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Britney Spears may rise out of the ash heap yet

Mumbai, Nov 21 (IANS) No celebrity is more poised to make a dramatic comeback than troubled pop superstar Britney Spears. Things have got so bad for the singer lately, both professionally and personally, that there is only one way to go from here - up.

2007-11-21T07:22:00Z

Mumbai, Nov 21 (IANS) No celebrity is more poised to make a dramatic comeback than troubled pop superstar Britney Spears. Things have got so bad for the singer lately, both professionally and personally, that there is only one way to go from here - up.

As Spears attempts a comeback with her just released album 'Blackout', all eyes are on her to see how she redeems herself. Britney's slide down to shame has been long and dramatic and sometimes hilarious. She shaved her head, abused drugs, divorced Kevin Federline and lost custody of her children to him, displayed her behind not wearing underwear, and was responsible for one of the worst and most embarrassing performances by a superstar when she sang at the MTV Video Music Awards recently.

Even as Spears embarks on what will prove to be a long arduous road to a comeback, she can seek inspiration in the many others who have been where she was and have got out through sheer will and mostly luck.

Artistes like Santana, Aerosmith, Loretta Lynn and most famously Mariah Carey have crawled out of the ash heap of ruined careers to wow us all.

Santana's fall into obscurity was no fault of his own. His style of music and virtuoso guitar simply went out of style and could not keep fans' interest alive. But in 1999, in what will have to be one of the greatest comebacks of all time, he released 'Supernatural'. Though it was mainly collaborations with stars of that day, it proved to be phenomenally successful, selling more than 15 million copies.

The late Grateful Dead legend Jerry Garcia once described the rock band Aerosmith as 'the druggiest bunch of guys I've ever seen'. The band hit the dumps so bad they spent five years apart from each other, but with the help of rehabilitation managed to come back in the 1980s. They still manage to sell a decent number of albums and their crowd pull at concerts is commendable.

Sometimes all it takes to get you motivated enough to drag yourself to the studio to record again is the flattering praise of a young fan who just happens to be one of the biggest rock stars of his day. That's what happened to country music legend Loretta Lynn when White Stripes lead singer Jack White collaborated with her on the award-winning album 'Van Lear Rose' released in 2004.

Lynn was most famous in the 1980s when actress Sissy Spacek won an Academy Award for portraying her in the movie 'Coal Miner's Daughter'. After that she drifted out of the scene, even resigning herself to the fact that her career was over. But Jack White, a more than enthusiastic fan, met her and out of that was born the idea to do an album. White arranged, produced, and lent his voice too.

But the one comeback Spears can take the most inspiration from is Mariah Carey's. Carey like Spears, though nowhere as shameful, ridiculed herself before she crashed. In the summer of 2001, Carey reached a low point when she went on MTV and distributed popsicles before performing a striptease.

She told the host of the show TRL, 'I just want one day off when I can go swimming and eat ice cream and look at rainbows.' A few days later she was hospitalised and the official explanation was 'extreme exhaustion'.

A few years later she came out with the hugely successful album 'The Emancipation of Mimi', which won critical raves and re-established her to her pre-breakdown level of fame.

Some have watched with amused glee as Spears finds innovative ways to embarrass herself almost every other day. But there are more who sincerely hope that she will pull herself by the bootstraps and redeem herself. Everyone loves an underdog. Here's hoping.

(Sevanand Gaddala writes on cinema and can be contacted at sevanand@gmail.com)

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