From teen to superstar: The story of Britney Spears

“…Baby One More Time” debuted 21 years ago

Aaaahh… the 1990s. The Last Great Decade. Everybody was doing the Macarena, people were allowed to smoke on airplanes and life seemed pretty good. In terms of the music during this particular time period, Grunge had overtaken the earlier part of the ‘90s whereas East Coast/West Coast Rap dominated the middle part of the decade. After the Death of both Tupac and Biggie, the music industry seemed to have lost its way and was on the verge of something big. 1997 became the year Americans witnessed the first wave of girl groups and boy bands, such as Spice Girls and Hanson, making a big impact on the Billboard charts and on the hearts of many American teens. 

October 23, 1998 – An iconic date that will become ingrained into the minds of many young millennial girls who were alive at the time. A young and sweet Britney Spears dropped what would become not only her signature song, but would kickstart the teen pop phenomena of the late ’90s and early ‘00s. “…Baby One More Time” changed the game for the music industry. The song altered the landscape of pop culture after a period of decline during the grunge and hip-hop period. It was at this point where people, primarily teenagers, really fell in love with the genre again. 

The debut single topped the charts in early 1999 on the all-genre inclusive Billboard Hot 100. Not to mention “…Baby One More Time” reached the number one spot in all countries in which the song charted in. This helped the song become one of the best-selling singles of all time, with over 10 million copies sold and becoming certified Platinum.

Following her success, more teenage pop stars soon followed from the likes of Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson and Mandy Moore in 1999. Britney Spears, single-handedly, showed the world that teenage girls can handle the superstardom of success and fame.

The music video alone has left an impressionable mark on the visual lens of teenagers and men over 30. Fun fact: The entire concept of the music video was entirely Britney’s idea. Not only has the “…Baby One More Time” video given us the ideal Halloween costume for years to come, but has pushed the boundaries of female promiscuity and sexuality. 

On a grander scale, the 1990s were a time of musical explosion and independence that created some of the best and unforgettable songs of the 20th Century, such as “…Baby One More Time.”

Britney Spears is an iconic performer who has graced the stage for over twenty years. Once graced as America’s sweetheart, many have witnessed her early success with albums “…Oops! I Did It Again” (2000), “Britney” (2001) and “In the Zone” (2003). We have also seen her go through some very troublesome years resulting in a loss of parental custody and a public meltdown of epic proportions. Many critics and fans alike assumed Britney was done for and even thought that shouldn’t make through the storm. However, there was light at the end of the road. Britney has recently returned in style by performing in Las Vegas for nearly five years during the 2010s. And while Britney is currently taking a break from her professional career due to family issues and concern regarding her conservatorship, she will always stay in our hearts as the sexy Catholic school girl that matured into a grown woman.

“…Baby One More Time” represented something bigger than a simple song for a new pop artist. This song showcased female freedom. Britney developed a public persona that was part kid-friendly and part pure male fantasy, essentially walking a thin line between family-friendly and shameless sex object. During these modern times, lines are becoming blurred in terms of family-oriented content and R-rated adult material. 

With the worldwide web at our dispoure, it’s becoming easier for children to become easily exposed to mature content. With a touch of the screen, children will be on websites that they know they shouldn’t be on. If people thought an exposed midriff of a sixteen-year-old Spears was controversial, then the nature of music videos are certain to decline.

~Elijah Williams, Staff Writer~


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