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Britney needs to put family over music

In the music industry, this is the time of year artists planning for a November or December record release put the finishing touches on up-and-coming albums. Musicians become quite busy planning promotional tours, television and radio appearances, autograph signings and other similar activities to cash in on the record sales that traditionally spike during the holiday season. Some artists will stick with their original release dates while others will push them back.

In my opinion, there is one person who should absolutely delay an album release: Britney Spears. The reasons go beyond her 2007 head shaving, consequent rehab stint and alleged attack on a photographer. It goes beyond her public divorce from ex-husband Kevin Federline and her dreadful “comeback” performance at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards – a performance so uninspiring and sluggish it should have aired on public access television instead of MTV. I don’t know if all the rumors about her wild partying and drinking are true, but one thing is certain – a judge is prepared to take her children away from her if she doesn’t clean up her act quickly. reported that Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon found that “there is a habitual, frequent and continuous use” of controlled substances and alcohol in Spears’ lifestyle, and ordered the pop star to undergo twice-weekly random testing if she wants custody of her children. She must also undergo individual counseling at least once a week and meet with a parenting coach for a minimum of eight hours a week in at least two weekly sessions.

The list gets longer. In addition to her custody battle, she was charged with two driving-related misdemeanors Friday. With all of this going on, when would she find time to meet the demands of an album release?

Spears’ saga boils down to her priorities. I don’t believe this is a situation where she can evenly divide her time and attention between family responsibilities and work. It will have to be the music or the kids. I know many people feel controversy equals cash, but that should not happen at the expense of one’s children.

Children are fragile and easily influenced; a laundry list of bad choices by an unwise parent can damage a child permanently. Somehow I doubt that Spears, who has sold 31 million records nationwide, will be hurting for cash if she puts her album on hold until she gets her personal matters resolved.

While she has fallen a long way from her status of about five years ago, she has not hit rock bottom – yet. She hasn’t become a sideshow act like the late Anna Nicole Smith – yet.

She is still young and has plenty of time to get things back on track before her kids are old enough to read the paper and comprehend their mother’s issues. Fans itching for Britney to make a new album should instead hope for her to get her personal act together first.

Spears should put the album on hold until November 2008, so she can redeem her pitiful VMA performance at next year’s show, provided they want her back – yes, it was that bad. Then she could create a positive buzz around her album and live happily ever after. Because it’s clear that 2007 was not her year.

Ryan Watson is a

graduate student in mass