If you've appropriately adjusted your expectations for what a "Britney Spears performance" looks like in 2011, the pop star's first duo of "performances" since her massive Circus tour wrapped in 2009 won't leave you baffled.
There's no question Spears hasn't been literally In the Zone since the album of the same name came out in 2003. The last time anyone saw her dance with any conviction was 2004 (her "Do Somethin' " video, which was shot after the knee injury that's often blamed for her later lackluster moves). The last time she turned her mic on at a live performance was probably the great wardrobe malfunction of March 2009. But everyone really, really wants to believe Britney can still turn it out. Why? Because at the top of her game, Spears really was a triple threat -- a game-changer, a superstar, a slave for U.
Unfortunately, the collective positive thoughts of Britney Nation aren't going to be enough to return the fire to Spears' eyes. Pour out a little strawberry Frappuccino, everyone: Britney Spears' career as a live performer has a tombstone that reads 1999-2004.*
As we pointed out when Spears' video for "Hold It Against Me" arrived, her dancing has become lifeless and stiff, and she no longer glares into the camera with what was once a ferociously determined gaze. It's like she's not there at all. What's to blame? Nobody but Spears knows the answer, but something certainly changed for Britney following her very public meltdown, which spanned nearly three years, from 2005 to 2008.
Spears' two gigs this weekend weren't nightmares, but they require a lot of scare quotes: "live" "performances." Friday night at Las Vegas' Rain nightclub in the Palms resort, Spears did three tracks from Femme Fatale: first two singles "Hold It Against Me" and "Till the World Ends," and "Big Fat Bass," an oddball Will.i.am-produced concoction that's the most different-sounding track on the disc. The set was recorded by MTV for a special that will be broadcast this week to help promote the album -- which, as The Amp was hoping, is spectacular.
Sunday afternoon she performed the exact same trio of songs for Good Morning America (the segment will air tomorrow morning to coincide with her release day). Both events were heavy on hair tossing, walking, and half-hearted lip-synching. They were light on live singing, dancing, eye contact, and other traditional elements of live performances. Especially Britney's prime live performances.
"Hold It Against Me" from Good Morning America:
"Till the World Ends" in Las Vegas:
"Big Fat Bass" in Las Vegas:
*There's still hope for a Buffy the Vampire Slayer-style resurrection. We're rooting for it.
[Photo: Roderick Trestrail]
- Britney Spears