If you think having the No. 1 album in the country for four weeks straight has seventeen-year-old Britney Spears jumping for joy, guess again. It's not that she's not thrilled with the success of her smash debut, ... Baby One More Time, mind you -- jumping for joy is simply not an option for her at the moment, thanks to a dislocated left leg. So she's recuperating at home in the small town of Kentwood, La., (pop. 1,200) "Just sitting here watching TV, like I do every day."
That's a far cry from the spunky image that catapulted Spears to the top of the teen-dominated Billboard Top Ten. Showing off her well-toned midriff in the video for the album's title-track smash, Spears comes off as a high school everygirl -- the cheerleading class socialite who seems like she would also be the friend of every geek or nerd who crosses her path. The market was right for a female solo act who could inspire the little girls and get a rise out of the little boys who might have had crushes on the Spice Girls but also knew they were out of their league. But lest you think she came out of nowhere to fill the void, consider that Spears is already a veteran of New York's Professional Performing Arts School, the off-Broadway comedy Ruthless and The Mickey Mouse Club. When the Mouse gig folded, she scored a deal with Jive Records, which hooked her up with Backstreet Boys/Ace of Base mastermind Max Martin and Eric Foster. Her career has been purring along smoothly ever since -- with the exception of her injury, which has put plans such as appearing at MTV's Spring Break extravaganza on ice for the time being. But rest assured that plenty of fans don't mind waiting for her to do it one more time -- and then some.
So, what happened with the leg?
I was in dance rehearsal for the second video, "Sometime," and nobody was in the room except me. I was stretching my leg, and I kicked my right leg up in the air, and my left leg was on the ground and had such a good grip on the floor that my knee just dislocated and it went out of the socket. I didn't even know your leg could do that, and I thought I broke it 'cause it went completely out. The doctor said I'm really lucky I didn't tear any ligaments. I just tore a lot of tissue, and it's gonna take awhile for my leg to heal. I can't use my quad muscles, so the top part of my leg looks really small, 'cause of atrophy. It's really weird.
So you've gotten to watch the album sky-rocket from a reclining position. What's it like to have a No. 1 record?
I'm like really thankful -- really, really happy about everything. I never really expected it to go to No. 1. With the single doing so well, I was just gonna be happy if it went on the charts at, like, No. 47 or something. When they called and told me, I was sleeping so I thought they meant the single went to No. 1. Then they said, "No, your album," and I was completely overwhelmed. I called everyone.
You live in a small town, where everybody -- or at least most of the folks -- would probably know you even without the success. Are you treated any differently now?
The first time I went home, like, six weeks ago, the single had just taken off. I noticed all these people coming up to me in stores and stuff. It was a little crazy, 'cause it was my first time experiencing that since I was always on the road and I was never out in public. And it was, "Uh, oh, this is a little crazy." But it was flattering, too. I think after awhile it'll probably be annoying.
You've also become a sex symbol for teenage boys. Were you ready for that?
Not really. The first time I saw that there were even guys that were interested was when I went down to MTV to do the [Total Request Live] thing, and there were so many guys down there! I'd never seen that, 'cause I'm so used to opening for 'N Sync and seeing all these girls. And all of a sudden I went to MTV and there were all these guys and it hit me, "Oh my goodness!" It's cute and flattering, 'cause they have their little shirts all saying "Can you go to the prom with me?" It's really cute.
Do you have a boyfriend?
No, I do not have a boyfriend. I wish I could have time to have a boyfriend. But, really, I don't want a boyfriend, because I hate talking on the phone. I'm not a good phone conversation person. Long distance relationships just aren't for me.
Because of your success, do you have to be suspect of who you do hang around with?
When I come home I see my main friends, but I really don't tell anybody I'm coming home because if I did, I'd have to go visit nine million people. So I just kinda sneak home and totally relax.
Are your siblings starting to charge their friends to come
over to visit and catch a glimpse of you?
Oh, no (laughs). My sister's little friends -- she's seven, so cute -- when they're over here, it's, like, really weird because they'll see me and come and give me a really big hug, and they're, like, staring at you. It's kinda funny. I have an older brother, too; he's twenty-one, the typical, over-protective brother. He's going to college right now.
When the songs are presented to you, do you give much consideration to what they're saying? Do you worry about whether they're appropriate for a seventeen-year-old girl to sing or if you've had the life experience to really sell the sentiment?
There have been a couple of songs I've listened to that felt really, really adult and were too adult for me to sing. But, you know, with time there's songs that are probably going to fit in that category. There are songs that are probably too adult for me to sing right now but that I'll be able to come back to and be able to sing later.
Have you had a chance yet to celebrate your success with any big purchases -- like your own car?
Oh, my God -- I don't know. I've been thinking about that. I really, really like the two-door Lexuses, the coupe. I think that's a little too extravagant for your first car, though. I'd probably wreck it.