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Britney Spears: Gossip girl, pop queen

Yes, Britney Spears has made some poor decisions over the course of the past decade.

Her first marriage, to childhood friend Jason Alexander in 2004, lasted three days.

Her second, to backup dancer Kevin Federline (later that year!), lasted three years.

There was the photo in 2006 of her driving with her infant son on her lap. The stint in rehab in the winter of 2007. The awful MTV Video Music Awards performance that summer.

Yet Spears, now 29, has clearly made some great decisions in her career, too - even if putting a finger on exactly what they are is not so easy.

Whereas scandals and missteps have toppled the likes of Lindsay Lohan and Ashlee Simpson, Spears has always been able to bounce back.

While contemporaries like Mandy Moore and Jessica Simpson have fizzled out, Spears has been a steady hit-maker, with 21 Top 40 hits since 1998 and three top 10s in 2011 alone ("Hold It Against Me," "Till the World Ends," "I Wanna Go").

And although chief longtime rival Christina Aguilera has garnered more critical acclaim, it's Spears who is selling out arenas this summer, with Aguilera fans still smarting over the cancellation of her 2010 summer tour.

Again, it's difficult to say how she's managed to stay not just in the game, but on top of it. But here are 10 music videos worth watching on these YouTube links that provide a few clues.

"...Baby One More Time" (1998): The iconic pop video features an iconic image: 17-year-old Britney grooving to the beat in a Catholic schoolgirl outfit.

"Oops!... I Did It Again" (2000): Famous for her red latex catsuit and an offbeat "Titanic" reference.

"Toxic" (2004): A revenge fantasy that ends with Britney killing her unfaithful boyfriend, upstaged by quick shots of her writhing around in nothing but diamonds.

"Womanizer" (2008): Spears vamps it up, and gets oiled up; in the end, she dresses down a three-timing man.

"Circus" (2008): Silly yet fun, the singer messes about under the big top with lions, an elephant and flames.

"Gimme More" (2007): A brunette Britney gives the stripper pole a try. She fails, but most heterosexual men would call it an interesting failure.

"3" (2009): One of her most minimalistic videos is also one of her sexiest (it's about the joys of a menage atrois).

"Hold It Against Me" (2011): Despised because of its in-your-face product placement, adored because of a killer catfight between Britney and ... well, Britney.

"Till The World Ends" (2011): The product placement is gone and we're left with vintage Britney: sweaty, gyrating dancers, in this case, waiting for the apocalypse.

"I Wanna Go" (2011): Starts with an absurd press conference, ends with a bizarre reference to Michael Jackson's famous "Thriller" video, and lacks a key trademark of her videos: There's no dancing in it.

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