By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Most observers regard the onslaught of teenage pop sensations like Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync, and Christina Aguilera as proof positive of the cyclical nature of rock music. And like the big teen-idol boom of the early '60s, all this smiling and dancing must mean that a renaissance of new artists like the Beatles, Stones, and Dylan is just around the corner. Right?Wrong.
Given the current climate -- one where normally sane pundits hail the talents of these prepubescent Gorgons -- it seems doubtful that a new generation of rock avatars will ever crop up again. It even leaves us wondering whether artists like The Kinks, The Who, or Jimi Hendrix would have had a chance of making it if this current batch of teen idols had been generating elephant dollars during the Kennedy administration.
That started us thinking: What would've happened if Britney Spears had been born some 35 years earlier, found herself as a member of the original Mickey Mouse Club, and became an up-and-coming pop star in the London of the early '60s?
After the Beatles lose their gig with singer Tony Sheridan, Britney's people (OK, her mom) contact them about backing her at a few supermarket openings. It takes two belly-button piercings and a rumored boob job before the band is noticed and signed to EMI. During the difficult 12-hour session that results in ...Britney...With the Beatles, Spears accidentally spills hot tea on her lap. Her squeals of "Oops!" delight the boys so much that they continue spilling hot tea on her until they get a satisfactory take of "Twist and Shout."
While a desire to feature her trademark "Oops!" in every song is credited with jump-starting Britneymania, some find follow-ups like "Love Me Oops!" and "She Loves You, Oops! Oops! Oops!" completely irritating. London Times music critics blast the band for being as "annoying as Schubert."
The group's first television special gives Britney an excuse to return to her first love -- dancing! The Britney Stomp becomes a national craze, which leads to other British bands frantically playing catch-up. The Jagger Jerk, the Kinda Kink Twist, the Freddie, and the Herman Hitch Hike are all resounding flops. Despite their massive success, Britney and the Beatles part ways on the set of their first motion picture, A Hard Dance Step, when Britney's grueling pace causes Paul's grandfather to keel over and die during one of the elaborately choreographed dance sequences.
A friend of the folk singer since posing with him on the cover of his second album, The Cradlerobbin' Bob Dylan, Britney joins her friend Bob onstage for a controversial appearance at the Newport Folk Festival. Most historians will eventually claim that Dylan was booed for going electric, but the furor actually came with the band's renditions of "Like, I Look So Hot on the Cover of Rolling Stone" and "Britney Spears' 115th Dream" -- which, like the 114 preceding it, involves doing something icky with Justin Timberlake.
Radio stations organize Britney bonfires when the young singer is quoted out of context in a teen magazine. Apparently her comment that "I owe all my wonderful success to my faith in God" angers fundamentalist Christian groups who believe it's blasphemous to blame the Lord for such hits as "Soda Pop" and "Paperback Reader."Britney's big mouth also causes Brian Wilson to go into seclusion and scrap the Beach Boys' forthcoming Pet Sounds album when she hears an early acetate and declares, "How do you expect anyone to dance to this slop?"
Britney replaces Signe Anderson in Jefferson Airplane and brings with her two songs from her latest project, Britney Grape. Unfortunately, numbers like "Dear Diary" and "Oops! I Dropped Acid Again" make the Airplane the laughingstock of Haight-Ashbury.The Smothers Brothers are impressed enough with the group's Materialistic Pillow album to invite them on their controversial variety show. Seeking to win favor with the counterculture, Britney performs "When Your Eyes Say It" with a lump of coal in her navel and the words "Black Power" scrawled on top. It's an empty gesture, since she's filmed from the waist up. Jimi Hendrix appreciates the sentiment and writes "Belly Button Coal Shed" for her.
The Airplane disapproves of Britney's very public relationship with Eric Clapton of Cream. Disraeli Spears is Cream's swan song, and Britney's dominating influence over Clapton is cited in the rock press as the reason for the power trio's breakup. It's hard to dispute since "Mother's Lament" is inexcusably stretched to 12 minutes just because Britney declares, "Oh! My! God! That's my mom's favorite song!"
Twelve people are killed at Altamont Speedway when the Airplane hosts a free concert and hires Nazi sympathizers as security guards. "They looked so clean-cut and blond" was all Spears could offer in her defense.San Francisco law enforcement authorities blame Britney's questionable crowd-control techniques for increasing the body count. When angry knife-wielding goons rush the stage, the last thing they want to hear is, "What do you guys do for fun? I like to shop, watch movies, and go out to eat."
Spears' credibility plummets after appearing in a series of B-movie musicals like The Trouble With Boys, Bikini Beach Bitch, and How to Charge a Million.Things get worse when, for the first time in seven years, Britney fails to win a Grammy for "Best White Performance by a Vocalist or Group." She is incensed when the honor goes to The Fifth Dimension.