When followers ponder whether Britney Spears ever talked about her troubling experiences with fame in her early music, “Lucky” is often the primary track some deliver up. They’re desperate to level out the narrative of a beloved starlet who “cries, cries, cries” behind closed doorways. Or possibly they are saying “I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman,” the seminal coming-of-age ballad wherein Spears acknowledges by track that “life doesn’t always go my way.”
But neither of those songs, launched in 2000 and 2001, respectively, supply a very private understanding of Spears, on condition that they weren’t written by her.
Spears’ first significant songwriting credit score got here with “Everytime,” the 2004 single from her fourth studio album, “In the Zone.”
“Everytime” is a haunting ballad that was ultimately paired with an much more unsettling music video — one which appears to depict the psychological results of being hounded by paparazzi and trapped in an sad relationship.
But the story round this Guy Sigsworth-produced track is much more dramatic than many Spears followers could have realized, on condition that Spears’ cowriter — Annet Artani — mentioned she was almost erased from the track’s historical past.
“I don’t want to get crucified,” Artani, a former pal and backup singer of Spears, instructed Insider throughout a latest name. “We all, at one point in our life, do something that is completely out of character. That doesn’t mean that that’s who we are.”
Artani first spoke with Insider in 2019 earlier than the Free Britney motion shone a highlight on the singer’s conservatorship, which she’s been dwelling underneath since 2008.
Our dialog on the time was targeted on the untold story of how “Everytime” was written and the dramatic falling out the 2 had after Artani mentioned Spears’ group appeared intent on slicing Artani’s identify from the legacy of the track.
During that telephone name, and once more after we spoke final week, Artani expressed a wide range of feelings that come up when she thinks again to how her intense friendship with Spears abruptly stopped.
“I mean, was I hurt? Yeah, I was a young girl,” she mentioned. “That was my first experience of my friend essentially trying to bully me out of getting credit for a song we sat next to each other and wrote with our hearts when we were sobbing over men.”
She added: “It’s one of the most significant experiences of my life, unfortunately.”
The 45-year-old singer and kids’s ebook writer was reluctant to dwell on her detrimental reminiscences. Instead, Artani eagerly recalled the sweeping pleasure of being in her 20s and touchdown the gig of a lifetime as a background vocalist for Spears’ 2002 “Dream Within a Dream Tour.”
The 12 months main as much as Artani’s friendship with Spears was a chaotic time for the pop star. While in the midst of the 69-stop tour, Spears, then 21, had a public breakup with Justin Timberlake, her equally well-known boyfriend on the time.
Meanwhile, Artani had began a romantic relationship with the tour’s musical director for the band, Dan Kenney, she mentioned.
When the tour got here to an finish in Mexico City 9 months later, Artani mentioned Spears went out of her option to inform the backup singer what a cute couple she and Kenney made.
“I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s not going to last. He ditched me,'” Artani mentioned she instructed Spears. “So she was like, ‘Well, you can hang out with me.’ I didn’t expect her to actually hang out with me. But we did and we bonded.”
After the tour ended, Artani was — as she predicted — freshly single, she mentioned. The two singers exchanged telephone numbers, and earlier than Artani knew it, she was attending New York Fashion Week with the pop star, she mentioned. Next, they flew to Italy, the place the 2 spent a number of days at Donatella Versace’s mansion on Lake Como.
“We were just doing silly stuff like making videos, dancing around to Madonna,” Artani mentioned throughout our 2019 name.
The two turned so shut spending just about every single day collectively, Artani mentioned, that they even shared a mattress at evening.
“And then at the end of all of that, we get to her house in LA — and I’ve been writing songs since I was 6 years old on the piano — but I sat at her piano and started writing ‘Everytime,'” Artani mentioned. “She sat next to me, and we basically wrote the song together.”
She added: “We cried through the whole process. It was cathartic and a bonding experience.”
Timberlake wrote in his 2018 autobiography that he felt “scorned” and “pissed off” when he sat down to put in writing “Cry Me a River” after his breakup with Spears. The single debuted in 2002 and it took no time in any respect for the world to note the track’s connection to Spears.
“That was such an important relationship for her,” Artani mentioned. “The magnitude of the press and him putting his first album out and basically trashing her — the way it went down was really infantile. So I know that it was really hurting her.”
Spears wasn’t actively engaged on an album on the time, and Artani mentioned she had no expectations for the track to go anyplace. For her, it simply felt like one other factor she and Spears have been doing collectively as buddies, she added.
When “Everytime” was launched two years later, many picked up on the way it gave the impression to be Spears’ personal response to her break up with Timberlake. But few knew the track’s hyperlink to Spears’ former pal.
Artani recalled going with Spears to a recording studio someday because the singer and her group started piecing collectively her upcoming album, “In the Zone.” The pop star then requested Artani if she minded taking part in “Everytime” for different individuals, Artani mentioned.
“In my mind, I’m like, ‘She’s crazy,'” Artani mentioned. “And she was saying stuff like, ‘Oh, my God, we should tour together. You could open up my tour,’ and like I’m 24 years old, and you’re saying this to me? I kept thinking, ‘Holy crap, this is nuts.'”
It was necessary for Artani to not repeat what she noticed many do in Spears’ orbit that “bothered” her, she mentioned.
“I didn’t want to be there to be a yes man or to use her,” Artani mentioned. “I didn’t like that about a lot of the people in her immediate world.”
She added: “But it’s the story of every person before her where everyone is on your payroll, and they all have to kiss your ass no matter what happens.
“That was actually the start of the decline since you’re not dwelling in actuality … She actually was dwelling in a bubble.”
Artani said she and Spears parted ways after the team around the pop singer tried to erase her from the song credits of “Everytime.” It didn’t make sense to Artani, who said she never saw Spears “be imply to anybody.” Artani said she believed someone — or multiple people — in Spears’ circle was “manipulating her.”
“I wasn’t going to serve their function,” Artani said during our more recent call. “So I used to be ushered out. Like I used to be a part of a cog in a machine that was like, ‘Yeah, you are not going to work for us, so we will X you out now.'”
“Things simply modified,” she said in 2019. “Her telephone quantity modified. She left me a extremely bizarre message saying, ‘See you round.’ It was weird.”
The way Artani spoke about being “ushered” out of Spears’ inside circle was just like different individuals’s tales which have turn into public prior to now few years.
Felicia Culotta, the pop star’s longtime assistant, was as soon as the singer’s shut companion. In The New York Times’
documentary episode “Controlling Britney Spears,” Culotta mentioned she “wasn’t allowed to have a conversation” with Spears “without having other people present” after the conservatorship was in place.
In a latest
documentary, “Britney vs Spears,” a director named Andrew Galley (who labored on an MTV particular with Spears in 2008) additionally mentioned it appeared like his shut friendship with the singer was deemed unacceptable by the group in command of her day-to-day life.
“This was coming after I was her date for her brother’s wedding,” Gallery, who hasn’t spoken with the singer since 2009, mentioned. “We had developed, I think, just a good trust. Shortly after that, I got removed.”
Artani instructed Insider: “I don’t think that they ever wanted her to have anybody truly, truly close to her that could be a good influence.”
While Artani’s expertise occurred a number of years earlier than Spears’ conservatorship was enacted in 2008, Artani mentioned even in these earlier years, she felt Spears was “very much like a young girl who doesn’t have a lot of freedom to just do whatever she wants.”
Artani recalled a supervisor, Andrian Adams, who was representing varied producers engaged on Spears’ album, instructed her there was a difficulty along with her writing credit.
“He said to me, ‘Well, the good news is it’s going to be the third single, and it’s going to end the album,'” Artani mentioned. “‘But the bad news is she says you didn’t write it.'”
Artani continued: “I went into complete shock. I said, ‘I don’t believe you.’ I was friends with this person. We spent months on end together.
“My mother and father solely knew the place I used to be as a result of they noticed me in Star journal paparazzi pictures. We mainly lived collectively. We cried collectively over these breakups and we bonded.”
Artani ultimately bought Spears on the telephone to speak about what occurred, however the background singer mentioned the dialog — that she’s “not going to repeat” — was so dangerous she “was literally bawling on the phone.” She added that Spears felt like an individual she did not “know or recognize.”
“I didn’t ever really want to believe that she would not want to give me credit for cowriting the song,” Artani mentioned throughout our most up-to-date name. “I didn’t believe that that’s who she was — at all.”
Artani mentioned she instructed Spears that she did not care in regards to the cash, one thing she reiterated to her supervisor. After that, the background singer let the managers and executives type out the crediting.
“In the end, they gave me my credit,” she mentioned.
Reps for Spears did not instantly reply to a request for remark.
Throughout our conversations, Artani repeatedly mentioned she had no want to “trash” Spears and mused in regards to the varied causes that her onetime pal had such a change in perspective when it got here to the track’s official launch on her album.
“To be clear, even after all these years, after all of that, I don’t believe in my heart of hearts that it came from her,” Artani mentioned. “Even though the words were coming out of her mouth that were threatening, I don’t believe … because I saw her be really manipulated by so many people.”
Artani added that “it’s clear in retrospect” that Spears was slowly beginning to act in contrast to herself — or no less than in contrast to the particular person Artani had met and befriended.
Still, “Everytime” was formally launched as a single in spring 2004, a number of months after Spears’ “In the Zone” album hit cabinets.
Artani’s short-lived friendship with Spears soured any preliminary enjoyment she may’ve gotten out of listening to her track performed on radio stations all over the world, she mentioned.
“I used to cry when it would come on the radio because I couldn’t handle it,” Artani mentioned. “I was just so upset by it.”
Artani mentioned she was “broke” on the time, dwelling in Los Angeles along with her boyfriend and a cat in a small condominium.
“I had no money at all, and then I got my first publishing check for it,” Artani mentioned. “I literally had no car, and I was on Sunset Boulevard just crying. My parents just said, ‘Get over it and get yourself a car.'”
And when “Everytime” got here on the radio inside her lately bought Hyundai Sonata, Artani mentioned she cried once more.
Now, Artani has been slowly studying studies of what Spears’ life has been like whereas dwelling underneath a conservatorship. She had stayed away from participating with information of the pop star, as a substitute selecting to seek out her personal path to success in a music profession, which included representing Greece within the Eurovision Song Contest.
Artani, who now lives in New York City along with her husband and son, mentioned whereas watching reveals like Hulu’s docuseries on the singer or Netflix’s documentary “Britney vs Spears,” she’s reassembling the variations of the pop star she knew — in addition to these of the individuals she had seen in her orbit. When she had a friendship with Spears, the singer’s mother and little sister have been all the time round.
“When I found out that her dad was a conservator, I was like, ‘What, why?'” Artani mentioned lately. “He wasn’t even in her life like that at all. I never saw him, honestly, and I heard nothing but negative things about his alcoholism.”
A rep for Spears’ dad, Jamie Spears, did not instantly reply to Insider’s request for remark. But based on courtroom paperwork obtained by the Los Angeles Times, Spears was the one who urged her father to hunt assist for his consuming.
Last week, Spears received a serious authorized victory when a decide dominated that her dad could be instantly suspended from her conservatorship after accusations of abuse.
What would Artani say to Spears now, if she had the possibility?
“I was hurt, obviously, at the time, but I believe in my heart of hearts that she’s a good person and a kind person,” Artani mentioned. “And I feel like she has been influenced by a lot of people in her life that were not necessarily looking out for her best interests.”
She added: “I really regret that I couldn’t just be there for her.”
“Everytime” was written simply earlier than Spears’ public picture started to crumble as tabloid headlines and paparazzi frenzies chipped away at it.
The lyrics she and Artani wrote collectively (“Every time I try to fly I fall/Without my wings I feel so small”) inform the story of a younger lady in ache — pleading and penitent and in want of compassion.
“I genuinely cared about her,” Artani mentioned. “I loved her as a human being. And I continue to support her. I just want her to get her life back. … She seems to be in a better place. I’m glad for her — she deserves that.”
Editor’s observe: This article has been up to date to mirror that the identify of the musical director for the band on the “Dream Within a Dream” tour was Dan Kenney, not Kevin Antunes.
If you as soon as had knowledgeable or private relationship with Britney Spears and want to share your story, you possibly can contact leisure correspondent Kim Renfro at firstname.lastname@example.org.