Read down below the full interview for V Magazine issue n°100 and check out the HQ photos in our gallery.
THE STAR WHO DEFINED A GENERATION IS STILL IN THE CENTER OF THE RING THANKS TO HER BLOCKBUSTER LAS VEGAS EXTRAVAGANZA. AS SHE PUTS THE FINISHING TOUCHES ON HER NINTH STUDIO ALBUM AND REVAMPS HER STAGE SHOW, POP’S REIGNING FEMME FATALE REUNITES WITH JOHN NORRIS TO EXPLAIN HOW TAKING CONTROL OF HER WORK GAVE HER THE FREEDOM TO LIVE LIFE ON HER TERMS
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A galaxy of musicians has graced the cover of V over the years, but only the star who appears on our 100th issue has a career that was born simultaneously with this magazine.
V1 dropped in September of 1999, only a few months after the release of …Baby One More Time, the landmark debut album that heralded the arrival of pop’s new princess, a Mickey Mouse Club alumnus who’d grown up into a music video Lolita, engineered by God to send the TRL generation into hysterics in the middle of Times Square.
Seventeen years, seven more albums, seven tours, two husbands, and two children later, Britney Spears is being captured by Mario Testino at Jim Goldstein’s architecturally renowned home in Los Angeles—the second time she’s posed for a V cover with the photographer. Her music of choice at the shoot includes female-driven hits from the past and current eras of pop: Madonna, Janet Jackson, and Selena Gomez. The vibe, she says, was relaxed. “It was really simple and sexy,” Spears recalls a few days later. “We were in a rock-and-roll guy’s house, which was out of this world, insanely beautiful. It was really different.” But Spears gives most of the credit for an enjoyable session to the maestro, Testino. “So much of it depends on the photographer you work with,” she says. “And he’s one of the best in the world. He was great, very quick, and we just had fun all day.”
Fun, relaxed, and efficient: all bywords for the way that Britney Spears exists in 2016. At 34 and a very “hands-on” single mother of two, she’s all about maintaining a work-life balance. She makes it apparent, in both arranging time for our interview and during the conversation itself, that nothing is more important to her than sons Sean Preston, 10, and Jayden, 9. Fortunately, Spears has a long-running gig happening that allows her to juggle her time between career and family most deftly: Piece of Me, her hit-packed show in residency at Las Vegas’s Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, which recently relaunched for a second two-year run, in revamped form. With Vegas only a quick 40-minute flight from her L.A. home and the boys, Spears plays three shows a week in six-week legs. “I’m on for six weeks, then off for six weeks,” she explains. It’s about as stable and low-stress a scenario as a working pop musician can find, in marked contrast to a world tour, which Spears says would typically keep her away from home for as many as six months. “I just love the lifestyle of being in Vegas and going back and forth. No traveling and going to all those places, and just having this be my home. It’s amazing. Actually, we just moved in the last few weeks to a new house. It’s only two minutes away from my old house, and it’s really nice, and big. It’s really open for the kids. So I get to stay there, and just go back and forth.”
The big question surrounding Piece of Me when it launched in December of 2013 was whether a residency by an artist with a younger fan base could sustain itself in casino land, where the Strip has long been populated by veteran performers with older, deep-pocketed followers. Yet as of last fall, Britney’s show was still at 75 percent capacity business, according to Billboard, and over its first two years, it’s averaged a nearly 85 percent box office. It’s been a financial boon for Planet Hollywood and Caesar’s Entertainment, was voted “Best Overall Show” in 2015 by the readers of the site Best of Las Vegas, and has become a prime attraction for the more youthful crowds now frequenting Sin City. But when Spears made the decision to re-up for another two years, she resolved to make some tweaks to the show. “Since I’d been doing it for so long, I just made a few changes to keep it fresh. It’s fun for me, so it doesn’t get too old.”
Daily “ass-kicking” rehearsals in January led to the launch of Piece of Me 2.0 on February 13th, featuring an updated setlist, choreography, dancers, costumes, and video production. The Vegas theatrics are there—fire, water (Spears was inspired by Cirque du Soleil’s hydroplaning show O), snow, and simulated flight—the latter of which has led to a few hiccups. In her second show of 2016, a flying apparatus didn’t work, and she had to descend from a tree perch via hidden staircase, while on another occasion, she was left hanging. “The harness came off,” she recalls, as though it was no big deal. “It hooks from the right and the left, but the right came off, so I was just hanging from the left. In the moment, I was totally freaked out. But then I just got down, and it was fine.” While the show’s setlist spans Spears’s best, from “Baby One More Time” through 2015’s duet with Iggy Azalea, “Pretty Girls,” there will be more changes on that front as well, adding songs as the year goes on from the singer’s forthcoming album, details of which have been kept tightly under wraps.
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