Most Iconic VMA Moments: Britney Spears’ Breakdown Makes a Surprise Appearance in 2007

Welcome back to the final feature in our Most Iconic VMA Moments showdown. In anticipation of of the 2013 MTV VMA ceremony on August 25, we want you to help us name the most memorable VMA scandal ever. Two weeks ago, we asked you to vote for your favorite VMA performance. (Britney Spears’ 2001 performance of “I’m a Slave 4 U” won in that category.) Last week, we asked you to vote for your favorite VMA fashion moment. (Congrats, once again, to Britney’s 2002 dominatrix-meets-biker-chick look!) Now, it’s all about the drama! Return on Monday for our awards ceremony. You may vote once per hour.

Is Britney Spears’ disastrous comeback performance in 2007 the most scandalous VMA moment ever?? Let us know by voting below. Plus, continue reading for a look back at the shocking performance.

Britney’s Comeback That Wasn’t

2007 was not Britney’s year. Like, seriously. Remember the shaved head? The umbrella attack? The public divorce and custody battle? The rehab? The immediately checking out of rehab? The checking into rehab again? The disastrous primetime interviews? And, of course, her not-so-triumphant return to the VMA stage after a four year absence?

MTV and the media billed it as Britney’s big “comeback performance.” She had not appeared in-person at the VMAs since 2003, the year she made out with Madonna on stage. Expectations were incredibly high; after several years of false starts and bad publicity, people were ready to welcome Britney back as the Queen of Pop. Unfortunately, people soon found that they’d been led to expect too much. What followed only fueled Britney’s public breakdown.

The performance was a disaster. As Britney performed her brand new single, “Gimme More,” she looked lifeless and miserable. She could not keep up with her dancers; even her lip-synching seemed off. Physically, she wasn’t looking stunning exactly. Her hair — obviously a wig — looked stringy and greasy. Her bikini was too small. It was sad to watch one of the greatest performers of our generation flop so hard, so publicly. The media — and yes, even fans — panned the performance and wondered if we’d truly seen the end of the Britney we’d known and loved for years.

In the months following this performance, Britney continued her downward spiral. We will always remember this performance, but for all of the wrong reasons. Like the iconic “Baldney” from earlier that year, we’ll associate it with the lowest point in Britney’s career, an emblem of her prolonged self-destruction.

However, this story does have a happy ending. Britney did eventually get things together. She emerged from the darkness and showed the world, once again, why she is the reigning Princess of Pop.

On Monday, August 19, we will have a little “awards ceremony” honoring the winners of our three VMA polls (performances, fashion, and scandals.)

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite scandal above. Remember, you can vote once per hour. May the most scandalous moment win!

Read our feature on Madonna and Britney’s big kiss in 2003.

Read our feature on Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift in 2009.

Read our feature on Michael Jackson’s awkward kiss with Lisa Marie Presley in 1994.

Read our feature on Rihanna and Chris Brown’s sneaky kiss in 2012.