All Britney Spears needed to do was show up to the MTV Video Music Awards without stumbling and her appearance would have been considered a rousing success.
She did more than that ї but not much more. Still, it was enough for a standing ovation from the star-studded crowd even before she opened her mouth.
"Thank you so much," she said flatly. "Thank you for all the love."
Maybe the audience was simply excited to see a glimpse of Britney looking fabulous once again. The rebounding pop queen wore a short silver mini-dress with a plunging neckline, showcasing her svelte figure.
It was a far cry from last year, when her dishelveled, bumbling kickoff was widely panned as one of the worst in VMA history. But Spears was merely on hand this time to give a perfunctory introduction of Rihanna's opening song.
Moments later, she won her very first VMA when she nabbed best female video for "Piece of Me."
"I first wanna thank God for blessing me like this," Spears said, then left the stage quickly ї though she still had a shot at two other awards, including video of the year.
Though she only spent a few seconds onstage at the top of the show, Spears did provide a few laughs during a pre-taped comedic segment with "Superbad" actor Jonah Hill. There were a few more laughs during British comedian Russell Brand's opening monologue, but the celeb audience seemed more nervous than amused, as Brand took aim at Madonna, President George W. Bush and the virginity of teen sensations the Jonas Brothers.
Spears won't be the only act of the night looking for a second chance after a disappointing VMA experience last year. Kanye West is expected to close the two-hour ceremony; in Vegas, he had a fit backstage and vowed never to appear at the VMAs again after he didn't get a Moonman trophy despite being nominated several times. He also lashed out for being confined to performing at one of last year's suite parties instead of on the main stage.
Even though he was primed to have a big spotlight tonight, friend and collaborator Lupe Fiasco said West was likely to find something to complain about.
"There's so much that could go wrong and set my man off over the top," he said.
Kid Rock is looking to make headlines for his music instead of his fighting. The rocker wasn't even a performer last year but became part of one of the most talked about moments of the ceremony when he got into a fight with fellow rocker Tommy Lee, a fellow ex-husband of Pamela Anderson, in the audience. Though cameras did not capture the fight for viewers, it was the source of onstage fodder for the likes of Jamie Foxx and Diddy.
T.I. is another performer giving a noteworthy performance, since the last time he was due to perform at an awards show, he was arrested instead. T.I. was apprehended in October, shortly before the start of the BET Hip-Hop Awards, accused of trying to buy machine guns and silencers; he was sentenced earlier this year to serve about a year in prison after completing at least 1,000 hours of community service.
He is due to perform with Rihanna, who also appeared on last year's show. But the dazzling singer from Barbados is hardly in need of any second chances, coming into the VMAs as one of music's hottest acts thanks to her two No. 1 hits of the summer, "Take a Bow" and "Disturbia."
Other performers slated for Sunday's show include the Jonas Brothers, Lil Wayne, Christina Aguilera and Paramore and Katy Perry. Perry, who had one of the summer's biggest songs with "I Kissed a Girl," is slated to perform not only her own hit but a snippet of Madonna's "Like A Virgin" as MTV pays tribute to some of its more memorable moments as it celebrates its 25th year.
"I'm just excited to have a great seat," said the 23-year-old Perry. "I'm excited to change looks and to have fun ... I'm excited to be a part of something that I would sneak over to my friend's house and plan my whole week around."
Presenters include Olympic darling Michael Phelps and "High School Musical" stars Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale and Corbin Bleu.
The show was be held this year in Los Angeles, at Paramount Studios, where its various movie sets have the potential to be an interesting backdrop for the show and its performers, AP reported.