As recently as a year ago, most people expected Britney Spears to ultimately wind up the target of a massive, overly televised police car chase that would end with her driving her SUV off some overpass, Thelma & Louise style.
Or at least something equally dramatic.
The quickie marriage and annulment, the second quickie marriage and subsequent divorce, the child custody high jinks, the crotch shots, the other crotch shots, the shaved head—she was suffering, we now know, a literal mental breakdown on camera.
Today, this all seems like a bad memory, thanks to the intervention of Daddy Spears. And now Britney the Pop Princess has returned from worse than death—kinda like Christ and Spock! To commemorate her impressive feat, we take a look back at some of the other greatest career resurrections in music history...
Elvis Presley, 1968
After years of steady career decline, Presley returned to the limelight with a hit television special referred to today as the '68 Comeback Special. This is because, without it, Presley would've died as the punch line to a bad joke. Instead, he OD'd on a toilet and will be hailed in perpetuity as the King of Rock 'n' Roll.
Johnny Cash, 1994
By the '90s, Cash's hard living had cost him a viable career. Then along came producing legend Rick Rubin, who helped him record a bare-bones collection of originals and, more fascinating, covers of songs by the likes of Danzig and Leonard Cohen. Cash won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album, saw his celebrity return and even had a biopic, Walk the Line, made about his life.
Tina Turner, 1984
After divorcing violent hubby Ike Turner in the '70s, Turner struggled to return to her former success as a rock star. That is, until 1984 when "What's Love Got to Do With It" was dropped on radio stations that had long ago dismissed her. The song skyrocketed to the top slot on the Billboard Hot 100, giving the 44-year-old singer her first No. 1 single and, to date, her biggest hit.
AC/DC had released six studio albums when lead singer Bon Scott died of, let's say, complications from a night of heavy drinking. Fans fully expected the remaining members of the band to throw in the towel, but five months later they returned to the studio with a new lead singer, Brian Johnson, and recorded Back in Black—believed by some number-crunchers to be the second-best-selling album of all time, with a staggering 42 million copies sold.
Meat Loaf, 1993
Released in 1977, Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell sold almost 40 million copies. Then came the obligatory drug addiction. And then the man who was born in Dallas as Marvin Lee Aday lost his voice while recording a follow-up. His later albums disappointed even more profoundly. But nobody could've expected the guy would return to his former glory when, in 1993, he released Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell, which sold more than 15 million copies and scored him the Best Rock Vocal Performance Grammy the following year.