Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson And The Art Of The Second Act

Above the Buzz examines how these former pop princesses serve as examples of how stars can re-brand themselves again and again.

Both Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson dominated headlines this week. Not since the late '90s have these two duked it out for so much media coverage.

However there's a remarkable difference in what's happening today to what was happening then: Then, everyone was talking about their music and their pop star personas. Where Britney was a Lolita who proclaimed virginity while dancing provocatively in belly-baring tops, Jessica was innocent and sweet and didn't dare anger her minister daddy. Jessica released songs that put her big voice on display, and Brit focused on songs that put eyes on her dazzling dance moves and her ear for dance beats.

A lot has changes in the years since then. What's interesting is that, despite their seemingly different personalities, in retrospect, they have a lot more in common than was initially apparent: They are both down-home country girls who have built empires that few can touch. Both have had very public career highs met with very public personal lows. Both have loved boy banders. Both have even documented their lives on reality shows, albeit with very different outcomes.

With almost 15 years separating the women they are now from those girls they were then, it seems they are looking to change it up.

At a time where the pop world is filled with plenty of younger pop princesses looking for their time to shine, Britney and Jessica seem comfortable enough with their own musical legacies to let them all have their moments. And, they should be at ease. They have both been incredibly successful in that world, having sold millions of albums, had huge radio singles and made music that is uniquely their own. And while Simpson has let her music take a back seat to other projects in the past few years, Spears is still a working singer who sells out tours and tops the charts.

These days, Jessica seems focused on maintaining the post-pop star second act she launched several years back. She's a fashion mogul with a billion-dollar empire that has outfitted fashionistas with reasonably priced essentials like platforms and bags. She also judges up-and-coming fashion talent on NBC's "Fashion Star," sharing with new designers her own wisdom on breaking into the industry. But, always savvy enough to keep people guessing, she's expanded her brand even further.

Now, she is also the latest mommy mogul. Jessica just added another gig to her post-pop star career — that of the A-list mom. Just this week, she welcomed her first child, Maxwell Drew, into the world. We expect she'll use that experience to re-launch herself yet again. We should expect fashion lines for stylish toddlers. And who wouldn't want to see a reality show that follows the new mom and her family?

It seems that, like Simpson, Spears might be looking to take a break from music for a moment. Having already given birth to two sons and tried her hand at the worlds of fashion and beauty, Spears is now a frontrunner to judge "X Factor." Her own experiences in the industry certainly make her the perfect candidate to give advice on the ups and downs of pop superstardom. She's experienced both with the entire world watching. While Spears' other projects (clothing line, fragrances) have generally been overshadowed by her music career, this rumored gig might be the first one to take the attention away from her pop fame while using it for all it's worth.

Spears is probably up for the gig because she is basically the heir to the Madonna legacy. She truly understands how to be a pop star. And the rumors that she might join Simon Cowell on the show seem to be intriguing Spears' critics and non-devotees more than anything she's done in the past few years. Spears might have found her perfect next chapter.

Right now, it's unclear how these new career paths will shape the future for Simpson and Spears — musically and otherwise. But, as has always been the case for them, no one doubts they will redefine what it means to be a female pop star. They are women who aren't willing to go quietly into the night. For Spears and Simpson, it seems they want it all or nothing. And, who can blame them?

What would you like to see Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson do next? Share your thoughts below!