

Spears' 2003 return was preceded with her proclamation that she had lost her virginity, and an onscreen kiss with Madonna during the MTV's Video Music Awards.

Britney Spears and Madonna
Spears kissed Madonna onscreen before their duet was released
Her duet with Madonna - Me Against the Music - failed to top the charts, however, and her experimental fourth album In The Zone earned mixed reviews.

She ended 2003 by cutting short a UK promotional tour for the album, citing ill-health, disappearing from public view at an apparent low-point in her career.

That was soon rectified as Spears started 2004 by travelling to Las Vegas and getting married to her childhood friend Jason Alexander.

The 55-hour marriage was soon annulled, however, Spears claiming the wedding was a joke that had gone too far. "I was in Vegas and it took over me," she told MTV.

Raunchy video

As her music career seemed lost without a trace, Spears summoned up the power of the medium that had established her as a pop star in the first place - the music video.

She embellished album track Toxic with a raunchy video that was promptly banned from daytime broadcast in the US. It sped to number one in the UK and re-established Spears as a pop star, her status confirmed by follow-up hit Everytime.

Spears' recent troubles were not over, however, as a knee injury sustained in a music video shoot forced her to cancel the summer leg of her North American tour.

A month later, she had become engaged to Kevin Federline, a 26-year-old father-of-two who had been a dancer on the aborted tour.

While their ceremony in Los Angeles was kept private, at least for the time being, the resulting publicity boost will be unlikely to harm sales of Spears' forthcoming greatest hits album.

Britney marries for second time
20 Sep 04 |  Entertainment
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27 Aug 04 |  Entertainment
Injured Britney cancels US tour
16 Jun 04 |  Entertainment
Spears in surgery for knee injury
10 Jun 04 |  Entertainment
Britney dropped from stalker case
22 May 04 |  Entertainment


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