No matter how much of a music elitist you are, we all have our guilty pleasures. Britney Spears has always been mine. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the era of quintessential ’90s music, or maybe it’s because of my after-school education from MTV; but no matter how much I evolve musically, Britney is a constant. Now that we’ve all come down from the Britney high Glee gave us two weeks ago, I’m craving more, and let’s just be honest, I’m sure you are too. With talk of her newest album coming out early next year, an Arts Corner devoted solely to my icon seemed especially appropriate. So, I’m going to break it down for you, Britney style, on what’s next and why you should stick with her in case your fidelity was wavering.

‘I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet A Woman’

I’ve been a faithful Brit Brit fan since seventh grade when, along with my lime green boom box, I received …Baby One More Time for my birthday. This was a monumental moment, people – it was the first CD of my very own that my sister and I didn’t have to have violent arguments over. Sure, my better half and I begrudgingly shared our Spice Girls albums in the past, but this was the first CD I could add to my fledgling, nearly non-existent collection and proudly call my own.

Fast forward nine years later, and though I’d like to think my musical tastes have matured, I’m still a fan. Yes, I’ll admit sometimes I’m a little embarrassed Britney is hidden on my iPod, book ended between Broken Bells and British Sea Power, but then “Toxic” comes on shuffle and all my minor mortification dissolves. If you’re rolling your eyes right now about an entire column dedicated to Britney Spears, stick with me, even non-Britney fans can benefit.

‘You Drive Me (Crazy)’

Whenever I think back to my ’90s youth I nostalgically sigh at the good times of classic Britney. Remember those days? TRL reigned supreme in the arena of after school entertainment and Britney was still expected to actually use her voice in live entertainment and maintain a level of sane conduct within society. She was with Justin Timberlake. They wore matching denim outfits at one point. She starred in the movie “Crossroads.” Life was good.

And then she took a dose of crazy. A bald, shaved head and permanent maniacal facial expression accompanied by a swinging umbrella do not equal success in the pop realm.

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Although some may argue this brief foray into insanity didn’t bode well for her career, I think it did give her an excuse to have a “comeback.”

And that’s exactly what Blackout was supposed to be. She admittedly sounded, well, blacked out, and like she had to be propped up in the recording studio to slur “Gimme More” and “Piece of Me.” And though some hits were made, I was a Britney fan unsatisfied with her efforts. I thought about giving up on her, and then Circus debuted. My love for Britney was rekindled.

‘Stronger’

Now that she’s gotten her shit together (or at least her hair has started to grow back), the anticipation of her newest album is slowly building. But how can Britney top Britney? Buzz about her latest has already been reported, and music critics are saying this upcoming release will be a departure from her signature club hits.

Her manager, Larry Rudolph, said the album will have a “progressive” sound to match her maturity. Her “team” even recently flew top producers and writers to Dallas to collaborate on new sounds and help brainstorm ideas to make this album standout from the rest.

While new sounds from a favorite artist are always welcome, Britney shouldn’t stray too far from the tunes that made her the icon I worship. Although I love any dance beat Britney churns out, I miss dancing in my school girl costume and pigtails to the classic tune of “Baby One More Time.”

‘Gimme More’

And so, as I wait with bated breath for the newest release from Ms. Spears, I can’t help but dust off my lime green boom box, pop in Britney’s greatest hits and hope my icon returns to the glory I once worshiped.

Disagree with Ann’s take on the latest Britney buzz or just want to share memories of the “Oops! I Did it Again” video? E-mail her at [email protected]