Pop stars aren’t born, they’re made. It’s a process conceived by labels when they find someone very young, talented and mailable. It’s definitely not a quick add water and stir recipe. You can track the career of Britney Spears and see how the process unfolds.images

Britney started dancing and singing at a very young age in her hometown of Kentwood Louisiana. She was a great gymnast and won countless awards. At the young age of eight, she auditioned for the Mickey Mouse Club and was turned down because of her age. This led her to performing in an off-Broadway show “Ruthless”for a 2 year run in the leading role. At age 11 she again auditioned for the Mickey Mouse Club and this time made it as a Mousekateer along Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling. In the late 90’s she was signed as a Jive Recording artist. With the release of her debut album, “Baby One more Time,” in 1999, she became an international success selling more than 19 million copies of “Baby.”She was 16 years old.

What most people don’t know or understand is that even at such a young age, Britney had great instincts about her brand and what her fans would connect with. The initial idea of the video for ‘Baby”by director Nigel Dick, was that Spears would appear as a cartoon superhero. Britney had other ideas. She wanted the video to represent the feeling of kids who are bored in school just waiting for that bell to ring. She wanted the fun free spirit of that moment to be captured. It was her idea to tie her shirt up revealing her midriff. A move that would give the video a provocative edge that would jump-start her to super-stardom. Sheer instinct and brilliance on Spears part to know how to capture her audience and hypnotize them, by the millions.

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Since that brilliant move there have been countless wanna be pop starlets mimicking the naughty school girl concept, but it just falls flat if you aren’t sixteen, innocent, and singing undeniable songs for your generation. Britney did it first with Baby and all others are faint copies at best.

Another important piece of the puzzle is the song choices for Spears. She definitely had input on that front as well. “Baby” was originally written for pop group TLC but was rejected by the group. As soon as Spears heard the tunes she was excited and thought it could be a hit. Singles that became hits for Spears were undeniable. As soon as you heard them you were hooked, with the melody of the tune firmly entrenched in your brain whether you liked it or not. However, you don’t have to be a fan of pop music to appreciate a great song. If a song is undeniable, it will work no matter how you perform it. “Baby” can be recorded solo with an acoustic guitar and still hold up as a great song. Ed Sheeran performed on Taylor Swifts “Red” Tour recently. He is one in a long line of artists who have covered Baby acoustically.

Five singles came from that album and it was certified as fourteen times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. Britney is the product, the industry is the machine. Britney’s ‘team’ is a large group of machinists. the machinists are far spanning, ranging from management, to label executives, producers, wardrobe stylists, personal trainers, assistants, choreographers, dancers, tax accountants,it’s a well oiled machine that has never stopped. Even when Britney was in the throes of a breakdown, it was all captured on film. All the Gorey details have been documented  for the world to see. That was no accident. Some say she is making a comeback, but did she ever really leave?I bet most people can remember some part of her decline into alcohol and drug abuse and her bizarre antics along the way. Sad, and difficult to watch someone so young suffer under the scrutiny of the public eye. Rolling Stone summed it up very well and also documented her recordings after Baby.

“One of the most controversial and successful female vocalists of the 2000s, Britney Spears (along with the Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync) spearheaded the rise of post-millennial teen pop. She then spearheaded what looked like her own demise, with her questionable parenting, substance abuse and generally bizarre behavior becoming constant tabloid fodder. But as the 2000s closed, Spears seemed to have righted her ship and still held much of her popular appeal.

Baby One More Time,” paired a vaguely S&M lyric (the ellipse follows the words “Hit me”) with a fluffy, Europop-style big beat, and a video in which the singer paraded around in a Catholic schoolgirl outfit. Released in late 1998, it went to Number One, and the album of the same name, issued in January 1999, followed suit, debuting in the top spot. . . . Baby One More Time delivered further hits in “Sometimes” (Number 21, 1999), “(You Drive Me) Crazy” (Number 10, 1999) and “From the Bottom of My Broken Heart” (Number 14, 2000).

Wasting little time, Spears, who was born December 2nd, 1981 in McComb, Mississippi, and her producers and writers — a team that included Swedish hitmaker Max Martin — returned in 2000 with Oops! . . . I Did It Again (Number One, 2000), whose title smash (Number Nine, 2000) made the titillation of her debut even more explicit, with a the chorus that insisted, “I’m not that innocent.” Further hits from Oops included “Lucky” (Number 23, 2000) and “Stronger” (Number 11, 2000).

Spears’ third album, Britney (Number One, 2001), delivered smaller hits, this time emphasizing raunchiness without coyness, particularly on the Neptunes-produced “I’m a Slave 4 U” (Number 27, 2001), featuring a greased-up Spears moving in a more bluntly sexual direction than ever — a maneuver made even more bold-faced when Spears French-kissed Madonna during a performance on the MTV Video Music Awards in September 2003. (At the same event two years before she writhed with an albino python.) Britney was also a maturity move on the artist’s part: she helped write five of its songs and issued the image-conscious “Overprotected” as a single (Number 86, 2002). In 2002, Spears hit the big screen in Crossroads, a movie that was panned by critics but still drew her fans to theaters.

In November 2003, Spears released her fourth album, In the Zone (Number One), whose first single, “Me Against the Music,” featured a cameo by the woman she’d famously kissed on TV. Despite Spears’ and Madonna’s combined star power, the song only got to Number 35. Spears fared better with ballad “Everytime” (Number 15, 2004) and especially “Toxic” (Number 9, 2004), which won a Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording and spawned cover versions by rock bands. The album featured a mix of producers, including Moby, Bloodshy and Avant, R. Kelly and the Matrix. Spears capped her early career with Greatest Hits: My Prerogative (Number Four, 2004), featuring a defensive-sounding cover of the Bobby Brown hit; she next released the time-buying B in the Mix: The Remixes (Number 134, 2005) while pondering her next move.”

Every detail of Britney’s life has been picked apart from who she was dating to what she was drinking, to her weight, clothing, who she was working with…every move she made was news. It still is today.

One of my favorite Spears moments is her performance on Letterman doing “I’m a Slave 4 U” Her private dance for Dave got the late show host blushing and caused quite a stir. Ha, brilliant.

Britney’s branding has been brilliant from the start and her team created a recurring image that led to a video with a powerful theme, that led into an album that is still one of the best-selling records of all time. Britney led the millennial pop music movement of the 90’s. She started the video dance craze, and image was always of the utmost importance. Carefully crafted for each single and video, which then led to an album and world tour. Even attention to hair color and attitude was always of the utmost importance. The Machinists were never at rest working in shifts to keep the wheels turning. There has always been an innocent and not so innocent allure to Brittney, the girl next door who just wanted to sing and dance. She represented her generation and has always been the brains behind the magic. She has had a say in every move of her career. And make no mistake about she is hailed as a super hard-working artist. Marc Corliss, Spear’s personal trainer, states that she is “training like an athlete.”

“Corliss says that Britney has been working out on a regular basis and that she is one of his best clients because “she does everything he tells her to do and works out on her own.”  Corliss said Britney Spears is doing interval training, sprinting, and weight training.  He says she is upbeat and fun to coach.  He says she is already in good shape and has a good work ethic due to her dance background.  Corliss says that she is well on her way to getting those rock hard abs back again.”

Britney is also once again working with a vocal coach and choreographer for her “comeback.”Werk+Bitch+Kachestvo

The Guardian reports,

“Back in July, 31-year-old pop veteran Britney Spears tweeted that her forthcoming eighth album would be her most personal album ever”. News then started circulating that she was working with William Orbit, the producer responsible for relaunching Madonna’s career with the deeply personal Ray Of Light album. This was then followed by tweets from singer-songwriter Sia about a “beautiful and heartbreaking” ballad the pair had recorded. So it was a bit of a surprise to learn that the first single to emerge from the album would be a will.i.am collaboration called Work Bitch (it’s original title was rumoured to be the more Miley-friendly, Werk Bitch). Originally due to premiere on US radio later today, the song leaked over the weekend and has now been plonked on YouTube. As with last year’s collaboration with will.i.am, Scream & Shout, Work Bitch feels slightly like a cluster of phrases and bits of melody hunting for a song to attach themselves to, although the overall result is much more appealing. Over a thundering electronic riff and a relentless jackhammer beat, Britney lists various things you’ll need to work quite hard in order to achieve: “You wanna live fancy, live in a big mansion, party in France? You better work bitch.”

Spears has sold over a hundred million albums and has a net worth of 200 million dollars to date. Spears is hardly a one hit wonder. Her second album, “Oops, I did it Again”released in May of 2000 debuted at number one in the Us and sold 1.3 million copies. The album sold 25 million copies worldwide to date making it one of the best-selling albums of all time. The Oops Tour grossed 45 million dollars.

Celebrating it’s 15Th anniversary this year it’s interesting to read some liile known facts about Baby .

Britney was the perfect rags to riches story that every young girl wanted to dream about and pray could come true. Not to mention all the up and coming independent artists hoping that this scenario can be replicated, which is part of miss Spears undying allure. The girl next door from Louisiana becomes a an international pop star, so maybe I can to. So many musicians out there who claim they wouldn’t have anything to do with a machine driven pop career but secretly hope that lightening will strike and they will have the fame and fortune like Spears. Yes, there is and has always been a well oiled machine behind Spears, but make no mistake about it, she started very young, was crazy driven, smart and had great instincts about how to build her career. She gave up her childhood for all the vocal and dance lessons, all the auditions and endless hours sweating through her gymnastics coaching and paid a heavy personal price for all her fame and riches. The Britney that the world knows started with a young child who gave up everything to follow her dream. Her success didn’t fall from the sky, she worked sacrificed and paid a heavy personal price. Most artists give up long before the really hard work begins. Are you willing to work in the dance studio 5 hours a day rehearsing before your weight training and aerobic workout?That’s routine for Britney and has been for years. Her down time consists of a run or vocal coaching and a protein smoothie to get through the day. Love her or hate her, you have to give Britney her due. She hasn’t gone anywhere and there will never be another quite like her. So…what is your schedule every day?

5 Responses to The Making of A Pop Star

  1. Great article! I think people underestimate the work ethic of some of these huge artists.

    • Ghezzi says:

      Hey Thanks! It does take years of really hard work. Being consistent and constantly working is the part that gets lost on most artists. You guys are on the right track. Don’t let up!

  2. Nikki G says:

    I love this article. The person watching a Britney video could easily put her down. But in reality, and in Britney’s defense, this is the toughest businesses. I always tell my artists that its the 1% of the 99 that actually can handle this business because they are the ones that suffer through the hard times, the ups and downs, the challenges they thought they would never get through, and they are continuously going through those hurdles. So they hate all they want, but she is playing the game and playing it well. Great post!

  3. jamie leger says:

    another great article about what it really takes to be a success in ANY industry, especially the music industry.

    I might add though, it seems that there are only more hurdles and things aren’t getting any easier in the new economy.

    Every move counts, and if you aren’t playing to win, you don’t have a chance. If you want it-you gotta hustle.

    Cheers,

    Jamie

    • Ghezzi says:

      Thanks Jamie:-)It is true that it’s the wild wild west out there, but on the flip side, more opportunities are open to independent artists than ever before. Opportunities that use to be “reserved” for major label artists are now being grabbed by Indie Artists and that’s a change for the better!

      However, you are right, survival of the fittest, you gotta hustle.

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