It's hard to believe there was ever a Video Music Awards without [artist id="501686"]Britney Spears[/artist]. Her iconic performances and eye-popping getups make her a perfect match for the outsized and outrageous VMA stage.
Britney herself told us that her bombshell kiss with Madonna in 2003 is her favorite VMA moment. "My greatest experience -- probably being with Madonna," she told MTV News. "The kiss was amazing. ... Being onstage with someone of that caliber is just iconic."
But Spears certainly has a long list to choose from. And with that track record, it's no surprise that this year's VMAs will pay tribute to Britney. Let's dive into the highlights of her decade-plus history with the show:
For her first-ever appearance, Spears not only went dress shopping with MTV News correspondent Serena Altschul, but also declared herself a VMA pop princess, taking the stage alongside 'NSYNC to perform her breakout hit " ... Baby One More Time." Still the epitome of a teen-pop sensation, Spears performed with a school backdrop, a callback to her video for the track.
Spears upped the sexy ante when she literally did a striptease at the show. She cooed her way through the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" and then -- boom -- it happened: She ripped off her tux to display a nude two-piece getup and shimmied her way through "Oops ... I Did It Again."
Just one year later, not only did the singer give Jamie Foxx a dance lesson to Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell," but she also hung out with Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger on the red carpet, who appeared not to know who she was. "Am I a Britney fan?" Jagger pondered. "Of course I am. And she did one of our songs, didn't she? She did it very well."
But that was all kid's stuff until Spears took the stage at the Metropolitan Opera House in 2001 for her sultry and very memorable performance of "I'm a Slave 4 U." Draping herself in a white python and slithering around a steamy garden setting -- surrounded by dancers in zebra and tiger outfits -- Spears created one of the most striking visuals in the 27-year history of the show.
Brit donned a dominatrix outfit and presented idol Michael Jackson with a birthday cake and referred to him as the "artist of the millennium." Michael may have misunderstood and thought that she meant he was receiving some new Artist of the Millennium award and gave an acceptance speech.
Here it is: Britney's favorite. She, along with queen Madonna and peer Christina Aguilera, opened the show with striking dance moves and star power. But things really heated up during a wedding-themed performance of Madge's "Like a Virgin," when Madonna leaned in for a quick smooch with Christina Aguilera and then an even-steamier kiss with Spears. Everyone was surprised by it -- including Justin Timberlake. She later told CNN, "I didn't know it was going to be that long and everything. ... I've never kissed a woman before."
Apparently, the three-way kiss struck a major chord with music fans around the world, who just voted it the most outrageous moment in the show's long history.
Spears appeared on the show in a way fans had never seen her before: pregnant. The mommy-to-be (Jayden James was on the way) pre-taped a segment alongside then-hubby Kevin Federline to present the award for Best R&B Video.
Spears took home her first Moonman -- actually, she took home three, for Video of the Year, Best Female Video and Best Pop Video, all for "Piece of Me." She also displayed her funny bone in a video that opened the show, making us all laugh alongside Jonah Hill. "I just want to dedicate this to all my amazing fans out there for all their support," she said when she took the stage to accept one of her many Moonmen that night.
The show landed back in New York City, and Spears was up for seven awards. She took home the prize for Best Pop Video for her Joseph Kahn-directed clip for "Womanizer."
After taking a break in 2010, we come to this Sunday, where a Spears tribute is set to take place and the singer is up for two Moonmen, including Best Pop Video and Best Choreography. Will she add any more hardware to her collection? You'll have to wait and find out. But we are betting on one more memorable moment to add to her stellar VMA history.
The 28th annual MTV Video Music Awards will air live Sunday from Los Angeles at 9 p.m. ET/PT, following the Selena Gomez-hosted pre-show at 8. See the list of nominees, revisit last year's highlights and vote for Best New Artist by visiting VMA.MTV.com.