Happy 30th Birthday, Britney Spears!

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Today is the big day!

Our girl Britney Spears turns 30 today and we’re pretty excited! MTV News has been hosting a March Madness-style tournament, Britney Spears: 30 Videos For 30 Years, to find out which of Britney’s legendary clips is her fans’ favorite in the lead-up to her big birthday (we’ll have the results later, stay tuned!), so it’s been a pretty Britney-riffic two weeks in the MTV Newsroom. We wouldn’t have it any other way – the tournament gave us all an opportunity to revisit Britney’s classics and take a second look at her recent work, and I think I speak for the room when I say it was a pretty fantastic walk down memory lane.

Spears has released some of the most memorable videos of the last 12 years, songs that have provided a soundtrack for the big defining moments for a certain generation. I can remember being in high school and getting into heated debates about whether the video for “…Baby One More Time” was too sexy. (It wasn’t! But that Rolling Stone cover … Woo hoo!) When I turned 21 and hit the bar/club scene for the first time, “Toxic” was the white-hot song of the moment.

I can also remember how excited and relieved I was when she slammed back onto the scene with “Womanizer.” It was refreshing, after a very difficult couple of years, to see my old friend back and looking beautiful and healthy and surrounded by people who cared about her again. I know it’s kind of strange to actually worry about and be earnestly happy about the welfare of a celebrity, but such is the power of Britney Spears. She’s the perfect celebrity in that respect … she’s all things to all people.

Her return-to-form album – Circus – brought with it what I believe to be the best Britney song ever, “Unusual You.” It’s a haunting electro pop ballad about finding unexpected love and it’s fantastic. If you haven’t heard the song, I suggest you give it a listen. Two other non-singles you should check out if you are only a casual Britney fan: “Breathe on Me” and “Heaven on Earth.”

And things only continue to get better. Her most recent album, Femme Fatale, is probably her best, earning the best reviews of her multiplatinum career. (It also should have earned her some Grammy nominations, but I tackled that subject yesterday.) Spears is currently in Mexico on the final stretch of her successful tour behind the album. The tour wraps in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Dec. 10.

Britney is taking today off (she returns to the stage tomorrow night in Mexico City) and hopefully has big plans to celebrate her big day. So happy 30th birthday, Britney, and thanks for all the fun and fantastic tunes that made the last decade so much more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise!

What’s your favorite Britney memory? Tell us in the comments below!