I read this book for er… research?
Well, I am in the music industry.
But for real, I grew up in the MTV TRL era when Britney Spears was blowing up. And I’m sticking with my plan to read for pleasure (instead of for research).
So, I read Britney’s book. I’m glad I did.
It’s authentic and revelatory. Many of the personal stories have been recapped and recounted elsewhere. I’ll focus more on the key takeaways and music industry nuggets.
The Women In Me
By Britney Spears
Britney loved performing
Throughout her tumultuous career, one thing remains clear: Britney is happiest when she’s singing (or later in her life, with her kids). She starts the book by saying as much.
“Singing is magic. When I sing, I own who I am. I can communicate purely. When you sing you stop using the language of ‘Hi, how are you…’ You’re able to say things that are much more profound. Singing takes me to a mystical place where language doesn’t matter anymore, where anything is possible.”
Circle of Stars
It’s small at the top. It was surprising – not shocking – at all the celebrities that are part of Britney’s story from an early age. When she auditioned for The Mickey Mouse Club, she came across Keri Russell, Christina Aguilera, Nikki DeLoach, Ryan Gosling, Tony Lucca, of course Justin Timberlake. She met others at a young age like Natalie Portman.
Table Goes Up in Flame
Britney was signed to Jive Records when she was just fifteen. She had a dinner with star producer Max Martin at an expensive New York restaurant. A candle flipped over and the whole table caught fire.
The night before she recorded “Baby One More Time” (produced by Martin) she was listening to “Tainted Love.” She liked that gravely sounding voice, and she emulated it when recording her own pop hit.
Britney started method acting during Crossroads, and it was very difficult for her to break character. It became a psychological roller coaster for her.
“Living that way, being half yourself and half fictional character, is messed up. After a while you don’t know what’s real anymore.”
She regrets not seizing the opportunity to act in Chicago.
Working with Madonna
She writes positively about Madonna, and how the music legend demanded power.
“During our shoot together, I was in awe of the ways Madonna would not comprise her vision. She kept the focus on her. Going along with Madonna’s ideas and being on her time for days was what it meant to collaborate with her. It was an important lesson for me, one that would take a long time for me to absorb: she demanded power, and so she got power.”
Britney looked aghast at how her then husband Kevin Federline handled fame. And it didn’t go well.
She thinks Jennifer Lopez is an example of someone who handled it well.
“In the beginning – those first two years when you become a celebrity – well, it’s a felling you can’t explain. I think some people are great at fame…But fame? The world isn’t real, my friends. It’s. Not. Real. You go along with it because of course it’s going to pay the family’s bills and everything. But for me, there was an essence of real life missing from it. I think that’s why I had my babies.”
Britney had a difficult upbringing with an alcoholic father. She had a tumultuous relationship with Justin Timberlake (and others). Worth reading the book to learn more, but I won’t go into these details here.
She runs through how her father set up a conservatorship, and why she was so disappointed that this happened. When her father created it, he told her: “I’m Britney Spears now.”
She didn’t know she could get her own lawyer for 13 years. She finally got a lawyer who worked with her to help her gain freedom. She credits her fans and those in the #FreeBritney movement for helping her.
She prefers New York dancers instead of LA ones because NY-ers have “more heart.”
NSYNC was more black friendly. They would hang with black musicians. They were more black friendly whereas Back Street Boys who tried to be positioned as the white group.
Dolly Parton’s joke: “I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb. And I also know that I’m not a blonde.”