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Why Britney Spears' top MTV VMA victory was a jaw-dropper

September 7, 2008 | 10:10 pm

When the nominations were first unveiled for the MTV Video Music Awards this year and Britney Spears made the lineup for "Piece of Me," my first impulse as an awards guru was to think: She'll win, natch. Britney Spears was the biggest star of 2008, after all, albeit in that train wreck kinda way. But then, after further reflection and a look back at past winners in this category, I flip-flopped and thought: no, no, no.


The reason: Who picks the MTV VMA winners. If this year's VMAs were decided like they were in 2006, yes, Britney might be considered the front-runner. That was the one year champs were decided by online voters. But Panic at the Disco prevailed then for "I Write Sins, Not Tragedies," which was widely ridiculed by serious music gurus. Gritty journalists — the type who write for Rolling Stone and Billboard — were particularly irked that Panic beat the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Dani California," and they gave MTV so much hell over it that the VMAs switched the decision-making process back to folks who picked winners in the past: a random assortment of showbiz industry hipsters they considered to be cool. Some past voters who I knew personally were journalists and producers at E! Entertainment Network and VH1, for example.

In the past, these hipsters chose mostly respectable champs for video of the year: Green Day ("Boulevard of Broken Dreams"), Outkast ("Hey Ya") and Eminem ("Without Me"). Not the trashy, trailer-park, bubble-gum stars like Britney, who hasn't, let's face it, been taken too seriously as an artist and has never won a Moonman. She lost all 16 past nominations, including her only previous bid for best video of the year: "Toxic" (2004).

This year it seemed possible that voters might give Britney the pop-video award as a sympathy prize after all she's been through. After all, that award has "pop" in the title. But best video of the year?

The fact that Britney won that lofty trophy is a triumph of the Olympian kind and proof of what host Russell Brand asserted at show's end: that she has finally "conquered" musicdom.

Granted, there weren't any nominees competing against her that get the kind of artistic huzzahs that Green Day and Eminem do. That surely helped her odds and the omission was odd. But, still, that shouldn't detract too much from her accomplishment. We live in an era when personal dysfunction, even craziness, is celebrated in reality TV shows and tabloid news. In that context, Britney's recent personal collapse detracts little, it turns out, when stacked against her rep as an enduring music entertainer. Maybe even artist too.

To see the full list of MTV VMA winners, CLICK HERE!

Photo by Jive Records

The comments to this entry are closed.


sammielynn, i'm a spinal surgeon. have saved many lives. i don't think britney has done that.

lol what are you saying!? britney's been amazing since day one! Not many ppl can honestly say that they don't like britney spears... now I'm not saying that EVERYONE like her, but I also think that most people hate to admit just how catchy her work is! Good job britney! lol

i ttly agree with C,
"She only got those awards cause people felt sorry for her. It's so obvious. What a retarded show."

Posted by: c | September 08, 2008 at 06:41 AM

The haters can say what they want. The fact remains that Britney has accomplished more than ANY of you people ever will in your entire lives. She should have gotten the VMAs nine years ago. Piece of Me definitely wasn't her best video. I can name a handful of others from years past that are so much better. Nonetheless, she was overdue for her wins. Better late than never.

For the record, I didn't think it was the best show by any means, but it did what it meant to do -- entertain. The music out lately has been more of the same...

People need to stop talking about Britney and focus on their own issues. it doesn't matter if she won her VMAs out of pity -- she's been at it since 1998. They were deserved and she got them, so deal with it.

spoonkid, the only person who is lame here is you and your butchered English. Please stay in school.

I think Britney Spears looked great!!! As far as all you Brit haters are concerned move on, find someone else to make a mock of...... Brit has been battered by the media to long!! And now she is putting things back together.. I'm very happy for her!!!! Brit you go girl!! Don't let no-one or nothing stand in the way

Britney won because she continues to move the music industry forward. Few, if any, of the other artist on the show will still be around in 5 years. Britney is an icon who continues to produce "A" material in spite of the distractions of being the most famous person in the world. Blackout may have single handily changed the way music is introduced into the mainstream. Leak unpolished versions of the material along with songs that will never officially see the light of day and then release polished versions on the final product. Brilliant! As far as looks, my two daughters and my wife let out gasps when Britney appeared because she looked stunning. Every woman in the house paled in comparison. Her videos rose above all of the clap-trap of the media and too-hip industry insiders. Good for you Britney.

OK...OK...pls...this was not the 25th birthday of VMA it was actually a pity party for Britney....Even the Britney lovers have to admit!!! Yes...MTV screwed up for exploiting Britney last year, knowing she wasn't ready since she was in the midst of her own personal drama. Who cares, people go thru shit regardless of what it is, no one should judge.
But, last night's decisions on who should win, as she was going up against other artists who should have obviously won, was appauling! Even one of he judges said he voted for her, not because she deserved it, because she needed it. She did need it after a year like this, but it's ashame that they discounted the other's just to play Britney up, knowing of their foul move last year for rating to have her open in her condition.
I don't dislike her, I dislike the politics behind the engine!

Even I can tell the fix was in!

britney winning the video of the year was an insult to all nominated. I always knew they were rigged. trying to make britney actually look successful.... pathetic

all u guys supporting britney are jus lame as her dance album?? give me a break lol. every year the vma is getting boring. why u ask cus all those arwards are all fixx
this venue was very small pob.mtv getting cheaper by the years...who knowns what next vma going to be ..

Jawdropper??? What's so surprising??? You think an MTV award can't be bought??? Besides, with the current state of MTV and pop music in general, who cares? They all stink.

She only got those awards cause people felt sorry for her. It's so obvious. What a retarded show.

It was highly EVIDENT that britney won those awards out of PITY. It was ridiculous. She shouldnt have even been at that show. Shes trailer trash. She should have been home taking care of her children. Yea she WAS a pop star YEARS AGO but now she's more famous for being a self-destructive neglegent parent and out of her f*ckin mind! The way everybody stood up and applauded for her when she came out to present the first award was just painful to watch. Why feel sorry for her? If it was any other "celeb" im sure the pity party wouldnt have taken place for them.

Britney deserved NOTHING but maybe to present an award. She single-handedly ruined last years VMA's and her album was blacklisted and was horrible (not that her music has EVER been good!) The dumbass host they had on needed to not be so freakin high during the show too, he was a POOR choice.

i agree with tony....

britney's album rocks.....

so shut up haterz....

brit already won....!!!!


Britney definetly deserved the awards not because of pity but because she worked for it. Hey, its people's decision and they like Britney. Britney has been a pop star since 1998 and she has made chart topping history. I don't think a lot of artists can compete with that.


the whole thing was a JOKE. she one with a crappy video...this was just insulting.

In my opinion Britney won because she earned it as an artist. The writer of this article may not find her music to his/her liking, but the majority of folks do. Like myself. I don't judge her artistic abilities based on her personal life and problems. She had a messed up year and still put out an awesome CD.

who ever wrote this is a heartless bastard. Britney is the queen of music and in some ways bigger than even madonna. she has been nominated 16 times before and never won over people who now forgotten and never herad of again, while britney has been a pop icon for the lasr 10 years and after the year she has had she deserves it more than anyone in the music industry. and you are a heartless person!

Someone really needs to lay off the hater-ade.

Everyone has trouble, hers are just displayed in front of billions of people.

She is wonderful, she looked amazing, and the girl is coming back. The princess of pop is back on track, and more successful than you will ever be.

Love her and she deserved every single award! It was about time.

And when you say talent is involved, Mariah Carey never won a moonman either, and at one point in time, she had the largest vocal range in the world.


Tom...have you HEARD her album? Its fantastic. I was never a britney fan, I disliked the girl immensly. But this Album jumped out at me. and considering the state her career was in at the time ( with her messed up manager ) this video was excellent. Think about Gimme More * shudders * ( what the hell WAS that? ) - I think it was well done and I think she deserved each award. Shes back, and if you dont think she dererves it now, she'll hopefully proove you wrong with a more responsible grown up attitude and some more professional music and videos. But I dont think its fair to say its all pity. The poor lass has been down a HARD path. Most stars killed themselves after being what shes been through, or even less...

Brits album rocked... it was upbeat and fun...fantastic dance album... overshadowed by her personal woes... she deserved it.

Britney definitely deserved that award.
She was the only artist who actually did something different in her videos.
The majority of other's that were nominated stood behind a microphone and sang in front of a backdrop.
She danced, she had different sets, different costumes and looked amazing.

She has been ripped off in the past of awards that she obviously deserved.
Now it's redemption.

I feel she has been unappreciated as a performer for all of her career.
No one, aside from Madonna has ever put on a show quite like she has.
It's Brit's time to shine.
Best of all, she's entertaining. Personally and professionally.

Who wrote this piece. Perhaps try sticking to facts rather than opinionated pieces. Eminem was known more for his personal life than his music and he won. Britney, did indeed have a shocker of a year in regasrds to her personal life but you cannot ignore the strength of her album and the single 'Piece of Me'. She deserved the awards. Leave her alone.




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