Detroit Free Press - Detroit, Mich.
Date: Sep 10, 1999
Start Page: D.1
Section: WEEKEND

Somebody's listening to her.

Britney Spears, who performs in a sold-out show at Detroit's State Theatre on Sunday night, has sold six million copies of her debut album, "...Baby One More Time."

Spears, whose music is often heard on such contemporary hits radio stations as WDRQ-FM (93.1), has had three No. 1-requested videos on MTV this summer.

But ask around and it's difficult to get anybody to admit loving her. The 17-year-old Spears, whose music is geared to pre-teen girls, has been critically panned for her "unremarkable vocals" and bland styling (the Free Press gave her album a one-star review). She's also drawn flak for what some critics call her inappropriate grown-up posturing, including a provocative appearance on the cover of the April 15 issue of Rolling Stone magazine. Spears' music is geared to pre-teens, but she is also attracting late teens and young adults.

They like her a lot.

The 17-year-old bubblegum-pop singing sensation from Louisiana has more than a hundred Internet shrines dedicated to her -- and about half a dozen against her.

Chances are a number of her adoring fans will crowd Hudson's at Oakland Mall in Troy on Sunday trying to sneak a peek at her. Spears will be there from 1 to 3 p.m. signing autographs (but not performing).

Lauren Cavanaugh says she will be there. Just don't tell her friends -- they might make fun.

The 16-year-old South Lake High School senior not only listens to Spears' music, she also memorizes the singer's dance steps and video routines.

"I have a love-hate relationship for Britney," Cavanaugh says. "I definitely like what she does. I love her songs ...but she does stuff that's not appropriate for her age -- like the Rolling Stones cover. I mean, she was half-naked!"

But if Cavanaugh could meet her, she'd jump at the chance.

"My friends give me a hard time about liking her," she giggles. "I just really wish I was doing what she was doing. I love to sing and dance like her."

The guys adore Spears as well.

Brad Gula of Memphis, Mich., has erected a Web site in her honor. His friends laugh -- the ones that he's even dared to tell -- but he loves her.

"She is just a unique person in the sense that she's very real," he says. "She talks like a human being and she's very attractive."

Gula, 15, cruises the Web for information about Spears; he searches through magazines and he scans newspapers. Anything he finds he puts up on his site,

"She's got a great personality and she's a great role model for kids," he says. "She's on top of the world."

Gula says he isn't even a pop music fan. He listens to alternative music. But when Spears first got big a year ago, she stole his heart.

Eddie Raffoul agrees. It was the first time he caught sight of the singer. Raffoul, a 17-year-old senior at South Lake High School, is going to her concert this weekend.

"Britney -- she's hot. She's very good-looking. Everything about her is nice," he laughs.

He and three other friends plan to get to the State Theatre about three hours before it starts -- their tickets are on the main floor of the standing-only hall.

"Basically, we're going to try to push our seats way up to the front," he says. "We're going to try and get in as close as we can so that Britney can see us, too."

KELLEY L. CARTER can be reached at 313-222-8854 and