For a quarter of a century now, Britney Spears has been one of the most famous people in the world. From the moment she broke onto the music scene as a teenager with her single “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” she has been a reliable hitmaker. She’s made history and proved her talent and worth as a pop star, but nothing lasts forever. Now, several recent events may suggest that the power of her brand is waning.
In July, Spears returned after a musical hiatus with a new single, “Mind Your Business,” a collaboration with Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.I.Am. The two have worked together a number of times in the past, and they have found great success with one another before. Many expected the new electronic tune to be both great and a success, but neither turned out to be true.
After it debuted, the masses seemingly didn’t take to “Mind Your Business.” The song did reach a handful of Billboard charts, but not the Hot 100, which is the most important of the bunch. The cut missed that ranking entirely, and after one frame on several genre-specific tallies, it was gone. Now, it seems that the world has moved on entirely from the title, and it may be dead already. That’s very surprising for two stars as big as Will.I.Am and Spears.
The failure of “Mind Your Business” shows that even though she may still be an incredibly famous person, even Spears can slip. But every pop star releases music that doesn’t take, and one bad cut doesn’t necessarily mean much. That said, a trend appears to be forming, one that sees things attached to her name not faring as many had hoped or nearly as well as they may have in the past.
Just a few weeks after “Mind Your Business” came and went, Spears’s brand took another hit. Once Upon a One More Time, a jukebox musical based around the singer’s catalog, recently announced that it is closing. The production, which uses many of her biggest hits to tell a new story focusing on girl power and familiar princesses, opened on Broadway in June. Now, it’s set to close in early September, less than three months after it officially premiered.
Those behind the musical surely thought that now that Spears’s die-hard fans are a bit older, they have the money to pay for Broadway tickets. These are the people who grew up with her music, and many love her more than younger audiences. So, it made sense that they might pay up to enjoy those songs, as jukebox musicals can be very successful on the Great White Way.
The fact that Once Upon a One More Time didn’t work—critically, but more importantly, commercially—can be attributed to a number of factors, and a lot can be said about why shows take off or flounder. Perhaps most important among the likely culprits is that Spears’s brand simply isn’t as powerful as it once was.
There was a time years ago when it seemed like anything Spears touched turned to gold. Her songs all became hits, her tours sold out and her albums went multi-platinum. She extended her brand to business ventures, including perfume, upending an entire industry.
Of course, she didn’t always succeed, as some brand partnerships didn’t take and her acting career didn’t take off. But for the most part, her brand was strong enough to withstand any failures and keep going. Now, the question is whether that strength will hold. After a failed single and a musical based around her fame severely underperformed, will this bad luck continue for whatever she has coming next?