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~autobiographies~
Sunday, 24 July 2005
Kelly Clarkson
The winner of Fox TV's first American Idol: The Search for a Superstar competition, during the summer of 2002 Kelly Clarkson went from an anonymous talent to a nationally known singer performing for an audience of millions of viewers. One of the show's most naturally gifted singers, the 20 year-old Burleson, TX native's vocal talents were discovered when she was in seventh grade, when her school's choir teacher heard her singing and urged Clarkson to join the choir. After high school, Clarkson cultivated her voice and went to Hollywood to make her name; she appeared as an extra on an episode of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch but no other opportunities materialized. Upon returning to Burleson, Clarkson worked at a movie theater, promoted Red Bull energy drinks and ultimately worked as a cocktail waitress at a comedy club before entering the American Idol contest. One of 10,000 aspiring singers, Clarkson distinguished herself not only with her big, surprisingly mature voice, but also with her down-to-earth charm and sense of humor: at one of her auditions, she switched places with judge Randy Jackson, who did an impromptu version of R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly." Over the course of the 13-week show, her consistently strong performances of songs like "Respect," "Natural Woman," "Stuff Like That There" and "Without You" earned Clarkson enough audience votes to claim one of the contest's two finalist positions. After singing "A Moment Like This" and "Before Your Love," both of which were written for the show, Clarkson won the American Idol contest with 58 percent of the audience's votes. In addition to the show's prize of a $1 million recording contract with RCA, Clarkson secured a deal with Creative Artists Agency and several bookings, including the national American Idol tour and a performance of the national anthem at the September 11 commemoration at Washington, DC's Lincoln Memorial. Despite her newfound fame, Clarkson opted to remain in Texas rather than move to New York or Los Angeles. Her first single, A Moment Like This, was released just two weeks after she won the contest and quickly earned platinum sales. Clarkson's self-titled full-length album -- which was rumored to include a duet with the contest's runner-up, curly-haired heartthrob Justin Guarini -- was released in spring of 2003, just in time to coincide with the second season of American Idol and right before the American Idol movie, From Justin to Kelly.

Posted by leatotalgirl05 at 3:57 AM EDT
Britney Spears
More than any other single artist, Britney Spears was the driving force behind the return of teen pop in the late '90s. The blockbuster success of the Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys certainly paved the way for her own commercial breakthrough, but Spears didn't just become a star -- she was a bona fide pop phenomenon. Not only did she sell millions of records, she was a media fixture regardless of what she was (or wasn't) doing; among female singers of the era (many of whom followed in her footsteps), her celebrity star power was rivaled only by Jennifer Lopez. From the outset, Spears' sex appeal was an important part of her image; the video for her debut single, "...Baby One More Time," outfitted her in full Catholic-school regalia, and sent her well on the way to becoming an international sex symbol. Yet Spears' handlers seemed to be trying to have it both ways -- there was a definite tension between the wholesome innocence Spears tried to project for her female audience, and the titillating sexuality that enticed so many male fans. Those marketing tactics made Spears a somewhat controversial figure, the subject of endless debates concerning appropriate role models for teenage girls. Early on, Spears tried to defuse the controversy by preaching abstinence until marriage, and even denied that she was consciously cultivating such a sexualized image. Of course, the more provocative and revealing her on-stage wardrobe became, the less plausible that claim seemed. But apart from her ability to tiptoe the line between virginal coquette and brazen tart, Spears had a secret weapon in Swedish pop mastermind Max Martin, who had a hand in the vast majority of her hits as a writer and/or producer. With Martin crafting the sort of contemporary dance-pop and sentimental ballads that made stars of the Backstreet Boys, Spears kept on delivering the goods commercially, as her first three albums all topped the charts.

Britney Jean Spears was born December 2, 1982, in the small town of Kentwood, LA, and began performing as a singer and dancer at a young age. With a nationally televised appearance on Star Search already under her belt, Spears auditioned for the Disney Channel's The New Mickey Mouse Club at age eight. The producers turned her down as too young, but one of them took an interest and introduced her to an agent in New York. Spears spent the next three years studying at the Professional Performing Arts School, and also appeared in several television commercials and off-Broadway plays. At 11, she returned to The New Mickey Mouse Club for a second audition, and this time made the cut. Although her fellow Mouseketeers included an impressive array of future stars -- *NSYNC's Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez, Christina Aguilera, and Felicity actress Keri Russell -- the show was canceled after Spears' second season. She returned to New York at age 15 and set about auditioning for pop bands and recording demo tapes, one of which eventually landed her a deal with Jive Records.

Spears entered the studio with top writer/producers like Eric Foster White (Boyzone, Whitney Houston, Backstreet Boys) and Max Martin (Ace of Base, Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC). In late 1998, Jive released her debut single, the Martin-penned "...Baby One More Time." Powered by its video, in which Spears and a troupe of dancers were dressed as Catholic-school jailbait, the single shot to the top of the Billboard charts. When Spears' debut album of the same title was released in early 1999, it entered the charts at number one and stayed there for six weeks. Once the ubiquitous lead single died down, the album kept spinning off hits: the Top Ten "(You Drive Me) Crazy," the near-Top 20 ballad "Sometimes," and the Top 20 "From the Bottom of My Broken Heart." By the end of 1999, ...Baby One More Time had sold ten million copies, and went on to sell a good three million more on top of that. Its success touched off a wave of young pop divas that included Christina Aguilera, Pink, Jessica Simpson, and Mandy Moore. Spears was a superstar, drooled over in countless magazines, including a Rolling Stone cover that prompted immediate speculation about the still-17 year old having gotten breast implants.

By the time ...Baby One More Time finally started to lose steam on the singles and album charts, Spears was ready to release her follow-up. Oops!...I Did It Again appeared in the spring of 2000, and the title track was an instant smash, racing into the Top Ten. The album entered the charts at number one and sold over a million copies in its first week of release, setting a new record for single-week sales by a female artist. Follow-up singles included "Lucky," the gold-selling "Stronger," and "Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know," which was co-written by country diva Shania Twain and her producer Mutt Lange. A year after its release, Oops!...I Did It Again had sold over nine million copies. Rumors that Spears was dating *N Sync heartthrob (and fellow ex-Mouseketeer) Justin Timberlake were eventually confirmed, which only added to the media attention lavished on her.

For her next album, Spears looked ahead to a not-so-distant future when both she and much of her audience would be growing up. Released in late 2001, Britney tried to present the singer as a more mature young woman, and was accompanied by mild hints that her personal life wasn't always completely puritanical. It became her third straight album to debut at number one, although this time around the singles weren't as successful; "I'm a Slave 4 U," "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman," and "Overprotected" all missed the Top Ten. In early 2002, Spears' feature-film debut, Crossroads, hit theaters, but its commercial performance was somewhat disappointing; moreover, her romance with Timberlake fizzled not long after. Spears next made a cameo appearance in Mike Myers' Austin Powers: Goldmember, and contributed a remix of "Boys" to the soundtrack. Meanwhile, sales of Britney stalled at four million copies, perhaps in part because a new breed of teenage female singer/songwriters, like Michelle Branch and Avril Lavigne, was emerging as an alternative to the highly packaged teen queens. Spears took a break from recording and performing for several months, and began work on a new album in early 2003.

Posted by leatotalgirl05 at 3:52 AM EDT
Pamela Andersone

Bleached blonde, buxom, but muscular bombshell Pamela Anderson stands out in any crowd as one of the sex symbols of the mid-'90s. Known first as a spokesmodel for Labatt beer, then as one of Playboy magazine's most popular models, Anderson gained international recognition after she was cast as C.J., the sweet but tough lifeguard in the impossibly tight red bathing suit in the phenomenally popular syndicated television series Baywatch. Her popularity has led to several film roles, notably that of the black leather bustier-wearing title heroine in the comic-book actioner Barb Wire (1996). The role was appropriate, for there is something indeed cartoonish about Anderson, who had enhanced her petite frame with big hairdos, surgically inflated lips, and silicon breast implants (since removed).

Anderson made a splash on the day she was born, as she was the centennial baby in her region of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. she first attracted media notice n 1989, when a roving camera caught a glimpse of her during a professional football game in Vancouver. The picture of the cheering Anderson, who was wearing a Labatt's tee shirt at the time, was simultaneously shown on the arena's Jumbotron screen. Though her body was, surgically speaking, still in its original condition, her attributes and beauty were enough to cause a sensation. Labatt's executives remembered the crowd's positive reaction and hired her to become the brewery's spokeswoman. She attracted the attention of Playboy and was hired to do a photo layout. She has since gone on to appear on the magazine's cover an unprecedented five times. Once in Hollywood, she changed her appearance and soon found work guest starring on television shows. Her first recurring role was on the ABC sitcom Home Improvement where she played Lisa, the Tool Time Girl. Anderson made her film debut playing a cheerleader in the low-budget actioner The Taking of Beverly Hills (1992). She has also appeared in a few television movies, including Come Die With Me: A Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer Mystery (1994). Although an attempt to translate her small-screen success to the silver screen in the comic-book Casablanca adaptation Barb Wire proved unsuccessful to say the least, Anderson continued to thrill television audiences in Baywatch and stirred up much controversy when an extremely intimate honeymoon video of herself and then-husband Tommy Lee began making the rounds in 1998. Though the couple parted ways that same year in a highly publicized divorce case, Anderson continued an on-again off-again relationship with the rocker and returned to television in V.I.P. Later associated with rap/metal icon Kid Rock, Anderson shocked her fan base in early 2002 when she announced that she had contracted the Hepatitis C virus

Posted by leatotalgirl05 at 3:44 AM EDT
Carmen Electra
Perhaps more famous for her physical attributes than for her talent, Carmen Electra managed to parlay a stint as an MTV game show hostess into a career as a TV and movie actress. Born Tara Leigh Patrick and raised in Ohio, Electra left her performing arts high school with plans to become a singer. After a failed album for Prince's Paisley Park label in the early '90s, however, Electra shifted direction. Along with her first Playboy spread, the aspiring entertainer scored her career breakthrough when she replaced Jenny McCarthy as the co-host of MTV's highly-rated dating game Singled Out in 1996. After the show went off the air, Electra successfully stepped in for another buxom TV blonde when she took over lifeguarding duties from Pamela Anderson on the syndicated hit Baywatch from 1997 to 1998.

Electra moved to features with a bit part of a good comedy Good Burger (1997) ang larger roles in Indie movies Starfucker (1998), The Chosen One: The Legend of Raven (1998), and Starstruck (1999). t was Electra's infamous several-day marriage to flamboyant basketball star Dennis Rodman in 1998, though, that further augmented her celebrity. Keeping her assets and tabloid fame in humorous perspective, Electra followed her role as what else, The Female, in the mockumentary The Mating Habits of Earthbound Humans (1999) with a self-parodic turn as the bodacious first victim in the hit horror send-up Scary Movie (2000).

While Elektra failed to land any big successes in the ensuing handful of years, 2004 saw her emerge again, gaining notice on both the large and small screens. In the wake of such hit shows as The Osbournes, The Anna Nicole Show, and, most notably, Newlyweds, Elektra and husband-to-be Dave Navarro agreed to let an MTV camera crew record their lives for the reality show Til Death Do Us Part. Meanwhile, she also showed up to steal a few scenes in the tongue-in-cheek feature-film version of Starsky and Hutch.

Posted by leatotalgirl05 at 3:41 AM EDT
Chad Murray
Young teen star Chad Murray worked as a model for Gucci and Tommy Hilfiger before breaking into acting with a guest-star appearance on Diagnosis Murder. He found a home for himself amid the young adult-programming schedule of the WB asTristan DuGrey on Gilmore Girls and Charlie Todd on Dawson's Creek. After a small role in the feature-length thriller Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 and the made-for-TV drama Aftermath, his played his first lead role as the titular hero in The Lone Ranger, updated by the WB. In 2003, he appeared in the remake of Freaky Friday

Posted by leatotalgirl05 at 3:32 AM EDT
Lindsay Lohan
Actress/teen pop star Lindsay Lohan entered the world of show business at the tender age of three as a Ford model, which led to television commercials for the Gap, Pizza Hut, and Wendy's. She did more television work as she grew up, including stints on soap operas like Another World and The Guiding Light, as well as roles in The Bette Show and Get a Clue, a Disney Channel movie. Lohan's Disney connection, which included starring as the twins in a remake of The Parent Trap, continued into her teens and helped her expand her career into music: along with co-starring with Jamie Lee Curtis in 2003's Freaky Friday, she also performed the movie's theme song, "Ultimate." The following year, Lohan starred in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen and contributed two songs to its soundtrack. Buoyed by these successes as well as her starring role in Mean Girls, Lohan hosted the 2004 MTV Movie Awards and won an award for Female Breakout Star. She also signed to Tommy Mottola's Casablanca Records, releasing her debut album Speak in December of 2004.

Posted by leatotalgirl05 at 2:31 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 24 July 2005 2:36 AM EDT
Hilary Duff
Arguably the only teen pop star with the potential to rival or surpass the popularity of Britney Spears -- albeit with a very different approach -- Hilary Duff made a name for herself on the enormously successful Disney Channel/ABC Kids show Lizzie McGuire, which she parlayed into careers as a pop singer and film actress. Like most overnight successes, Duff paid her dues for a few years before her big break. Appearances in the 1997 women's Western True Women, 1998's Casper (as the Friendly Ghost's human friend Wendy), and 1999's The Soul Collector paved the way for her best-known role. Lizzie McGuire, which chronicled the ups and downs of junior high schooler Lizzie's life with live-action and animated clips, debuted in 2001 and very quickly became a huge hit with the preteen set. Aside from the show's unique format, one of the main reasons for its success was Duff herself. As Lizzie, she was pretty, funny, and smart, but not intimidatingly so; she had two best friends, Gordo and Miranda, so she wasn't super-popular or an outcast; and she was confident enough to do her own thing, but still vulnerable enough to have crushes on unattainable boys.

At the same time Lizzie was taking off, Duff also appeared in the indie film Human Nature, reflecting her continuing big-screen aspirations. Lizzie McGuire mania continued through 2002, and Duff began her first steps toward her singing career with the song "Santa Claus Lane," which appeared on the soundtrack to The Santa Clause 2, as well as her own Christmas album, also named Santa Claus Lane. That year, production ended on Lizzie McGuire, freeing up Duff to pursue other opportunities. Episodes of the show continued to run into 2003, but by that time Duff had begun to move on, appearing in the teen spy movie Agent Cody Banks and playing Lizzie one last time in The Lizzie McGuire Movie, where funnily enough, she goes to Italy and is mistaken for a teen pop star. The soundtrack to the movie also featured several songs by Duff, including the singles "Why Not" and "I Can't Wait," which were both successes in their own right; the soundtrack went platinum in summer 2003.

Around that time, Metamorphosis, Duff's bona fide debut as a singer, was released. The album had a hipper and more eclectic sound than any of the material she had been given previously, and helped establish her as a personality outside of her Lizzie McGuire fame. The album charted number two on the Billboard 200 on the week of its release, and its single "So Yesterday" topped the pop singles chart earlier that summer. Duff's omnipresence in 2003 continued with appearances at that year's MTV Video Music Awards and the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards, where she accepted Lizzie McGuire's trophy for Favorite TV Show. She also appeared in that year's film Cheaper By the Dozen and embarked on a tour that fall. The year 2004 looked to be just as busy for Duff, with movies like A Cinderella Story and Agent Cody Banks 2 on the docket, as well as a new TV series with CBS in the works.

Posted by leatotalgirl05 at 2:29 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 24 July 2005 2:37 AM EDT
Ashlee Simpson
She might be the younger sister of superstar Jessica Simpson, but don't confuse their tastes or style when it comes to music. Waco, TX-born Ashlee Simpson always loved music. At age 11 she was the youngest person ever admitted into the School of American Ballet. At 14 she moved with her parents and older sister to Los Angeles and spent time dancing in Jessica's stage show. Appearances on Malcolm in the Middle and The View lead to a regular role on the television show Seventh Heaven but Ashlee's heart was set on a music career. One of her songs, "Just Let Me Cry", landed on the Freaky Friday soundtrack in 2003 and Ashlee continued work on her rocking and punky demos when Seventh Heaven wasn't in production. Geffen was impressed and released her debut album, Autobiography, in 2004 as MTV was debuting Ashlee's own reality show.

Posted by leatotalgirl05 at 2:24 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 24 July 2005 2:37 AM EDT
Mandy Moore
Teen dance-pop singer Mandy Moore was born in Nashua, NH on April 10, 1984 but raised in Orlando, FL; determined to be an entertainer from the age of six onward, she was later known throughout the Orlando area as the "National Anthem Girl" for her regular performances of "The Star Spangled Banner" at local sporting events. Breaking into the recording industry via voiceovers and commercials, in 1999 Moore became the latest Orlando teen to sign a record contract after landing at Sony; her debut album So Real appeared late that year.The album spawned a hit with "Candy, a remix of which also appeared on her 2000 release I Wanna Be With You. A self-titled sophomore effort appeared in summer 2001. She has three cats: Milo, Zoe, and Chloe.

Posted by leatotalgirl05 at 2:23 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 24 July 2005 2:38 AM EDT
Nick Lachey
As the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC redefined pop music for the masses upon the closing of the 1990s, 98? were also making girls scream and swoon with their darling good looks and delightsome harmonies. Fronting the vocal group was the svelte charmer Nick Lachey. This onetime sports medicine major was a bona fide star thanks to his sensitive performance style, and a career in Hollywood seemed destined for Lachey.

Born Nicholas Scott Lachey on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee in fall 1973, he and his younger brother Drew excelled in sports and academics while attending Cincinnati's School for the Creative and Performing Arts. There, the Lachey brothers honed their vocal abilities, but it wasn't until Lachey was a student at Miami University in Ohio that he found himself seriously considering a career in music. He and soon-to-be bandmate Jeff Timmons were invited to attend auditions for an up-and-coming vocal group in Los Angeles. Drew Lachey and pal Justin Jeffre jumped aboard shortly thereafter and 98? was sired.

The band went on to release four albums (all of which went platinum), and singles such as "My Everything," "Way You Want Me To," and "Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche)" became chart and radio favorites across North America. Just as the boy band phenomenon began winding down somewhat, Lachey felt it was time to focus on other artistic ventures. The second tenor married his longtime girlfriend, singer Jessica Simpson, in fall 2002 and launched a solo career. He and Simpson instantly became A-list celebrities when their MTV-based reality show, Newlyweds, captured American audiences in 2003. While their show was still going strong, Lachey issued his first album for Universal, the R&B/pop-flavored album SoulO, before the year's end. Plans for his own ABC television show were in the works in 2004.

Posted by leatotalgirl05 at 2:21 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 24 July 2005 2:39 AM EDT

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