The W Magazine Feature Interview/Article With Britney Spears

Geplaatst op dinsdag 15 juli 2003 @ 12:52 , 8734 keer bekeken

Now that it's past midnight on Friday July 10th, we're going to post to entire W Magazine interview for you all to read. It's really really long but extremely interesting. Enjoy ! Burning Spears She's got competition these days. But with a new look, new album and no Justin Timberlake, pop's princess aims to reclaim her throne. By Robert Haskell. Most of her contemporaries may have traded in their tube tops for corporate uniforms, but Britney Spears is still looking very much like Britney Spears-which, for a woman of 21, is a little alarming. Even with 50 million records sold, Spears should be quaking in her candy pink, jewel-encrusted Skechers right about now. With her ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake riding the success of a hit solo album and touring this summer with Christina Aguilera, teen pop seems to be having a more sophisticated second coming-without her. After a somewhat narrow evolution across three albums-from corruptible schoolgirl to dazed, wholesome Southern stripper, and with a glimmer of something edgier and more expansive on her third effort, Britney-Spears has no choice but to push past the middle ground she sang about in her last hit single, the growing-pains ballad "Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman." But in a quadruplex apartment on Lafayette Street in downtown Manhattan-a dozen flights up from a sea of NYU undergrads, many of whom helped drive the teen-pop phenomenon of the late nineties-Britney Spears is her not-so-old familiar self: the iconic girl-woman, sprightly and almost frighteningly perfect looking (more so in person than on TV), with blooming skin and big, sparkling eyes buried somewhere under a jailbait smear of dark mascara. She's decked out in classic Britney-wear: a dramatically cropped black-and-white striped halter top and, below seven golden inches of midriff, baggy black pants held up by black and pink suspenders. There's an oversize white Patricia Field baseball cap on her head and a long rhinestone pendant hanging from her navel. (She does not, like a few of her rivals for Billboard domination, go in for Fred Leighton bling bling.) Don't be fooled, though: The new Britney is currently being forged at a studio in the Flower District-and that's where Spears has been all day, hard at work on her fourth album. "This whole album has been a huge experiment for me," she says, settling into a lawn chaise on her terrace-then falling right through to the floor as the cushion gives way. "Rental," she notes with a laugh that she's never afraid to direct at herself. "Everyone I'd go work with, they have this perception, this vision of me, and a lot of times I'm like, ugh! It took me a while to figure out the right vibe and find producers who really got me. I'm nervous. I'm excited, but whoa!" Recording artists feel a constant pressure to maintain what the folks at Spears's label, Jive Records, call Q-factor: the burst of commercial heat at the outset of a singer's career. No one has had more Q-factor than Spears, but she seems to understand, young as she is, that pop stars age in dog years and that she'll need some new tricks if she wishes to snatch her crown back from the 18-year-old Canadian anti-Britney, Avril Lavigne. "I f---in' love Avril's stuff," Spears insists. "It f---in' rocks." But she goes on to reveal a touch of competitiveness. "Avril doesn't really dance, but whatever. It's weird. My third album sold as much as her first one, which is very funny to me because everyone thought it didn't do that great." It's clear, in any case, that Spears's new record, which debuts in late October, will either carry her closer to that pop Valhalla whose only current spirit is Madonna, or prove with a decisive stroke that the bubble of bubblegum pop has finally burst. Spears prefers not to overponder her place in the pop pantheon. "It's not that deep," she says, laughing, as she extends her fingernails to a manicurist who has suddenly appeared on the terrace. She is not quite the apple pie she seemed nearly five years ago, and yet there's no specific career gambit-no obscure force other than the force of adolescent development-working to make Spears into a more complex and sophisticated act. Still, the turning point in her career seems all the more noteworthy at a moment when some critics are beginning to wonder whether Madonna has finally lost her edge. "Madonna, over?" Spears shrieks, incredulous. (Heightened emotion tightens the twang in her Louisiana accent.) Then she reflects for a moment. "Honestly, that's why I work so hard-because that's a fear I have for me," she says. She pauses and swills her Red Bull. "There are always gonna be people that don't love you, and actually, I kind of like the people like Madonna, who makes such a statement that people either love her or hate her. I don't want to be in between. I think that's boring." Only the most jaded tabloid reader would be bored by accounts of Spears's life over the past few years. Her two-year relationship with Timberlake was the most famous musical coupling since Kurt and Courtney, and she has clearly been wounded by the breakup and the ensuing media storm. "The most painful thing I've ever experienced was that breakup," she says. "We were together so long and I had this vision. You think you're going to spend the rest of your life together. Where I come from, the woman is the homemaker, and that's how I was brought up-you cook for your kids. But now I realize I need my single time. You have to do your own thing: be self-loving, you know. I know it sounds cliché and cheesy, but I really believe that if it's meant to be, it's meant to be." For a young woman whose avowed virginity has been examined under the media microscope, Spears is surprisingly frank about Timberlake. "I've only slept with one person my whole life," she asserts-shattering the dirty dreams of Humbert Humberts everywhere and veering at long last from the oft-repeated soapbox talk about no sex before marriage. "It was two years into my relationship with Justin, and I thought he was the one." She pauses and her voice leaps an octave. "But I was wrong! I didn't think he was gonna go on Barbara Walters and sell me out." Spears, as every amateur pop-culture critic knows, has mastered a kind of in-your-face sexuality that seems to hedge in the same hot breath. She has worn a nude body stocking onstage and talked about her prayer diary in interviews; she has sung about how she's "not that innocent" while regularly inveighing against premarital sex. "It's an oscillation-that's what she's done so adeptly," says Barry Weiss, president of Jive Records. "Britney's a good girl, but when the mike comes on in the studio, she becomes a vixen. Music literally transforms her. It's a wild thing to watch." That's the erotic charade mounted by most child stars, who peak before they become consenting adults, and then find themselves frozen, as adults, in childhood. "The fun thing about my new album is there was a sneak peek of sexuality on Britney, but on this one I can kind of go there a little more, push the envelope a little bit," she adds, then raises her voice. "But it's not tacky! It's kind of sensually done. I think when things are too much in your face, then there's no subtlety in it." She pauses, backpedaling. "Tacky can be fun, though, sometimes." True enough, but the moment calls for something a bit more cosmopolitan. The photos accompanying this article suggest that it is J.Lo, after all, whom the grown-up Spears may be looking to emulate. "I love J.Lo," she says. "I'm totally inspired by her. The whole put-together thing is usually where I'm a little off, though. I don't like it so contrived. Normally I just do the tight jeans and the little shirt, whatever. But sometimes I want to wear a sequined dress and be a freakin' girl! W is all about seeing yourself in a goddess sense, so I totally wanted to go there." Which isn't to say she's not still Britney. "Honestly, though," she hastens to add, "if everyone thinks I'm gonna come out and be a woman, they're wrong." Along with a heightened glam factor, the new album finds Spears making a more ambitious use of heavyweight producers (or, more accurately, composers). Their role can't be underestimated, and in Spears's case, nearly every big name in the business lobbied for a piece of the pie. She stayed away from the ubiquitous Neptunes-who fashioned her house-inflected hit "I'm a Slave 4 U"-instead giving Redzone, an Atlanta collective, an opportunity with a few thumping dance songs that define the up-tempo feel of the album. Spears is especially pleased with the collaboration: her words, their rhythms. "They're the first people I've ever worked with where it's like I'm listening to it off the radio," she says. "Where I'm, like, yeah! I'm jamming.with myself. And it's weird. I've never done that before." The record is also likely to include tracks by Metro, the English producers responsible for Cher's nightmarishly successful single "Believe," and the Matrix, engineers of Avril Lavigne's biggest hits. P.Diddy and Moby have also weighed in. "The song we did is kind of brooding and atmospheric," Moby writes in an e-mail. "It's very simple and, for lack of a better word, sexy." A far cry, certainly, from the rousing version of Sinéad O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U" that a nine-year-old Spears once offered from the family trampoline in Kentwood, Louisiana (population 2,500). By that age, Spears had proven herself such a determined performer that her mother, Lynne Spears, decided to say goodbye to Kentwood and bring her daughter to New York to attend the Professional Performing Arts School. Within a year Britney had landed a part in an off-Broadway play and won a Star Search competition. Then at age 11 she moved to Orlando, Florida, to join future teen-pop stars Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera on TV's The Mickey Mouse Club. "That was the best childhood experience you could possibly have in your whole life," she says. "I mean, you live in Disney World!" A few years later, the Backstreet Boys and the Spice Girls were saturating the airwaves, and Spears landed a contract. "I would have gone nuts in a classroom," she says. "That wasn't for me. I started homeschooling after the eighth grade, and I didn't experience a real high-school thing. I think, when I went through a little party phase last year, it was because I didn't get a chance in high school to party-to go out and be stupid." Which is a shame, since Spears loves to be goofy. She burps before offering a ladylike "Excuse me," snorts when she laughs, loves to put on silly accents, and says things just because they sound funny to her. "Why do I keep saying 'in the hizzy?'" she asks, giggling. "I don't know what it means. It's like my ghetto form or something." (Fans of Snoop Dogg will know that it's hip-hop slang for "in the house.") "She's 21, and that's what people forget," says her best friend, Jenny Morris, who may sing backup during Spears's next tour. "We joke about it all the time-she always says, 'If they only knew what a big dork I am.' She loves to poke fun at herself. I think she honestly forgets how big her life really is." The media also tend to gloss over Spears's youth when they catalog her barroom escapades: Stories about Britney getting sloshed and dancing on tables have made New York tabloid headlines ever since she began spending more time in the city just over a year ago. She swears the truth is less interesting. "I wish my life were like that!" she says. "Honestly, I would much rather go to Crunch or lie in my tub and look at the bubbles." Really, Britney? "Well, there was one night three weeks ago. I didn't dance on the table-it was the sofa. And everybody was standing up, the whole club was, and I stood up for a few seconds, and so now I'm a wild girl and I stand on tables. Julia Roberts, she did that too! Listen to me, I'm venting. Yes she did-hell, yeah!" It's hard not to believe Spears when she insists the press has embellished her wild side, if only because-these days, at least-she makes so little effort to hide her less demure behavior. "I was never hiding anything," she says, holding up her pink, rhinestone-paved Versace lighter to a cigarette and shrugging when asked why the tabloids made such a fuss recently over her smoking. "It was the people around me that were hiding me. The publicists would call me and they were like, 'Oh, my God. This was in the newspaper.' And I'm like, 'Cool.' I mean, what are you going to do? I think if I sat there and tried to hide it, it would look kind of stupid. Honestly, because I know I'm not supposed to do it, it makes me want to do it." And as for her sex life, Spears has some news that may cause a national outbreak of chest-beating. American boys (and Fred Durst especially) aren't really her thing anymore; Spain and Australia, she says, boast the most alluring and least "fuddy-duddy" men. Oh, and Ireland-via Hollywood. The Colin Farrell rumors were true, she acknowledges: "Yes, I kissed him. Of course I did! He's the cutest, hottest thing in the world-wooh! He's such a bad boy. But it was nothing serious." Since Farrell, her needs have gotten even more basic. "Seriously, I haven't had a boy in a really long time, and I'm really craving.just a kiss, man. Just a kiss would be nice." Just a kiss? Now that the innocent act has supposedly gone the way of glitter makeup and Spears seems rather like the woman she threatened to be at age 17, a sweet little peck sounds almost regressive. Indeed, she has a big chance right now to emulate her professed idol, Madonna, by redefining herself-sharpening the talent, tightening the image and reflecting the emotions of her grown-up fans. It was Madonna, after all, who said Spears had been a victim of the same snobbery with which she was greeted in the eighties-and if Madonna has had the last laugh, so can she. Spears clearly relishes another chance to defy her critics. "If the record's good-if it's hot and you see the video and we're working it, it's basically saying the F-you to everyone out there," she says. "And I think that's cool." Bron:

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