Britney Spears was a victim of climate change at the VMAs, though of a different variety than that controversial science of global warming Al Gore warned of. As the perennial star took to the stage to symbolically shake off the doldrums of a career slump and rise to her former iconic status, something unexpected happened that was not her fault and beyond her control. It seemed a certain act had been worked into the schedule. This was an act Britney was going to have to follow.
Beyonce Knowles was invited for a surprise performance at the VMAs. That performance was nothing short of revolutionary. There was a fire in Bey’s voice, and her impassioned Lemonade medley seemed nothing short of a 16-minute battle cry. Even the TV audience was tweeting that they needed a break after that spectacular emotionally charged extravaganza.
Britney Spears didn’t have time to adapt or make changes to her VMAs act. She couldn’t even give the audience a much-needed intermission to reflect. She had to perform her own act as planned. The set was already prepared, and the dancing choreographed. There was no chance of pulling off any last minute changes, so now it was time for her to introduce something completely different than what everyone had just witnessed. As the Daily Beast explained, what Beyonce had just done was unparalleled.
“Beyoncé delivered what should rightfully be considered one of the greatest awards show performances of all time. If nothing else, the sheer scale of it cements her as music’s most ambitious artist.”
It is Beyonce’s year, obviously, with eight new VMA Moonmen to join the 13 she already had, what more could she want? So what did Britney do? She did her best, under the circumstances. She had G-Eazy to back her up a bit, and it was good.
Britney Spears hit the VMAs with her gravity-defying wardrobe and hot sexy moves. She gave her performance everything she could. She was nothing short of determined to blow the socks off that MTV audience. Ms. Spears knows it is time to return to her former glory. Britney had the right stuff, but first, she had to put the audience through a full-scale climate change. Vox called it a” jarring shift.”
“[Britney Spears’ performance was] a jarring shift after Beyoncé’s (literally) incendiary performance almost brought Madison Square Garden down by sheer force of will.”
Another publication to use the word “jarring” was the Daily Beast, who called the transition from Beyonce to Britney at the VMAs a “jarring contrast.”
“It’s unfortunate that Beyoncé performed right before her, thus inviting comparisons. But the jarring contrast in the quality and difficulty of their performances raises a question about the kind of entertainment Spears offers and, however, nostalgic we might say we are for it, whether there’s still a place in the evolving pop landscape for it.”
To be sure, Beyonce took a huge risk when she conceived Lemonade, and especially when she performed Foundation at the Superbowl. For pop stars, developing a statement piece is always a risk, especially if it involves impassioned content about a controversial subject. Lemonade was controversial and a little shocking, but for most of the audience, the shock factor has evolved into awe. Beyonce’s performance was awe inspiring.
Britney Spears pulled off a flawless performance of “Make Me” from her album, Glory, but was it enough? It seems that the VMA gods had plotted against poor Britney by scheduling the blond vixen’s comeback performance immediately after Beyonce’s “Formation,” which proved a strange contrast to Spears’ coquettish moves. Still, as Vox expressed so well, Ms. Spears did what she could.
“Britney’s a professional; she did her job.”
Britney Spears was forced into a situation that provoked an unfavorable comparison with Beyonce at the VMAs, but she handled the situation like a pro.
[Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images]