In 1999, Britney Spears burst onto the music scene with her wildly successful hit, “Baby One More Time.”
The former Mickey Mouse Club star strolled into the spotlight, shyly introducing herself as one of us: An innocent girl, learning lessons in life and love, while documenting her trials and tribulations through songs ripe with catchy beats and addictive hooks.
Fans and critics alike were intrigued by her appeal, as she matched her songs with amazing dance moves and a sexy, bare midriff.
Controversy stirred, as Britney was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in a very “Lolita-ish” spread that portrayed Britney was anything but innocent.
Playing on this, Britney coyishly worked a chorus of “I’m not that innocent” into her hit, “Oops, I Did It Again.”
What followed was the evolution of her hugely successful career.
She remains successful to this day, performing weekly in her "Piece of Me" show at her residency at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.
There is no denying her unique approach and style all contributed to her overall success, but would Britney’s approach work today to climb the ranks of pop superstardom?
In the 90s and early 2000s, Britney was seen as an icon of her time, someone who was daring, sexy and fun with her music and her style.
She effortlessly brought to pop music what others could not.
In 2015, her moves would not be seen as very daring.
We have been there, done that; the slew of copycat Disney teen stars turned vixens came steadily after.
Britney took her cues from Madonna, another woman in the music industry who has proven her success and kept her music and style relevant across the span of decades.
What can we learn from these women? Like Madonna, Britney had her fair share of drama that kept her in the public eye.
Take the Britney versus Christina feud, for instance.
Now, whether it was real or imagined, it definitely existed for fans.
One could argue Christina Aguilera is considerably more talented than Britney when strictly measuring singing abilities.
But Christina lacked the presentation Britney brought to the stage. While successful in her own right, Christina never retained the crown of pop princess.
Why was this?
Pop stars in the 90s relied more on their appearances to sell themselves. Sex sells, and they had to portray a certain image to be successful.
The popular reality show, “The Voice” judges singers on their abilities, not their appearance, proving that times are changing and we are not as superficial as we once were.
Singers were once told if they did not fit a certain mold, whether it was age, style, appearance, etc., they would never make it in the music industry.
In 2015, we have a changed perspective and appreciation for the definition of sexy and beautiful. As a society overall, we are more accepting of all people, and while definitely a work-in-progress, we are more open.
Girls growing up today know they don’t have to have blonde hair and blue eyes or be a size 0 to have hopes of being a successful pop star; the sky is the limit.
In 2015, Taylor Swift and Adele are both amazing, talented performers who have seen wild success in their careers.
Taylor’s uncanny ability to span across genres of music to cater to her fans has earned her unsurpassed international superstardom.
Taking calculated risks has paid off immensely for Taylor Swift.
After previously releasing music solely in the country genre, she slowly began her crossover to mainstream pop with include hits like “I Knew You Were Trouble."
Last year’s breakout album full of pop hits, 1989, proved Taylor can literally pull off anything she sets her mind to.
So what's her secret?
Taylor has alluded her success to trusting her creative intuition, and her constant interest in educating herself about changing times and trends.
They affect her musical creations along with her personal experiences (something she is also famous for).
Adele similarly seems to present her music in a real, raw format, singing about experiences and people who have affected her and her life in the deepest, most emotional sense.
Show of hands: Who hasn't cried along to “Someone Like You” or “Hello?"
It seems it's no mistake that both of these ladies’ feelings and emotions that flow directly into their music are a huge part of their success.
They appeal to us because they seem like the friends and girls next door we'd love.
So what have we learned?
Becoming a successful pop star requires a few key elements that are timeless: obviously singing ability, strong stage presence and most importantly, having an idea of what people are feeling, thinking and are most interested in.
When fans hear their favorite artists sing, they hear their struggles, their joys and their pain. They can relate to it.
Singers are truly authors that use their voices and melodies to tell their stories.
Talented musicians are a dime a dozen. Those who set themselves apart must not be afraid to be unique and push the envelope.
Britney (and Madonna, before her), Taylor and Adele have proven they are talented, adept storytellers who know that musical talent means nothing if you cannot truly connect with fans.