Britney Spears has been one of the most successful— and sometimes controversial— solo acts in popular music. Spears is regarded a pop icon and is credited with influencing the revival of teen pop during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Spears has topped the list of most searched celebrities seven times in 12 years, a record since the inception of the internet.

When she was 8 years old, she auditioned for a spot on the Disney Channel’s “The New Mickey Mouse Club.” Spears did not get the part, but she did eventually achieve one childhood dream: showcasing her vocal talents on the popular entertainment competition “Star Search” in 1992. Spears tried again for “The New Mickey Mouse Club” when she was 11. This time, she was picked for the cast, which also featured other up-and-coming talents such as Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and actress Keri Russell. Spears appeared on the children’s variety show for two seasons.

After its cancellation, Spears focused on developing her musical career. She eventually landed a contract with Jive Records. In December 1998, Spears released her first single, “…Baby One More Time.” The catchy pop tune reached the top of the pop charts at the end of January 1999, propelled in part by its music video.

The entire “…Baby One More Time” album hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 charts that same year and went on to sell more than 22 million copies worldwide. At the 1999 Billboard Music Awards, Spears picked up three awards Female Album Artist of the Year, Female Artist of the Year and Best New Artist of the Year.She was part of a teenage pop music wave, which included fellow Mickey Mouse Club alumni Christina Aguilera and Jessica Simpson.

Building upon her meteoric rise, Spears released Oops! I Did It Again in 2000. The recording was an instant No. 1 hit on the album charts, selling more than 1 million copies in the first week.

With 2001’s Britney, Spears made the first move toward shedding her virginal image, while also taking her sound in a different direction. Performing “I’m a Slave 4 U” at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards, Spears made heads turn by dancing with a seven-foot albino python around her neck and wearing a barely-there costume.

Around this same time, Spears took a leading role in the feature film “Crossroads.” The coming-of-age drama received a drubbing from critics after its February 2002 release, but it ended up netting more than $37 million at the box office.

Spears’ next album, In the Zone, included an appearance by Madonna on the “Me Against the Music” track. The recording’s top single, “Toxic,” earned Spears her first Grammy Award win for Best Dance Recording.

She then released Greatest Hits: My Prerogative. Spears covered the Bobby Brown hit “My Prerogative,” which seemed to be her way of talking back to her critics and lashing out about the media frenzy that continually surrounded her. The recording sold 5 million copies, a million less than In the Zone. Spears moved forward by creating another album and released the single, “Gimme More.” She received a warm reception from the public and critics. Its album, Blackout, reached the second slot on the Billboard charts.

Spears returned to the spotlight with a well-received guest appearance on the popular sitcom “How I Met Your Mother.” She released her next recording Circus, which instantly hit the top of the album charts, buoyed in part by the success of her single “Womanizer,” which was released two months earlier. The song had reached the No. 1 spot, proving that Spears was still a powerful force in the world of pop music. Rolling Stone critic Caryn Ganz heralded the recording as “clubby, adventurous pop.” And her fans agreed, sending the singles “Piece of Me” and “Circus” into the pop top 20 and top 10, respectively.

Spears proved that she can still make powerful pop music in 2011 with Femme Fatale, which featured such hits as “I Wanna Go” and “Till The World Ends.” The recording climbed to the top of the charts, becoming her sixth No. 1 album. In addition to all of this commercial success, Spears seemed happier in her personal life. She and boyfriend Jason Trawick got engaged in December of 2011.

In 2012, Spears took on a new challenge. She has joined the judges’ panel for the popular singing-competition show “The X Factor” in its second season and embraced the role of being a critic of the work of others. Actress-singer Demi Lovato and music mogul L.A. Reid are the other two “X Factor” judges.

It was first revealed that Spears was working on her eighth studio album in December 2012. Spears also recorded the song “Ooh La La” for the soundtrack of The Smurfs 2 in early 2013 and came out with “Work Bitch” shortly after.