With its title-track first single storming the pop airwaves, Britney Spears' sophomore album, Oops! ... I Did It Again, is poised to give her teen-pop peers some stiff competition.
But the singer has more than her picture on a lunch box and another hit album in mind.
"My ultimate goal is to be around for a really long time and be someone like Madonna or Janet Jackson," Spears, 18, said recently.
"Oops! ... I Did It Again" (RealAudio excerpt) recently set the record for being the most-added song at U.S. radio stations, breaking a mark set last month by labelmates 'N Sync's "Bye Bye Bye" (RealAudio excerpt). This week, "Oops!" is #38 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
Spears became an instant pop star last year with the release of her debut album, ... Baby One More Time, which is certified 11-times platinum.
To achieve longevity, the singer said she's sticking with the game plan that brought her this far.
"I'm just being myself, and hopefully that will come across and people will dig that," she said. "It all boils down to the music. That's what causes longevity."
But Spears' continuing appeal stems at least in part from her ability to change her image, according to Lori Majewski, entertainment director at Teen People magazine. "Where Christina Aguilera is like a Mariah Carey, Britney is like Madonna," she said. "She's changed her image a number of times over the last year."
Spears said although its first single sticks close to the style of her debut album, her new LP due May 16 has a more mature, R&B-flavored pop sound. She penned a tune for the album, the autobiographical "Dear Diary."
"It's not something I changed purposefully," Spears said of the album's sound. "It's just something that kind of changed on itself with me being older. My voice has changed a little bit and I'm more confident, and I think that comes across on the material."
One person who can testify to Spears' growth as a singer is producer Rodney Jerkins, who recorded a cover of the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" with her for the album. Jerkins said he was so impressed with Spears that he hopes to score full production duties for her next LP.
"I can't wait until she starts her next album, because I came in at the end," said Jerkins, who also has worked with R&B group Destiny's Child, boy band Backstreet Boys and pop star Michael Jackson. "I'm going to try my hardest to be the producer for the next album. I'd love to build an album with her, change her sound up."
Jerkins said Spears' version of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" will give fans a good jolt.
"It's going to shock everybody," he said. "It has flavors of the original, but it's a straight 2000 version new to the ear. Which I think is cool, because people who appreciate that song are going to love it. And I made it so new and young that the young kids that love Britney are going to love it. It's going to grab both a mature and young audience."
Spears will support her new album with a North American tour that kicks off June 15 in Charlotte, N.C., and ends Sept. 10 in West Palm Beach, Fla. The 48-city venture will temporarily keep the singer from pursuing other interests, such as acting or attending college.
"[Acting] is something I'd like to experience in the long run just to see what it's like," Spears said. "But I'm really focused on the next tour, and just this whole year is booked schedule-wise. I'll always go back to my music because that's where my heart is."
"I would really like to go to college to have some knowledge behind me," she added. "And actually it'd be probably good to have a break from the music industry for a while, just to rest. College is something I definitely want to do in the future."