With claims that MTV would have happily pulled the plug if Britney Spears had been too bad, the question this morning seems to be "how bad would that have had to have been?"
TMZ wasn't impressed:
The former Mrs. Federline sleep-walked her way through a critical performance of her new single, "Gimme More," and camera pans to stars like Rihanna, 50 Cent and Diddy showed the crowd wasn't really feeling it. Britney herself didn't look too enthused by the ordeal ... even seeming to forget the lyrics to her own song!
The New York Times wasn't any kinder:
Sure enough, when it was over, Sarah Silverman, the host, smiled cruelly and said, “She is amazing! I mean, she is 25 years old and she’s already accomplished ... everything she’s going to accomplish in life.”
Even the BBC decided she was still "embattled":
Billed as "her long-awaited comeback", the 25-year-old gave a lacklustre rendition of her new single Gimme More.
She moved slowly around the stage while appearing to mime to a backing track.
It is possible, judging by her awkward behaviour, that the bra and knickers wasn't a costume, merely that she forgot to put the rest of her clothes on? It's possible that Spears is waking up this morning thinking "god, I had that dream where I go on the MTV awards naked, and forget the words to the song..."
MTV, of course, tries to spin the performance:
With images of chandeliers floating on the screen behind her mixed with silhouettes of women befitting the intro reel to a James Bond flick, Spears walked across the stage as her scantily clad dancers worked a series of stripper poles scattered throughout the room. And then, after all that hype, a relieved-looking Brit gave a shy smile, whispered "thank you" and exited after a low-key performance that was quickly overshadowed by the likes of high-energy sets from the Foo Fighters, Chris Brown, Kanye...
"literally stepped over the back of a male dancer", eh? We love the way that even MTV gives up and ends with a coded "still, it got better after that..."
The real excitement of the evening was the fight between Kid Rock and Tommy Lee, which we suspect might have been staged to try and convince the world that they're not the same person. Apparently the loser had to take back Pamela Anderson.
MTV isn't sure if it should pretend the fight never happened, or seize on it as an example of just how anything can happen at their crazy, crazy awards. Of course, really, it shouldn't be pretending that Kid Rock and Lee didn't fight, it should be pretending that they weren't even there. Come on, MTV - this is meant to be the glitzy, zeitgeist-sparkling taste of now, and the audience is made up of the likes of Kid Rock and Tommy Lee?
Talking of which, how did the "all-new MTV awards" fare as spectacle? You'll recall that in the run up, MTV bosses were insisting that this was going to be a year zero, with innovative side performances accessible through the website. The New York Times wasn't impressed:
One of this show’s selling points was that there was less of it: two hours, instead of the usual three. And the channel promised to cut down on the usual endless reruns; “Happening once and only once,” the commercials kept announcing, with a hint of desperation.
Online, you could hang out in a virtual lounge, or read breathless blog posts and celebrity text messages. (One missive: “Hey this is tom from plain white ts! Were getting all dressed up right now for the awards! Wish us luck!!!”) More than a quarter-century after MTV made radio stations seem old-fashioned, it’s funny to watch the channel’s executives grapple with new media.
In effect, then, they sucked the heart out the event.
The inevitable winners-in-full, then:
Monster Single of the Year Winner
Rihanna f/ Jay-Z "Umbrella"
Quadruple Threat of the Year Winner
Best Collaboration Winner
Beyoncé f/ Shakira "Beautiful Liar"
Male Artist of the Year Winner
Female Artist of the Year Winner
Best Group Winner
Fall Out Boy
Best New Artist Winner
Gym Class Heroes
Video of the Year Winner
Rihanna f/ Jay-Z "Umbrella"
Best Choreography Winner
Justin Timberlake "My Love" Choreographer: Marty Kudelka
Best Direction Winner
Justin TImberlake "What Goes Around....Comes Around" Director: Samuel Bayer
Best Editing Winner
Gnarls Barkley "Smiley Faces"Editor: Ken Mowe