“Just because I look sexy on the cover of Rolling Stone doesn’t mean I’m naughty.” Britney Spears. 

Perhaps the most important performing artist of her generation, Britney Spears is an essential figure in understanding the style of pop that defined the start of this century. Her talent is indisputable; in addition to having a great voice, she’s also a dancer and actress. So far no one has surpassed the level of power and fame that she once had, and her influence within the music industry spurred the turning point that moved us from the groups and bands of the 90s into the golden age of solo women artists of the 21st century. Britney has sold more than 100 million records worldwide and had the most successful tours in history. She’s the pop phenomenon whose had the greatest impact on the industry in past decades. Without her legacy, we couldn’t even imagine the existence of artists like Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, or Rosalía.

Despite her successes, awards, and fame, drama has always been present in her work. Her song “I’m a Slave 4 U” now, twenty years later, takes on new meaning, a much darker and deeper one. It cues us into the tragic situation she has been experiencing for so long. Britney is not only bound to her father, but also to the patriarchal society that has always objectified her and taken her agency over her body, decisions, or money.

Britney Spears has had an effect on several generations over the last 30 years, starting her career on The Mickey Mouse Club in 1992 when she was just 10 years old. It was the beginning of a dream come true for a small-town girl from Mississippi. Then, her career took off when, five years later, she signed with Jive Records and later released her debut album, Baby One More Time (1999), the greatest commercial success ever for solo teen artist. She was only 17 years old.

By the release of her second album (Oops!…I Did It Again), Britney had already become the driving force behind the rebirth of teen pop. After this, she released seven original albums and two compilations, and did movies, cameos, tours, and appearances on television and awards shows.

The problems in her private life came to the surface around 2004, the year her first child was born. From 2001 to 2008 she was the most googled celebrity (except for in 2004), not only because of her fame but also because of the problems afflicting her life. Tabloid covers documented every little thing she did and, in turn, her fall from grace.

Now, thanks to feminist movements and changes in the collective conscience, society’s point of view has changed. We all wonder how this woman survived the torments, trials, and accusations she was put through in the early 2000s.

This year, Framing Britney Spears was released as the sixth episode of The New York Times Presents documentary series. It opened our eyes to the shocking and heartbreaking life of the singer, starting with her early childhood. We were able to appreciate the most iconic and glamorous moments of her career, but also witness the most destructive and painful.

The #freebritney movement began when fans realized that Britney was posting unconventional photos and cryptic comments on social media. They later discovered that she was sending hidden messages to her followers through Instagram. Britney talked about her being trapped, and her fans inferred that she was referring to her legal battle to end the conservatorship that her father, Jamie Spears, exercises over her. Her fans began to march, both to show their support and educate others about the truth of her situation. This issue has not yet been resolved and the trial is ongoing. Britney Spears has not legally controlled her life and assets for the last 13 years, but now we all have an idea of what’s going on. We’ll be keeping close watch, in the hopes that our queen will soon get her life back.

Here is a chronological playlist of Britney’s greatest hits: Britney: Inside Out

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