When Britney Spears crashed and burned, we wrote her off as another child star crushed by the weight of celebrity. But then a funny thing happened: Britney fought back, bitch. By all accounts, she has regained control of her life and career. Now she's returning to Miami for the second time on the same tour of her awesomely kitschy extravaganza "Circus." Spears has orchestrated — or allowed some very smart people to orchestrate — the greatest comeback of recent memory. As a refresher, here's a timeline of key events that shaped her widely documented downfall and Rocky-esque rise back to the top of the pop world.
Oops!... I didn't wear them again!: Husband Kevin Federline gets dropped — as do all motherly responsibilities and instincts. Brit hits the club scene with supertramp Paris Hilton in late 2006. By November, disgustingly graphic Spears crotch shots surface on gossip sites around the globe. Millions of men begin second-guessing their near-decade-long crush on the erstwhile Lolita.
Bald, my prerogative: Following a mere 24-hour rehab stay in Antigua on February 16, 2007, Spears enters a hair salon in Tarzana, California, seizes a set of electric clippers, and shaves her head — completely. What's scarier than Spears being as bald as Patrick Stewart? The maniacal look of glee in her eyes as she hacks off those dyed-dark locks! It's back to rehab for Brit, who has now officially been stripped of hottie status.
Hit that photographer's car one more time!: Just when we thought she couldn't fall any farther down the rabbit hole, chrome-domed (with stubble) Spears gives a photographer's car a nasty beatdown with an umbrella. Which is kooky but not as disturbing as the whack-job pic and those wild, wild eyes seen around the world.
Do somethin' (no, really, do somethin'!): Everyone knows Spears does very little actual singing during live performances. But even at this point, audiences still expect her to bust out some awesomely raunchy dance moves and at least lip-sync in, well, sync at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards show in September. Instead, a possibly Xanax-filled Spears appears to perform a Saturday Night Live-style parody of herself. The chubby criticism dished out afterward is bullshit — really, she looked fine — but her stoned expression and inability to, y'know, move, warrants serious backlash. The entertainer's freshly minted album, Blackout, subsequently bricks.
Toxic mom: On a bender of epic proportions (we're taking an educated guess, folks), Spears refuses to turn over her children to Federline's representatives on January 3, 2008, and hunkers down with her young son in a locked bathroom. She's removed from her mansion on a gurney, looking scarily insane. Spears loses all visitation rights with her children.
Gimme more Moonmen: Spears wisely skips the whole singing (lip-syncing) thing at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards on September 7 but still picks up a couple of Moonmen for her "Piece of Me" video. More important, she appears sane — and sexy!
Revitalizer: Spears looks stunning in the video for her catchy new ditty, "Womanizer," and finally regains hottie status. Millions of men remember why they began lusting after her a decade ago and rub one out for old time's sake.
Circus star: Spears' album Circus drops December 2, 2008, and shoots to number one on the Billboard 200. She appears the following week on the cover of Rolling Stone looking like a killer MILF — and even hotter in the pictorial inside. Circus produces a slew of hit singles, including the title track, "Womanizer," "If U Seek Amy," "Kill the Lights," and "Shattered Glass."
"The Circus Starring Britney Spears" tour kicked off March 3 in New Orleans and has proceeded without much of a hitch. Well, unless you count the hilarious March wardrobe malfunction outburst in Tampa. Come on, all together now: "My pussy was hanging out!" God, do we love Britney.