Oh, baby, baby, Britney Spears is taking the VMAs stage again!
After a nine-year performance hiatus, the “Make Me” singer confirmed with a special promo video on Tuesday that she will indeed be hitting the stage to perform at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards. In the clip, which she shared on Instagram, Spears is heard praising the annual television spectacle as a yellow snake crawls over notable items from her past VMA performances (the snake itself is a throwback to her infamous 2001 performance of the club hit, “I’m A Slave 4 U”).
“The VMAs don’t just give you a stage,” Spears relays at the start of the promo. “They give you a story.”
As the Britney Army now prepares itself for the latest chapter of that story, it’s only right to turn back the pages, so to speak, and remind ourselves of Spears’ past offerings at the VMAs. Here’s a ranking of all of her VMAs performances, to date.
Honorary Mention: 2007 MTV Video Music Awards (“Trouble”/”Gimme More”)
Of course, if we’re going to talk about every time — no pun intended — Britney took the VMA stage, we’re going to have to touch on her most controversial appearance. To be as fair as possible, her 2007 turn won’t be ranked, but considering she was able to get on stage at all during that period in her life, you’ve got to give Spears respect. It may not have been her best, but in reality, she wasn’t at her best.
5. 1999 MTV Video Music Awards (“… Baby One More Time”)
Considering her level of star power then, you might find it surprising that Britney was only given a limited amount of time for her first-ever VMA performance. Sharing the slot with *NSYNC, who pulled off an energetic, bass-laden rendition of “Tearin’ Up My Heart,” Britney still managed to hold her own and tear up the stage — and in tight leather pants, too!
A sad note: As mentioned by Billboard, one of Britney’s dancers in this performance, longtime choreographer Andre Fuentes, passed away in 2016 at the age of 40. Thank you for sharing your talents with us, sir. May you dance with the angels.
4. 2003 MTV Video Music Awards (“Like A Virgin”/”Hollywood” w/ Madonna, Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliott)
Now before anyone attacks me for placing this iconic VMA moment in this position, ask yourself this: What exactly do you remember about this performance? If your first answer is “the kiss,” then you’ve proven my point. While taking the stage with two pop contemporaries and a hip-hop superstar is no small feat, it’s not really recalled for anything other than the lip lock between Britney and Madonna.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t some exceptional aspects, however. Hearing the princess of pop cover another of the Queen of Pop’s biggest hits (the first being “Open Your Heart” from the movie Crossroads in 2002) was amazing, and the theme of the performance — a send-up to Madonna’s star-making 1984 rendition of the sensual track — was pulled off perfectly. And yes, the kiss was pretty awesome, too.
3. 1999 MTV European Music Awards (“… Baby One More Time”/”(You Drive Me) Crazy”)
Although it didn’t take place on American shores, this mash-up of the first two tracks off of the …Baby One More Time album still technically counts as a VMA performance, albeit at a Dublin-based ceremony.
Starting up with a jazzy, hip-hop remix of her first No. 1 Billboard hit, Britney literally slides into a hyper-mix of “Crazy” that includes a rap verse (seriously!), inflated aliens (again, seriously!) and a back flip that would ultimately become a staple of her CrazyY2K Tour, the melodic excursion that capped off the promotion of her first album, while leading to the second, Oops!… I Did It Again.
2. 2000 MTV Video Music Awards (“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”/”Oops!… I Did It Again”)
No one was remotely prepared for what Britney brought to Radio City Music Hall for the 2000 VMAs ceremony — not even Britney herself.
Beginning with a sultry rendition of the 1965 Rolling Stones classic, Spears descends a spiraling staircase while rocking a glimmering tuxedo. Unfortunately, her outfit, which was worn as a tearaway to reveal a nude-illusion body suit, began to fall apart just moments after she made her way to center stage. Ever the professional, Spears undressed early and literally shook off what could have been an enormous flub, and instead, pulled off a performance that changed everyone’s perception of the “not that innocent” pop starlet.
However, as great as that was, it was nothing compared to what is arguably her best Video Music Awards performance ever…
1. 2001 MTV Video Music Awards (“I’m A Slave 4 U”)
… and it almost never happened.
The jungle-themed set that transformed Britney from a girl to the woman — pun intended — was nearly nixed as Spears was deathly afraid of the yellow python she was meant to wear around her neck.
“Nobody realized that that was such a source of absolute fright for her,” Britney’s former assistant, Felicia Culotta, shared with Contact Music in 2003. “The snake [came] in this gigantic ice chest and she [looked] over at me and she [said], ‘I can’t do it.'”
Obviously, Britney was eventually able to get over that fear. And for the record, the python has a name: It’s Banana. You’re welcome.
Alright, Inquisitr readers, it’s your turn. Do you agree with this ranking? Are you excited to see Britney Spears take the stage at the 2016 Video Music Awards? Hit up the comments and let us know what you think!
The 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, live from Madison Square Garden, will air Sunday, August 28.
[Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images]