As soon as the pop star stepped out in her sequined bikini and mouthed the words "It's Britney, bitch," viewers were buzzing about the "comeback," Sarah Silverman's risky jokes, Chris Brown's sweet moves and more.
The reaction to Brit's performance was overwhelmingly negative (see "Britney Spears Kicks Off Show, But VMA Night Belongs To Rihanna And Justin Timberlake"). "That was a comeback?" asked Melissa, 30, from Richmond, Virginia. "She didn't seem to know where she was at. I think she needed a lot more rehearsal and a lot more talent."
Many longtime fans of Spears were left disappointed. "I wish that it was Britney five years ago on that stage," wrote Laurice, 24, of Nashville.
And others, such as Tara from Exeter, New Hampshire, offered sympathy for the troubled star: "Brit, you did great. We all need to get off this girl's back and let her live. Brit, you stand true to yourself, and it will all work out. It is going to be a long road, but you have already taken some of the hardest steps. I admire you, hon."
Sara, 19, from Oakfield, New York, said: "I think it's time for Britney to give up performing for a while and take care of her children and herself. Rethink your coming back, Britney!"
Fans weren't the only ones who were mixed on Spears' VMA performance. Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger tried to be encouraging but was reserved with her applause, saying, "It's hard because being an artist like myself, I don't like it when I'm not in front of the house and I can't hear the monitors properly. ... I dunno, it was cool, I was just sending her good vibes the whole time."
50 Cent called Brit's performance a "highlight," saying, "I told you outside, she was gonna be the hottest thing, and she did it, she worked it out. Yeah, she had a big production, things started coming out of the sky." But then he changed the subject to another performer: "Chris brown was hot too, he jumped from table to table."
Common wasn't so kind with what he had to say about the performance. "It felt like her heart wasn't in it. It didn't feel like she was really goin' for it. It just felt like she was there, man," he added. "There's so much talk about her personal life, you wanna see her come out on top. She eventually still can. But that performance, I don't think it was what we were lookin' for ... to light it up."
Viewers reserved a few barbs for comedian Sarah Silverman's opening monologue. "Sarah Silverman's comments about Britney and her children were 100 percent uncalled for," said Kimberly, 30, from Portland, Texas. "If she wanted to make a joke about Britney, fine. But leave those babies alone!"
"Who was laughing at anything Sarah Silverman said?" asked Angela, 29, from Orlinda, Tennessee. "I really think she crossed the line."
On the bright side, Chris Brown's energetic dancing was a big hit. "Chris Brown was the best performance of the night," wrote Eve, 23, of New York. Added Silvia from Miami: "Chris Brown was off the chain. He should have opened the show tonight!"
"Chris Brown's performance made me cry, and Rihanna is baby Beyoncé! Alicia Keys hit it on the money," Hina Shereen, 24, of Muttontown, New York, said of her faves.
There were many votes for Keys' song and dance: "The best performance of the night was Ms. Keys," said Stephon, 19, from Indianapolis.
"Thank God for Alicia Keys, the only performer willing to actually perform on the big stage," said Holly of Raleigh, North Carolina.
The night's maestro, Timbaland, got some shout-outs for his grand finale. "Timbaland, Justin and Nelly Furtado put on one of the best VMA performances ever," said Danielle, 21, of Phoenix. "So much talent on one stage. It's unreal! Thank you, MTV and Timbaland, for kicking it up a hundred notches this year!"
And finally, many enjoyed the performances going on in the luxury suites best of all. "It would have been more exciting to see Kanye West open the show," wrote Nicole, 24, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. "His new single, 'Stronger,' is an energetic and cool song, way better than Britney's try at making a viable hit record."
Well, he might not have opened the show, but maybe 'Ye got the last word Sunday night (see "Kanye West Tells Crowd At Pre-VMA Concert That He Should Open Big Show, Not Brit").
Wait — don't cash out on the VMAs just yet! From Britney's sultry comeback performance to the big winners, you saw it all — well, almost everything! Get yourself even richer with our wall-to-wall show coverage, party reports, videos and loads more at www.VMA.MTV.com. For reports, photos, video and much, much more from previous VMAs, dive into the VMA archives.