Britney Spears

July 22

Poor, poor Britney Spears. With a third album only as deep as its Neptunes-produced hits, a messy breakup with Justin Timberlake and a food-poisoning case at her new NYC restaurant on her hands, this partially deposed pop princess must be longing for the good old days of 2000, when she was sitting on top of a teen-scene gold mine, making the tawny comers vying for her crown look like the high school has-beens she surely gossiped about back in real life. Not that she's close to washing dishes in Manhattan yet: Forbes just put her at the top of its annual Celebrity 100 list, which purports to measure an ineffable amalgam of media profile, Internet presence and cold, hard cash; her ongoing Pepsi campaign suggests she won't want for free soft drinks anytime soon; and though Britney hasn't sold like its two predecessors, enough of us will be at the American Airlines Center on Monday night to convince Spears' people that we haven't quite gotten our fill of what she has to offer. (Plus, she'll make more at the show than the rest of us will all year.) But not-yet-a-woman Britney doesn't capture our imagination the way definitely-a-girl Britney used to; now wild-haired Pink's got everyone talking--and not just for the line on her new one where she decides she's not as pretty as Spears--and the Immaterial Girl's stuck in a bummer of a moment she can't get out of.

 
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