Britney Spears returned to the MTV Video Music Awards in a major way last night (Sept. 7) in Los Angeles, getting the last laugh after a disastrous 2007 appearance by winning the first three awards of her career: female video, pop video and video of the year for “Piece of Me.”
Spears was the talk of the 2007 VMAs for all the wrong reasons following her lethargic performance of “Gimme More” as part of the opening segment. But she was a picture of professionalism and poise this time around, as she introduced the show and appeared in a comedic pre-show sketch with actor Jonah Hill. She also guested in several promo ads with host Russell Brand.
“Wow. I’m in shock right now. I was not expecting this!,” Spears said after accepting the video of the year trophy, the biggest prize of the night. Chris Brown won male video of the year for “With You,” while the Pussycat Dolls won for best dancing in a video with “When I Grow Up” and Linkin Park took home best rock video for “Shadow of the Day.”
Lil Wayne won best hip-hop video for “Lollipop,” while German rock outfit Tokio Hotel upset Jordin Sparks, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift to win the fan-voted best new artist honor.
Rihanna was the first performer at the 25th anniversary event, racing through “Disturbia” surrounded by dancers seemingly straight out of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” The Jonas Brothers performed “Love Bug” on the Paramount Studios New York back lot, while a shirtless Lil Wayne was joined by Leona Lewis and T-Pain for a medley of his hits.
Wayne later joined Kid Rock for his recent smash “All Summer Long,” and Christina Aguilera unveiled her new single, “Keeps Gettin’ Better” in a medley with a steamy transformation of her early hit “Genie in a Bottle.”
Kanye West closed the show by performing a new song, “Love Lockdown,” expected to appear on his next album. The as-yet-untitled set is due by year’s end via Def Jam.
Other performances, several of which took place on sets outside on the Paramount lot, were turned in by T.I. (first on his current Hot 100 No. 1 hit “Whatever You Like” and then with Rihanna on the new “Live Your Life”), Paramore, Perry (covering Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”) and Pink.
English comedian Brand peppered his commentary with off-color jokes about the Jonas Brothers’ virginity, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s family life and Madonna’s alleged affair with baseball star Alex Rodriguez. Presenter Jordin Sparks took exception to Brand’s repeated joking about the Jonas Brothers’ purity rings, saying that “not everybody wants to be a slut.”