—story by Bianca Betancourt (@bybiancabee)
The Billboard Award Show producers knew what they were doing when they booked Britney Spears to open the 2016 show this year. They practically built the entire event around her performance with it being the first year the show has been set in Las Vegas (Brit’s current home base while she completes her Piece of Me shows at Planet Hollywood.)
“Hey Brit, we want to give you our super prestigious Millennium Award! Will you come perform?”
“Sure, but I’m kind of really digging Vegas right now, so can you come to me?”
So they did. And so it was worth it.
Twitter was ablaze within a minute into her performance simultaneously praising and viciously critiquing Brit’s almost 8 minute long set. She opened her performance in a Janet Jackson-esque red leather trench coat with matching boots to her most recent number one “Work Bitch” and worked her way backwards into her hit collection.
She brought out "I Love Rock n Roll". She seductively shimmied on a larger than life guitar.
She performed songs that weren’t even singles from In the Zone (a fan favorite album). She did the "Slave 4 U" choreography including her legendary body rolls and all.
(*grabs tissue to blow nose from overwhelming gratitude*)
People were quick to praise her body and her hair flips but just as many chimed in on her “choppy” and “boring” choreography.
This is where it becomes truly emotionally stressful to be a Britney Jean Spears fan. We (the fans) remember important milestones and moments in Spears’ career that others very easily forget or overlook due to their lack of devotion to Spears. Every true Spears fans knows that over a decade ago in 2003 (wow, we’re old) back when Britney was about to release her hardest hitting choreography yet for “Outrageous” (a track off of In the Zone and a planned remixed collab with Snoop Dogg) she ended up blowing out her knee mid dancing—something that was captured on video and brings tears to true stans eyes just thinking about. I still wince watching the video—not just because of the pain she surely endured but also how that single moment changed how the world viewed Britney forever.
Then came K-Fed. Then motherhood. The divorce. 2007.
From then on it was an uphill battle for Britney, physically and emotionally, to return to the girl the world saw her as. But how could she really ever go back to being her 20-something year old self post the emotional scarring those years left her with? How could anyone? Why would she dance and perform with the same energy as when she first stepped onto the music scene when inside her heart was breaking—over her marriage, losing her children, and maybe losing her mind?
As she healed, the fans got performances here and there that increasingly got better as she regained her comfort on stage—and we loyally cheered her on even when deep down and we were less than impressed.
But this wasn’t one of those performances.
The outfit, her body, her energy, her smile—every song revealed a different detail that reminded us of “the old Britney”. All of the tweets and comments said "Britney's Back!" but they say that every time she makes a public appearance. I get it. We live for the nostalgia for #Danceney and the joy her perfectly executed moves brought to our pop music loving souls. But we don’t want her to be a retired version of herself that she no longer relates to. On the contrary, the only Britney we want is whoever she has in store for us come this new era of her life and career—where she can finally be whoever she wants to be.