Britney Spears may be the last name you expect to see on a list of top earners, but her comeback has become official; Forbes says she is the top female earner in the music industry for 2012, just ahead of Taylor Swift. Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry rounded out the top five on the list.
Spears has been carefully constructing her return to the spotlight after a breakdown, nasty court disagreements, allegations of drug abuse, and thousands of ugly headlines full of speculation and rumor. Her last album, Femme Fatale, and the subsequent tour plus a new gig on the enormously popular talent show "X Factor" and the release of a new perfume have given her bragging rights, as she brought in a whopping $58 million in the past year.
While some may be surprised at the top earner, longtime fans say they always knew she'd be back.
Music attorney Lori Landew, who helped sign Spears to her first record deal as a teenager, describes the star as one who knows how to work her fanbase.
“Britney has an electricity that connects with audiences on screen and off, and it is that intangible quality that always seems to leave her fans, old and new, breathless," she said.