A perfect mix of bubble gum charm, high school naivety, and unfortunate matching wardrobe choices, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake were the ultimate pop power couple and the icon of young love. But like most first loves– and pretty much all celebrity romances—their affair came to a crashing end.
Inevitably, the split sent the two off in very different directions; living two very dissimilar lives despite their eerily similar backgrounds. And just as sure as knowing that life post-split would indeed go on, we know that some time later the two would be ripe for comparison. And wouldn’t you know it, that time is now.
Since their heat-wrenching split, who has been better off: Britney or Justin?
It’s nice to say that life isn’t a competition and all, but how much better do you feel when you see your ex got fat, ugly, or is dating someone fatter and uglier than you? Hopefully it’s all of the above, with a good amount of unreached potential in the mix. But even if you wish them well, bottom line, one thing is true: You never want to see them living a better life than the one they would have had with you.
If the best revenge is living well, you can’t forget that your perception of “living well” will always be in direct comparison to the living of your exes. It’s what makes the break up worth it!
The same thing is true with celebrities, only they do it on a much more public platform and have nobodies like me pointing out whether their rebound is a step up or down, and arbitrarily keeping score of who has lived the better life.
With that said, let’s break down Britney and Justin post-breakup to see who is winning.
Although there were never explicit reports of what happened to cause the riff between the dynamic couple, Justin’s “Cry Me A River” video fueled the most prevalent rumor that the wholesome, once-saving herself for marriage pop star had cheated.
I’m sure we’ll have to wait for tell-all autobiography to find out the truth and get some names—facts that would have a huge impact on my “was it worth it?” meter for Brit Brit—but that probably won’t happen until when one of these two are hurting for money in their old age.
Regardless, this is where we begin.
After Britney, Justin did what any 21-year-old guy would do his age and tore through a bunch of smoking hot ladies. He was rumored to be with Beyonce, Fergie, and Janet Jackson (or so says the Internets, and you KNOW it never lies) before hooking up with A-lister and long-time girlfriend, Cameron Diaz.
After Diaz, the rumor mill started once more as he was linked to [insert rolodex of insanely hot Hollywood actresses] until he finally found the perfectly pouty lips of Jessica Biel. The two dated for four years before splitting, then got back together recently and are now engaged. How boringly lovely.
Britney’s conquests of note don’t have the same name recognition as Justin’s (less her flash in the pan romances with Fred Durst, Jared Leto, and Colin Farrell), and odds are if you know the guy’s name, it’s because of her anyway.
In 2004, Britney married her childhood friend Jason Alexander for all of 55 hours. Citing she “lacked understanding of her actions,” she was able to get that lil hiccup annulled as well as set up the theme for the next five-odd years of her life—fast, furious, and with as little thinking as possible.
Six months after her annulment, she was dating a back up dancer by the name of Kevin Federline, and Brit quickly found herself back at the alter. Once the ink dried on the prenup, they got to baby-making.
Brit had her fist son, Sean Preston, only a year after the wedding, and her second, Jayden James, in 2006. Brit bored of her man toy quickly and she filed for divorce two months later.
Then there was the 2007 romance with paparazzo Adnan Ghalib, To give the relationship some context, she was hospitalized soon after.
Finally, there’s Brit’s former agent and current fiancé Jason Trawick. I’m not sure what to say about this because I’m too entranced in figuring out if he’s old and looks young, or young and looks old. He’s like a real life version of the young girl-old woman illusion—my brain just can’t see it simultaneously.
This is hard to call, since the Darwinistic view would be that Britney wins this round since her relationships have ensured survival of her superstar genetics.
Alternatively, anyone with a gag reflex would tell you that Justin’s ongoing list of the hottest actresses trumps Britney’s regrettable taste in mates any day.
Going to have to chalk this up to a tie and move on.
I’m going to preface this section with the disclaimer that both these stars are too accomplished for me to be able to list (or maybe more accurately, to care about listing) every single one of their many awards, projects, or endeavors. I’ll judge them on my facts anyway. Deal with it.
Justin broke away from his boy band and made noise as a solo artist. I guess it was pretty good noise, since his two solo albums sold more than seven million copies.
He has actually made some inroads in acting as well, mostly staying away from TV other than his SNL digital shorts, which spurred the famous, and Halloween costume inspiring, “Dick in a Box.” His first staring role was alongside acting giants Kevin Spacey and Morgan Freeman. The film, Edison, ended up bombing and going straight to DVD, but still, buddy worked with Spacey and Freeman.
Justin’s acting received critical acclaim for his performances in Alpha Dog, The Social Network, and I’m sure some other movies that I also didn’t see. Shrek was pretty awesome, so I’ll throw a little acclaim his way for that. I loved Donkey. He was Donkey, right?
Refusing to be pigeonholed in entertainment, Justin put on his business pants and now owns restaurants, a fashion label named William Rast, and 901 tequila.
Brit Brit’s career has kind of defied all odds. Despite what has happened in her personal life, girl just dominates the billboards.
Ms. Spears has 21 Top-40 hits in last 13 years, and holds the streak for the longest span of number ones on the mainstream top 40. In 2009, Billboard ranked Britney the 8th overall artist of the decade, the best selling female artist of the 21st century.
Britney has a Grammy, six MTV video music awards, an MTV lifetime achievement award, nine Billboard Awards, and a star on the Hollywood walk of fame.
The bubbly blonde is a known as a huge TV ratings boost, setting series-high numbers for her cameo on How I Met Your Mother, and recording the second largest audience and highest ratings ever for her spot on Glee. Clearly this has been noticed and she’s now on X-Factor, raking in a salary of $15 million.
It’s probably better Britney sticks to the small-screen, because the silver screen hasn’t been her forte. Britney was in a film you’ve probably never seen or heard of called Longshot (2000) and played a stewardess. Then there’s the bomb of a film everyone knows, Crossroads, which was her only real big-screen role.
Britney has dipped her pedicured toes in the business realm as well, hawking a scent back in 2004, Curious, which broke first-week gross for a perfume, and she also has clothing line for Candie’s.
While it could easily be argued that Britney has had the more illustrious career, it strikes me that she’s never really been the one captaining it.
Justin financed his own album to keep full control, co-writing and producing in the actual sense of the term. He owns his own record company, writes/produces for other artists, picks his own scripts and seems to have owned the moves he makes. He started his own businesses, and their successes and failures seem a little more dependent on the decisions he makes, not the fans he brings along with him.
Britney—to her credit—has had smart (and sometimes not so smart) people around her making her decisions for her, but I find it hard to believe she’s calling any of the real shots in her businesses. I doubt she knows the margins on her perfume, the place of manufacturing for her clothing line, or the next integrative step she is going to take using her brand for profit.
While there’s nothing wrong with Britney’s delegation of power, I have to give the edge to Justin since the comparison is between him and her, not him and her people. After all, this is about career, not star power… star power is next.
While Justin has seemed to easily go from talent to talent, never wavering and building an empire on the way, Britney has had more than her fair share of epic meltdowns. At first, it might seem like Justin has the advantage with his celebrity friends, legions of female fans, a solid foundation of credibility in various areas of entertainment and business, but you can never underestimate the power of an underdog.
Justin’s biggest PR mistake was the Super Bowl nipple slip, or maybe crying on Punk’d.
He’s been pretty steady, keeps his personal life mostly to himself, but in general, declined from uber-stardom when he stepped out of the boy band spotlight. There’s a lot of power in the tween population, but it seems Justin grew up and so did his fans.
Remember back to ’99, when Brit was posing on a bed for a Rolling Stone cover and the controversy it caused? If only the public knew what it was in for.
Britney hit the scene as everyone’s favorite schoolgirl, and from that moment, the world couldn’t look away, even as she swirled into the abyss
America loves a comeback story. They were ready for Britney’s comeback before Britney was.
Every time she falls, America is there to pick her right back up. She’s lost her abilities-of-old to seriously break it down, her good girl charm is a distant memory, and she has lost most of any looks she ever had, but still people are pulling for her.
She’s got a fanbase that is almost impossible to rival. Meltdown after meltdown, head shaving, psychiatric ward, baby seat fiasco all included, Britney keeps bouncing back into the welcoming arms of a world that refuses to let her go. That is star power.
While Britney might not have had as smooth a ride as Justin, I have to give it to her running away because there zero way anyone else could have gone what Britney has gone through and still come out to see the star-studded light of day.
She’s a cultural icon. No, wait. She’s Britney, bitch.
So, it would seem a decade and change out, Britney and Justin are still in a dead heat. Who knows how long it will be until we can determine an ultimate victor, but I guess for now all we can conclude is that it is best to not date either of these two: You’ll never come out on top.