Monday, September 10, 2007

Britney: no shirt, no skirt, no passion as VMAs end in scrapping

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:

Britney Spears aimed to bring the house down when she opened the MTV Video Music Awards, but instead she just looked like a house. A little too early for the skimpy outfits, perhaps?

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:
She didn’t disappoint: she was awful. Visibly nervous, she tottered around the stage, dancing tentatively and doing nothing that sounded or looked like real live singing. It’s too bad, because the song itself, “Gimme More,” is a pleasant surprise: brash and sleek and unapologetic. But Sunday’s performance in Las Vegas didn’t seem very likely to stem the tide of mean-spirited jokes about Ms. Spears.

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":
Embattled singer Britney Spears gave her first major performance in three years at the MTV Video Music Awards, dressed in a sparkly bra and briefs.

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:
After weeks of relentless hype and endless accounts of her preshow partying, Britney's much-discussed comeback performance opened with a close-up of the back of her head. Staring straight into the camera, she purred the beginning couplet to "Trouble," made famous by the ultimate Las Vegas legend, Elvis, "If you're lookin' for trouble, you came to the right place/ If you're lookin' for trouble, look right in my face." The camera panned out to reveal Spears decked out in Vegas-appropriate bling, including a black, jewel-encrusted bra and hot pants, black boots and nothing else. Sashaying in and out of dancers in skin-tight leather, Spears literally stepped over the back of a male dancer and got intimate with another.

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:
This year, MTV squeezed in more performances by cutting the performers down to size. Cameras cut to hotel parties that looked like more fun than the ceremony. Rihanna, Lil Wayne and Gym Class Heroes stopped by Fall Out Boy’s room; T-Pain dropped in on Kanye West; Cee-Lo (from Gnarls Barkley), Serj Tankian (from System of a Down) and Mastodon performed with Foo Fighters; 50 Cent and T.I. joined Justin Timberlake’s party.
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
Justin Timberlake

Best Collaboration Winner
Beyoncé f/ Shakira "Beautiful Liar"

Male Artist of the Year Winner
Justin Timberlake

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
Smiley Faces
Gnarls Barkley "Smiley Faces"Editor: Ken Mowe


Anonymous said...

She's certainly wandering around in a manner which would suggest she's miming to a song she doesn't actually know....which is worrying....but on the upside, she doesn't look overly fat, she looks a healthy normal size (but when was that ever considered "normal" in the spotlight of the US media?).

Laura Brown said...

Yeah, Anonymous, that's what I was thinking. I never thought I'd be leaping to Britney's defense, but ... "size of a house"? WTF, because you can't count her ribs? I can only conclude that no one has the slightest idea any more of what a healthy body is supposed to look like. This could explain the rise in both eating disorders and obesity.

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