By the end of the tour, Britney decided it was time for a break and annouced that she was taking a six month rest from her career before coming back full swing in August of 2003 where she shared the well documented 'Madonna' lesbian kiss at the MTV Music Awards. Britney appeared with Christina Aguilera performing the song "Like a Virgin" and both girls were later joined by Madonna.
Britney parted ways with Max-Martin, her producer since her soda-pop years, shortly before the release of her fourth album, 'In the Zone' in November of 2003. Feeling the need to appeal to a more mature audience, Britney chose names like Moby and R. Kelly and the less known, RedZone. Britney exerted even more of her own style of music by co-writing a total of eight tracks and help produce some of her own matieral for the first time.
'In the Zone' flew to the top of the US charts the first week, selling near 610,000 copies which made Britney the only female in music history to have her first four albums reach to number one. Despite its popularity, 'In the Zone' earned her yet more critical reviews. Stylus Magazine rated it a D, blamed her career choices and were quoted saying, "Ultimately, In the Zone suffers greatly from Britney's uneasy transition from teen tart to sexually powerful woman. Had Britney been in charge of her career direction instead of mercilessly prostituted by her management, she might have been able to produce something with some semblance of musical vision."
The Guardian gave it a more favourable review by comending her on her efforts saying "Unlike previous Britney albums, In the Zone has no filler and no shoddy cover versions, just 57 varieties of blue-chip hit-factory pop. There is southern hip-hop, deep house, Neptunes-style R&B, the ubiquitous Diwali beat and, most importantly, oodles of Madonna."