It took a year, but Britney Spears' comeback on the MTV Video Music Awards is finally a reality.
Spears nabbed all three VMAs she was nominated for, including video of the year, and made a triumphant appearance in an attempt to erase the career-low of last year's ceremony.
Spears didn't perform. Still, just being there was enough for a standing ovation from the star-studded crowd long before she opened her mouth to get things rolling.
Maybe the audience was simply excited to see a glimpse of Britney looking fab 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 (the freewheeling show celebrates 25 years this year). But Spears was merely on hand this time to give a perfunctory introduction of Rihanna's opening song.
Moments later, Spears won her very first VMA.
"I first wanna thank God for blessing me like this," Spears said, then left the stage quickly 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 comedian Russell Brand's opening monologue, but the celeb audience seemed more nervous than amused, as the frenetic Brit took aim at Madonna, the virginity of teen sensations the Jonas Brothers and President Bush, whom he called "a retarded cowboy fellow."
He clearly got under the skin of one celebrity, however, with his jokes about promise rings, which the Jonas Brothers wear to signify their virginity. Another famous promise ring wearer, Jordin Sparks, said before giving out one award:
"I just wanna say, it's not bad to wear a promise ring because not every guy and a girl wants to be a slut, OK?" she quipped.
Afterward, a somewhat contrite Brand apologized to a stone-faced Jonas Brothers, saying, "I didn't mean to take it lightly" before adding, "a little sex once and a while never hurt anybody."
Though the VMAs have been defined by zany, wild moments in the past the Michael and Lisa Marie kiss, the Britney-Madonna kiss, Prince's butt-out jeans just to name a few early on, there were more head-scratching moments than outrageous ones at the event, being held at sprawling Paramount Studios lot.
The prim and proper Leona Lewis gave a graceful opening performance for a song by Lil Wayne, who appeared on stage barechested, displaying his tattooed torso as his pants hung below his buttocks (Ralph Lauren's underwear line got a nice plug, however). He performed hits "A Milli" and a song with T-Pain.
The Jonas Brothers performed a version of their song "Lovebug" that was so genteel one might have thought they were doing a tribute to the Osmonds. But the trio then segued to a rocked-out version of the song in the final moments, as a throng of screaming fans surrounded them on one of the movie's many sets.
Pink gave perhaps the show's most rousing performance, a pyrotechnic-fueled performance of her new song, "So What."