Britney Spears is the Elvis Presley of Our Age



Saturday brought Britney Spears using social media to give the world an update on her personal gym, one that she herself had previously burnt down. It was an accident, she claims, and perhaps that’s true, but there’s still a lot of mystery and controversy surrounding that incident from a few months ago.

There’s a lot to unpack around that, but this is neither the time or space. My first thought in hearing about it was ‘oh like when Elvis Presley used to shoot his own television.’ You see, many years ago I was vocal about how Britney Spears was this generation’s Elvis Presley, and this take was vastly unpopular.


However, this stance seems to be aging quite well now today! Let’s take a look at how and why. (By the way, Bill Simmons is the Elvis of sportswriters, and you can read why here)

And yes, we no that some of the points here are indeed “a reach,” and it can be kind of a stretch on other dimensions, to say the least. Elvis had 30 #1 hits and it’s hard to analogize anyone to that kind of level, but with that in mind, let’s have some fun.

Hypersexualizing Sells

The idea of oversexualizing music, and being obvilious to doing so is common to both their careers. Their oblivion is either by design, and thus epitomizes the concept of being in denial. Or it’s calculated, and they’re just “saying all the right things” for the camera.

In his day, Elvis’ gyrating hips were considered extremely racy adult content. It was a very different time, and some networks considered his moves to be too hot for TV. With Spears, well, she put herself on the map by marketing a Lolita complex, literally.


When she burst on the scene in 1999, the whole jailbait motif was considered taboo, and had been for about 15 years. However, from the 1960s up until the early-mid 1980s, it was not so. It’s seriously creepy, scary and weird just how many mainstream rock songs (chart-toppers even!) were about grown men lusting after underage girls.

It was true both here and across the pond, from the British Invasion to Yacht Rock (even the Stones and Beatles are guilty of writing pedophile songs), but it had long gone away by the time Britney revived it.

Oh by the way, Priscilla was only 14 and Elvis was 25 when they first met, and she moved in four years later.

Back to Britney, her next look focused on baring her midriff, and that became a thing for an entire generation of young woman.

Thena came the music video with the panties over the outside of the jeans, kissing Madonna at the MTV VMAs, the video where she’s naked in the sauna and well you get the idea.

By the way, just in case you didn’t feel old today….Britney Spears is now 38 years young as you read this.

Also, if you haven’t seen The Onion movie, please treat yourself.

The character named Melissa Cherry lampoons the Britney brand, on this specific topic, perfectly. Neither artist is a high brow intellectual by any means, nor remotely close, but both knew exactly what they were doing in working it, and for them to claim otherwise is painfully transparent.

Good Looking White Person Takes Black Music and Sells it to the Masses

With Elvis this has been well-chronicled, over and over, so we won’t spend too much time on it. Listen to the lyrics of Public Enemy “Fight the Power” and then go Google it.

As for Britney, well ’90s R&B and ’90s Hip-hop, in my opinion, is probably some of the best music that has ever been made.

Then the turn of the decade/century/millenium came along and all these pop princesses (led by Britney, but there were quite a few more) took the same rhythms, notes and beats, watered them down some and then sold to scale.

Southern Fried Origins 

For both, the story begins in the deep deep south, in a small town in the middle of nowhere. Britney was born in Kentwood, LA which is just a five minute drive from the Mississippi border. Presley was born less than 300 miles away in Tupelo, MS.

So they’re oh so close to sharing the same home state and their “sons/daughters of the soil” (yes, it’s a euphemism for sure) roots are always present in everything they do.

If ever you heard either of them say “I’m from the south,” you’d respond “No WAY!!! REALLY??!!”


Viva Las Vegas

This is where I think Britney started to really lean into the Elvis comparison, and if so, good for her. Elvis did somewhere between 600 and 800 shows in Sin City, all of which sold out. Spears’s first Las Vegas concert residency, Britney: Piece of Me, ran from 2013 to 2017.

She was scheduled to begin her second residency in Las Vegas, Britney: Domination, in February 2019. The tour was scheduled to run until August 2019, but she had to withdraw in January of last year to focus on her father’s health issues.


Battle of the Bulges

Long before the term “body-shaming” existed, both of these artists experienced it, en masse. Both Spears and Presley experienced massive weight gain during the prime of their careers. While Brit is fit again The King passed away before having a chance to work all those fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches off.

Elvis was a huge eater all his life, eventually his metabolism lost the ability to keep up. Every single person, even the hottest person you know, has physical flaws and problem areas.

It’s just that these get get blown up when you’re a larger than life rock star.

Colorful Personalities with Issues

We all have issues and neuroses, but some people have more than others. We all have our vices and addictions. But again some people lose control more so than others.

You know the story: “sex, drugs and rock n roll,” and both of these artists have embodied it to a t.

So much has been written about this topic, in both cases, and a lot of it very judgy, so we’ll just move on.

Music Quality and Legacy

I know that this article is total trash to anyone who consders Graceland a shrine. I’m well aware that this analogy of mine is complete blaspeheme to any hard core Elvis fan. Yes, Elvis achieved more than almost anyone and I would agree that he was more talented than Britney is.

His music is aesthetically superior, but was his vocal talent really that much better than hers?

Is there really that much of a disparity in the experience of listening to his music over hers? His music is better but THAT MUCH? Probably not.

For those that just dismiss her as a marketing “pop tart” what was The King himself in his day?

I really don’t have anything very negative to say about either of their bodies of work. Well, “Three” and “Piece of Me” are very bad songs. Ditto for “Return to Sender” and “In the Ghetto.” Overall, I think both justr exist within the bell curve of mediocrity.

However, “Sometimes” and “Toxic” still hold up well today. The same is true for “Suspicious Minds” and “It’s Now or Never;” even though it’s an admitted rip-off of “O Solo Mio.” For both Elvis Presley and Britney Spears, there music is what it is, it’s neither exceptional, nor terrible.

But both “Kentucky Rain” and “Womanizer” make me stop whatever I’m doing at that instant to sing along. Both Presley and Spears were simply in the right place and the right time with the right agent, publicist and A&R men. The rest was history.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports, which is partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly contributes to WGN TVSports IllustratedChicago Now and SB Nation.

You can follow Banks, a former writer for Chicago Tribune.comon Twitter and his cat on Instagram.


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