Breakdowns, breakups, the so-so selling ''Blackout'': It's been a rough couple of years for the pop sensation turned tabloid queen. Can a new attitude and a big hit single make us forget toxic times? How her would-be comeback might play out
Britney Spears
Credit: Brian Ach/WireImage

On an upcoming MTV documentary that will promote her sixth CD, Circus, Britney Spears says that she’s ”been through a lot in the past two or three years.” No kidding. The superstar’s stream of mind-boggling personal problems has both damaged and frequently eclipsed her — wait, what did she do again? Oh, right! — singing career. But that could be changing. Due on Dec. 2 (her 27th birthday), Circus was whipped up by a team of A-list producers, including Nate ”Danja” Hills, who worked on Justin Timberlake‘s FutureSex/LoveSounds, and legendary pop auteur Max Martin, who wrote Britney’s 1998 breakthrough, ”…Baby One More Time.”

Circus comes just 13 months after Spears’ last CD, Blackout, which was supposed to be her big comeback following a four-year break from making albums. It ended up selling a relatively modest 913,000 copies. This time, Spears is hoping to get back to being a singer, not a tabloid freak. ”She’s about her business,” says Danja of her current work ethic. ”We’ll see plenty more of her for years to come.” But see her where? Atop the charts, or playing Vegas? Being funny ha-ha in a sitcom, or funny peculiar on TMZ? Going country, or just going off the rails? With Spears’ tangled past in mind — and a raft of experts on hand — we consider six possible futures for our favorite pop spectacle.

NEXT PAGE: Possible Future No. 1: The Big Comeback