Glory be! Britney Spears dropped her ninth studio album, Glory, Friday, August 26, the morning after her viral Carpool Karaoke session with James Corden debuted and nearly a decade after her highly publicized head-shaving breakdown.
Since that fateful night of February 16, 2007, at Esther’s Haircutting Studio in Tarzana, California, the undisputed Princess of Pop has made huge strides both personally and professionally to rightfully reclaim her throne. In case you forgot how Spears made it back on top, allow Us to recap her epic comeback.
The same month of her buzz cut seen round the world, Spears, then 25 — who was reportedly battling addiction and an undisclosed mental illness at the time — checked into and out of rehab before attacking a paparazzo’s car with an umbrella following a visit to now-ex-husband Kevin Federline’s home.
Regardless of her personal issues, the singer, now 34, recorded her critically acclaimed album, Blackout, and performed its lead single, “Gimme More,” at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards. Despite excitement from the Britney Army to see their favorite artist slay the stage once more, the entertainer failed to deliver and was criticized for her lack of enthusiasm and disoriented look.
Spears — who had since lost primary custody of her sons Sean Preston, now 10, and Jayden James, now 9 — hit her breaking point in January 2008 when she reportedly refused to turn over her children to Federline, their father. After the boys were taken from the Grammy winner, she was hospitalized on a 51/50 psychiatric hold, which set the stage for her road to recovery.
Cut to September 7, 2008: Spears had risen from the ashes like a tanned blonde phoenix, opening the VMAs again for the second time in a row. Though she didn’t perform, she introduced the show looking flawless, happy and confident in a sparkling silver gown. At the end of the night, the chart-topper took home three Moonmen for her “Piece of Me” music video, an autobiographical visual that illustrated the complicated relationship she’d had with the paparazzi in recent years. It won the awards for Best Female Video, Best Pop Video and Video of the Year.
Not even a year after her hospitalization, Spears, who had since entered a conservatorship under the guidance of her father, Jamie Spears, regained visitation rights of her kids — she currently shares 50/50 custody with K-Fed — and released her sixth album, Circus, on her 27th birthday, December 2, 2008.
The LP — as well as its first single, “Womanizer” — shot straight to No. 1. In 2009, she embarked on The Circus Starring Britney Spears tour, an elaborate spectacle complete with Spears staples: killer choreography and flashy, skin-baring costumes — not to mention arenas full of fans thrilled to see the superstar doing what she was born to do.
Nearly three years after revitalizing her career, Spears released her hit-laden seventh album, Femme Fatale, which spawned another successful international tour.
In 2012, she took a break from recording and touring to become a judge on season 2 of Fox’s The X Factor alongside Demi Lovato, music exec L.A. Reid and the show’s creator, Simon Cowell. Her stint on the singing competition lasted only one season. “I had an incredible time doing the show, and I love the other judges,” the music magnate said of her departure. “But it’s time for me to get back in the studio.”
In December 2013, Spears made good on her promise and treated fans to Britney Jean, her eighth album, which she described as her “most personal yet.” Weeks later, the diva began her Britney: Piece of Me Las Vegas residency at the Axis at Planet Hollywood. The concert, which includes the “Toxic” songstress’ greatest hits, has been touted as the “best show in Las Vegas” by The Las Vegas Sun — and has inspired other pop contemporaries such as Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez to give Sin City a go with their own residencies.
In between electrifying sold-out crowds night after night on the Strip, the sex symbol — whose enviable physique has long been celebrated since she was introduced to the world as a naughty-but-nice school uniform–clad teen in 1998 — launched a lingerie line called Intimate Britney Spears in 2014.
After trying her hand at fashion, she jumped back into the recording studio to collaborate with Iggy Azalea on their joint single, “Pretty Girls,” which was released in May 2015. Although the duo filmed an accompanying ’80s-inspired music video and performed the track at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards, the song didn’t chart well in comparison to Spears’ catalog of radio hits.
Even though “Pretty Girls” failed to capture audiences, the pop icon made a triumphant return to the BBMAs in May 2016 when she lit up the stage with a medley of some of her most beloved tunes, including a few deep cuts from her 2003 album, In the Zone. That same night, Spears was presented with the Millennium Award, a prestigious honor which had previously been given to artists such as Beyoncé and the late Whitney Houston.
On the heels of her galvanizing gig at the Billboard Music Awards — and after months of teasing a new album — Spears finally dropped Glory’s lead single, “Make Me …,” a sensual mid-tempo jam assisted by rapper G-Eazy, in July. She released its music video on August 5 following a frustrating round of delays. The original video, which was directed by David LaChapelle, was reportedly too NSFW for Spears’ taste. So she reshot a tamer clip — still inclusive of barely there ensembles and hunky, shirtless men — this time directed by Randee St. Nicholas.
While some fans were disappointed that the first video never made its official debut, Spears probably couldn’t care less. After years of highs and lows, she is no longer concerned with what others think.
“Whoever is in the spotlight, people are really quick to judge. I mean, there are a lot of kids coming up who’ve experienced that,” she told V magazine for its March 2016 cover story. “It’s just the way the world works, unfortunately. I’ve been doing this for 20 years. I kind of don’t pay attention to it. I have my relationship with God and myself, and that’s what matters to me. I really don’t care what most people think.”
And why should she? Especially when she’s basking in all her Glory.