Over a decade ago, she emerged as a teen music sensation—the very definition of sexy, exuberant pop in our age of excess, and the template for a legion of imitators. But Britney was no flash in the millennial pan. Through crisis and controversy, she has adhered herself to our consciousness simply by doing what she does best: crafting irresistibly danceable, instantly unforgettable hits, over and over (and over and over and over) again. In 2011, Britney is still Britney, and she’s back with an album designed to get us moving. Again

Britney Spears, the sweetest girl who ever emerged from McComb, Mississippi, is once again on a mission to make us dance. This spring, the greatest pop star of our generation returns with Femme Fatale, a suite of hits destined for good times, late nights, and heavy clubland rotation. Filled with brazen, sexual lyrics against an aggressive, Euro-style beat, the album’s first single, “Hold It Against Me,” shot to number one in nineteen countries within hours of its release in January. The fans, it seems, have been waiting. At age 29, Spears has achieved a level of fame and notoriety that might make continued success an easy prospect. Yet she remains anything but asleep at the wheel. Fatale finds Spears in control of her image and her sound, building on a decade-strong brand of feel-good pop. If we love Spears (and we undoubtedly do), it’s because she’s a constant reminder of the fun and freedom we’ve enjoyed, and a harbinger of sunny days ahead. She is good times preserved in amber. We don’t ever want her to change. She’s perfect just the way she is.

V As a child, what did you imagine fame would be like? BRITNEY SPEARS I don’t think I thought about “fame” when I was a child. I knew I wanted to perform and I knew I wanted to be on stage but I don’t think I ever thought about fame or what comes with being famous. V Do you think you were destined to become a star? BS If not, then God definitely has a strange sense of humor. V Do you follow astrology? BS A little. I like to believe there is a little magic in the world, but I also believe we choose our own path. V When did you first realize you were famous? BS Am I famous? V Define a femme fatale. BS A woman who is sexy and strong, dangerous and mysterious, cool and confident. V If your Circus album represented a comeback, what does Femme Fatale represent? BS I think Femme Fatale speaks for itself. I worked really hard on it and spent almost two years recording it. I think it’s the best album I have ever made. There’s nothing to say. I’ll let the music speak for me.

V What direction are you taking with the sound? BS I wanted to make a fierce dance record where each song makes you want to get up and move your body in a different way. That’s what I want from the music I listen to. This record is for the clubs, or something you play before you go out at night. It’s definitely my edgiest and most mature sound yet. V Would you consider this new album a revolution or an evolution? BS It’s a little of both. There are songs on this album that don’t sound like anything else and are completely revolutionary, but I also believe that this album expresses where I am today as a woman and is an evolution of who I am. V What is your favorite song on the album and why? BS I really love “On the Rocks” because it sounds so different from anything I have ever heard. It’s so cool and quirky. V These days it seems everyone collaborates with everyone else, yet you have always been very selective. Would you collaborate again? Who would you like to collaborate with next? BS You’ll just have to wait and see… V You have your finger on the pulse. How do you discover new artists, collaborators, and genres of music? BS I like music that makes you move and connects with your soul. I like to feel inspired right away when I listen to new music. I always have songs being sent to me from new artists and producers from all over the world, which is really cool. From there I just follow my heart. V What have you been listening to on your iPod lately? BS I love the Black Eyed Peas. They always put me in a good mood. I listen to them a lot. I love Christina [Aguilera]’s “Woo Hoo,” and “Paper Planes” by M.I.A. I CANNOT stop listening to “We No Speak Americano” by Yolanda Be Cool & DCup.

V Everybody knows you as Britney the pop star. What are some of your talents and interests that might surprise people? BS I love to cook, especially for my boys. I also make a mean southern sweet tea from a recipe my mom passed on to me. It’s really good. I love it. I make it for my boys all the time. V Despite the ups and downs in your past, you’ve always come out on top. What is the secret to your success? BS I have learned to always stay true to myself and never let what other people say about me change who I am. It’s a really important lesson that took me a long time to learn. V What makes you happy? BS My boys. V What makes you sad? BS When people are cruel to each other. V Your every move is reported in the media. What are your tricks to staying balanced and not letting it get to you? BS I’m past all of that. I try to block it all out and not pay attention to anything they write about me in the magazines or online. I’m done with that. V In the past you allowed your fans a great deal of access into your world, much more so than now. Do you feel you’ve become guarded? BS A little bit. I think it’s easier to let people in when you’re younger, but when I became a mother I wanted more privacy for myself and my children. A life away from my life. V What motivates you to keep doing what you do? BS I love making new music for my fans, I love performing for my fans, and most importantly, I love my fans. I am so lucky to have their support. They drive me.

V If you walked away from it all tomorrow, what would you do instead? What would you miss the most? The least? BS I’d be a full-time mom which would be cool. I’d miss my fans and all of the love the most, but I definitely would not miss having my picture taken everywhere I go. I wouldn’t miss showering in arenas either. So gross! V What would you like people to know about you today? BS That the bitch is back and better than ever! [Laughs] V Where do you see yourself in ten years? BS Right here! V What do you feel will be your legacy? BS Two amazing boys and a lot of music that hopefully brings a lot of people a lot of happiness.

Britney Spears’s Femme Fatale is out in March 2011 from Jive

Makeup Hannah Murray using Topshop Makeup (Julian Watson Agency)Hair Oribe using Oribe Hair Care (Art Partner)

Manicure April Foreman (The Wall Group) Tailor Susie Kourinian Photo assistants Alex Franco, Aaron Thomas, Benjamin TietgeStylist assistants Matt Caroll and Sandra AmadorStylist’s studio Philly PiggottMakeup assistant Nicola ArtmontHair assistant Judy EricksonSet and prop styling Bill DoigProduction Gabe Hill (GE Projects)Catering Love CateringDigital capture Ivan ShawRetouching R&D Location Miauhaus Studios, L.A.Special thanks Adam Leber,Holly Shakoor, Rinat Greenberg