For ‘80s babies, Britney and Christina represent the ultimate fan face-off. Originally friends and co-stars on The Mickey Mouse Club reboot in the early ‘90s, by the decade’s end they were pitted against one another in the press and in the charts. On the surface, the comparisons were obvious. They were two blonde, ex-Disney stars turned pop upstarts, barnstorming Billboard with suggestive ear-candy like “…Baby One More Time” and “Genie in a Bottle.” But a close listen to their discographies reveals a stark contrast between Britney’s bubble-gum electro-pop and Christina’s R&B leanings. As they grew older, their individual expressions of sexuality made them lightning rods for controversy. Soon they were forced into a troubling cultural dichotomy. The Southern-born Britney was portrayed in the media as the “Good Girl” who publicly renounced sex before marriage. The NYC-raised Christina Aguilera made no such proclamations. Her public “Bad Girl” reputation was enhanced by songs like “Dirrty” that celebrated her sexual agency. For a time, the cultural firestorm threatened to overshadow their massive talent. Now both are recognized as beloved entertainment icons.
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