Spears takes aim at fame

JANE STEVENSON

, Last Updated: 2:35 AM ET

In the six short months that have passed since Britney Spears visited Toronto to promote her debut album ... Baby One More Time, the 17-year-old singer has become a musical force.

At least if you're --- generally-speaking -- young, female, and like to shake your booty to thumping, mindless pop music.

Okay, so maybe it's not for me.

But the doe-eyed, voluptuous and southern-born Spears, who got her start as a Mousketeer, sure seems to appeal to hundreds of thousands of others given the sales of ... Baby One More Time. The album has sold 489,000 copies in Canada and gone quadruple platinum in the U.S. since its January release.

Spears, meanwhile, has appeared on the covers of Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone and Teen People, been named one of "the 50 most beautiful people in the world," by People magazine, is one of the new faces of Tommy Hilfiger Jeans, and is due to appear on three Dawson's Creek episodes in the fall.

"As far as acting goes, I'd love to do film," Spears told me. "There's been talk of a lot of things, but my schedule's so busy right now I just want to focus on my music. But maybe in the long run."

If that isn't enough ambitious activity, Spears just launched her first North American tour in Washington last week and makes her way to the Molson Amphtitheatre on Wednesday night after playing Copps Coliseum in Hamilton the evening before. Neither show is sold out, with tickets just released for the Copps show and lawn tickets still available for the amphitheatre gig.

Oh yeah, there's also been controversy. Plenty of controversy.

The video for her first single, the album's title track, featured a provocatively dressed Spears cavorting as a school girl in a micro-mini skirt, a black sports bra, black thigh-high stockings and an undone white shirt tied above her well-toned tummy.

Then there's the sex-and-violence-suggesting chorus for the song which goes: "Hit me baby one more time."

"I think it's really important that I am a positive role model," Spears said. "And just by being in my video I'm really confident and I'm happy with myself and I'm going for what I want out of life and that's what teenagers need to be today."

She's also since had to dodge questions about getting breast implants -- "my mom would just die if I did that!" she told USA Today -- which flared up in part due to her questionable photo spread for Rolling Stone featuring her in various Lolita-like attire.

"I don't see what the big hoopla is, " Spears told US magazine. "What's the big deal? I have really strong morals, and just because I look sexy on the cover of Rolling Stone doesn't mean I'm a naughty girl. I'd do it again. I thought the pictures were fine. And I was tired of being compared to Debbie Gibson and all of this bubblegum pop all the time. It shut them up, didn't it?"

Nobody said it was going to be easy to be a pop star at such a young age, but Spears said she felt ready for the responsibility.

"Oh, God yes, I'm so ready," she said. "I feel like this is my job at a young age. Like I'm going to college at an early age. This is what I want to do. I think of it as my job."

A job she is clearly cut out for. Spears -- who had to undergo knee surgery in February after injuring herself during rehearsals for a video shoot -- has gotten early decent reviews for her tour.

USA Today called her "assured and energetic," and reported her hour-long performance included six dancers, a five-piece band, a staircase entrance, and covers of Madonna's Material Girl, Janet Jackson's Black Cat and Nasty, Journey's Open Arms and Sonny and Cher's The Beat Goes On.

After opening earlier this year in the U.S. for 'N Sync, life aboard her own tour bus sure didn't appear to be a daunting prospect back in January.

"I'm having the time of my life right now and I wouldn't change this for anything," said Spears.


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