The career of Britney Spears, Princess of Pop, can probably be best described as a roller coaster. The highs have been mindblowingly high (that Billboard Awards performance, y’all) and the lows have been, well, “holy shit she shaved her head and attacked her car with an umbrella” low. 2016 has definitely been a marquee year for Britney. She’s been killing it at her Vegas shows, she’s got a brand new (and very solid) album out, and now, after a nine year absence, she’ll be performing at MTV’s VMAs.
Britney’s VMA performances over the years have been the stuff of legend. For her debut performance in 1999, she teamed up with *NSYNC for a back-to-back performance of “Hit Me Baby Once More Time” and “Tearin’ Up My Heart.” In 2000, she came to slay with a mashup of The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Oops I Did It Again.” For 2001’s VMAs, she upped the ante again with a performance of “I’m A Slave 4 U” that featured a giant honest-to-god python. Then, of course, in 2003 there was her infamous performance of “Like A Virgin” and “Hollywood” with Madonna and Christina Aguilera. The performance also featured Missy Elliott, but of course most people don’t remember that because of, well, this:
It would be another four years before Britney would take the VMA stage again, but things would take a very different turn. Let’s rewind back to 2007, the last time Britney performed at the VMAs. It’s definitely not an understatement to say that 2007-2008 was an awful period for Britney, both for her career and her personal life. In February 2007 she had a very public meltdown (the previously mentioned hair-shaving incident), and was clearly struggling with dealing with her divorce from K-Fed and losing custody of her kids (also, you know, drugs). The VMA performance was supposed to be her triumphant return, but we all remember how that turned out. In case you don’t, there’s this video to remind you.
While the aftermath/disappointment was largely focused on her appearance (girl had two kids, that shit’s hard on anyone’s body), the more disturbing part was how disinterested and out of it she seemed. It took being committed to a psychiatric ward and having conservatorship over her and her assets appointed to her father to stop the downward spiral.
Given what happened the last time she took the VMA stage, it’s understandable that some people (Britney included) would be nervous about having her back. But there are a lot of reasons to believe that the 2007 fiasco will be a one-off, and this Sunday will be the comeback performance we all want it to be. Despite her recent disappointing appearance on Carpool Karaoke, 2016 has been full of solid performances so far. Her Vegas shows this year have been un-f*cking-real. Look no further than this side by side comparison between “Gimme More” in 2014 and 2016.
Gimme More: 2014 vs 2016 pic.twitter.com/p6KJAejWwB
— ㅤ (@emailmypussy) February 17, 2016
She’s also already nailed one awards show performance this year, when she received the Millennium Award at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards. Look at this and tell me it doesn’t blow your damn socks off.
We don’t know much about what (or who) the VMAs will include this year, aside from Rihanna receiving the Video Vanguard Award and Britney performing her new single “Make Me” featuring G-Eazy. Here’s hoping that this Sunday’s performance will be the one we’ve been waiting for, so we can all just forget that 2007 ever happened.