Monday, September 10, 2007

MTV Video Music Awards: The (De)Evolution of Britney Spears

When Todd e-mailed me today to ask me to do a little writeup on last night's MTV Video Music Awards, I had to make what I feel is a depressing confession: I didn't watch them. Yes, the girl who loves High School Musical has to finally admit she's just too old for MTV. I used to love the channel (and the VMAs in particular) but the sad state of modern pop music and the downward spiral of MTV programming in general has pretty much kept me off the channel completely for a few years, save guilty pleasure shows like The Hills.

Just because I didn't watch the entire awards show, however, doesn't mean I didn't tune in to the first five minutes to see the much anticipated Britney Spears "comeback" performance. I am a fan of Britney's catchy, meaningless pop music and a former huge fan of her in general. And I mean, a very, very huge fan. An "I own Crossroads" size fan. Her downward spiral has cured me of much of the fangirly nature of my love, but I will always hold a soft spot in my heart for her.

That's why last night's train wreck of a performance made me so sad. Say what you will about Britney's talent (or lack thereof), but when she's at her peak the girl can put on a hell of a performance. Yes, she lip syncs. I don't care, I'm watching for the dancing and the sexy. I don't buy songs like "Toxic" because she can sing like an angel, but because they make me want to get up off my ass and shake it around the room like a maniac.

I thought it would be interesting to look at all of her VMA appearances over the years and see just where everything started to go wrong.. I think it might have been in the 2003 clip right when Justin Timberlake smirks at the camera about 30 seconds before she kisses Madonna on the mouth. That smirk says "Y'all, I know this girl and this is SO not going to last. In two years she's going to be at home licking Cheeto dust off her fingers watching me become the biggest pop star in the world." But judge for yourself:

1999 - ...Baby One More Time

Despite being saddled by a terrible remix of a great song (don't even play, you know it's a good song), Britney still manages to put on a decent show here in her first official VMA performance. Note the energy in the dancing for later comparison.

2000 - Oops! ...I Did It Again

This is the iconic Britney performance, the one that cemented her as the world's biggest pop star. I remember watching this live (it was pre-Tivo) and being absolutely mesmerized when she ripped off her suit to reveal she was basically wearing Bedazzler jewels as clothing. I consider myself a straight girl, but when she gets down and dances on the floor at the end? I might have turned a little bit gay. I proceeded to watch this performance every time the show was re-aired over the next week.

2001 - I'm A Slave 4 U

Coming off of a career-making performance in 2000, this one has a very slight hint of desperation about it. It's like she was sitting around and said, "How do I top being basically naked on stage? I know -- LIVE ANIMALS!" It's still a great performance and has probably my favorite choreography of any of her VMA appearances, but it doesn't have that magic the "Oops" performance did.

2003 - Like a Virgin/Hollywood (with Madonna, Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliot)

You can basically boil this entire performance down to what happens at 3:56 - THE KISS. Cue thousands of DVR's rewinding and freeze framing to see if there was tongue involved. (I checked -- just a little bit.) Madonna has always known how to generate controversy, and this is probably one of her more blatantly manufactured attempts to stay in the public eye by creating a spectacle. At the time it seemed to me like Britney was dumbly being used by Madonna and just went along because DUDE, IT'S MADONNA, but now I think Britney just didn't give a crap and wanted to shock people as well. (Check out Snoop Dogg at the end. I'm pretty sure he's thinking: "Am I just more high than normal, or is this some seriously stupid shit?") Despite all of my slagging, I actually thought this performance was pretty enjoyable. I don't know. I confuse myself sometimes.

2007 - Gimme More

Embarrassingly bad hair weave? Check. Scared, deer-in-headlights look? Check. Some sort of Xanex-like drug in her system? Check. If Britney wanted to make a comeback, this definitely was not the way to do it. She looks like an in-shape version of Anna Nicole Smith circa her reality show. I sort of dig the song (it's been spinning on my iPod all week) but her performance is just so lackluster and affected. For someone known for her dancing, she dances about as well as I do in this clip. Hint: I'm not a very good dancer. One thing I will say is that unlike many other bloggers out there, I'm not going to go insane and call her fat. I think she looks pretty fantastic, actually.

What do you guys think? Is her career over? Remember, America loves a good redemption story...but they might love the downward spiral more.


Todd said...

Her redemption will come in the form of one of her kids having THE dance smash of 2024.

Also, how weird is it that we're too old for MTV? I mean, I'm only 26.

Carrie said...

You're old at heart. ;)

I'm 30, I have an excuse -- I think I am officially out of their demo now. How weird is it, though, that I can enjoy so many teen-themed things yet not be able to watch more than 10 minutes of anything on MTV at a time? It's like I turn it on and turn into my Grandma: "what's this racket?" "why is everyone dressed so trampy?" "why is everything so fast it's HURTING MY HEAD!"

Justin said...

I am 30 also recently and I have felt too old for MTV for YEARS.


Todd said...

MTV has narrowed its demographic so much that they are EXCLUSIVELY chasing 12-24 year olds, and 12-16 and 20-24 feel too young and too old for the network respectively.

I was a little sad when I turned 25 and was no longer in their demographic, but the last show I watched regularly on the network was The Osbournes, though Libby had a flirtation with Newlyweds.

Bianca Reagan said...

I like the song, too, carrie. I have problems. Not the least of which is that my computer is too slow to process the audio and the picture at the same time. I think the real problem is that everyone in the world with internet access is watching that trainwreck right now on YouTube.

If you're feeling too old for MTV, I suggest you check out MTV Hits, MTV Jams and VH1 Soul. They play videos all day long, including performances from classic MTV awards shows. Very cool.

Libby said...

That was one of the most depressing things I've seen in a long time.
It's like she doesn't even know where she is.
She needs some help.

Sarah said...

'That smirk says "Y'all, I know this girl and this is SO not going to last. In two years she's going to be at home licking Cheeto dust off her fingers watching me become the biggest pop star in the world."'

My favorite part of the review.

It was extremely sad. I wanted her to really have a good performance, because I like the single as well. I knew that the majority of bloggers and media were going to mention her body, and that made me mad. I think she looked good, I just wish she would have had a really polished look with actual clothing.

Mac G said...

The song is awful, she looks wooden and out of shape. She could always dance but never really was a good singer. Here she could not dance or even try to lip sync. Her career has been over for years and the only thing that keeps her in the news is her circus like personal life.