LAS VEGAS – Somewhere, Kevin Federline is laughing.
An out-of-shape, out-of-touch Britney Spears delivered what was destined to be the most talked-about performance of the MTV Video Music Awards – but for all the wrong reasons. Kicking off the show Sunday night with her new single, “Gimme More,” Spears looked bleary and unprepared – much like her recent tabloid exploits on the streets of Los Angeles.
She lazily walked through her dance moves with little enthusiasm. It appeared she had forgotten the entire art of lip-synching; and, perhaps most unforgivable given her once-taut frame, she looked embarrassingly out of shape.
Even the celebrity-studded audience seemed bewildered. 50 Cent looked at Spears with a confused expression; Diddy, her new best friend, was expressionless.
The VMAs hoped to reinvent itself on Sunday. After suffering poor reviews and a decline in ratings over the last few years, MTV moved the show to Las Vegas’ Palms Casino, shortened the show from three hours to two, and changed the show’s setup to focus more on performances than awards.
To that end, Justin Timberlake and Timbaland, Kanye West, Fall Out Boy and the Foo Fighters hosted four separate suite parties, where many of the show’s performances were held.
Timberlake’s suite was packed with revelers, alcohol and eight lingerie-clad stripper types on raised platforms. When Timberlake accepted the Quadruple Threat of the Year award at his suite, the partygoers went crazy.
Timberlake said: “I want to challenge MTV to play more videos!” Then he was whisked away by bodyguards and disappeared.
Meanwhile, Rihanna won Monster Single of the Year for her ubiquitous hit “Umbrella,” and Beyonce and Shakira won Most Earthshattering Collaboration for “Beautiful Liar.”
Other performers were appearing on the show’s main stage, in front of an industry-only audience seated at tables, like at the Golden Globes.
The Palms’ casino floor, already glittering with slot machines and blinking lights, was transformed into a dazzling red carpet, as the likes of Jennifer Hudson, Kid Rock, Paris Hilton, Jennifer Garner and a newly blond Nelly Furtado were among those who posed for the cameras.
While Spears’ performance was a showcase, others were delivered in snippets: Akon crooned a bit of his “Smack That” before an award was announced, while the cameras zoomed in on performances from Fall Out Boy and the Foo Fighters midperformance in their suites, giving viewers the sense that they had happened upon an intimate concert.