Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears perform in nearly nude stage outfits.
Photo: Getty Images
I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that, by now, 80% of America has to have seen (or at least heard about) Miley Cyrus’ performance at last night’s 2013 VMAs. The kick-off of a three-song medley—her own single, “We Can’t Stop,” plus Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and “Give It 2 U” featuring 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar—Miley started things off with a bang in a silver bear-faced leotard accompanied by an actually pretty clever a**-glorifying intro medley of what appear to be interpolations of Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up” and Big Sean’s “A$$,” if you were paying close enough attention, leading into her smash single. Giant teddy backpacks and dancers dressed as bears supported Miley’s tongue-and-twerk-tastic solo performance, her first time ever on the VMA stage. And then the Robin Thicke portion started.
Miley ripped off the glittery bodice to reveal a patent nude latex bra and briefs set which she pranced around the set continuing to lash her tongue around and wield a well-manicured foam finger all up and down Thicke’s Beetlejuice-reminiscient suit. The break-away quick-change was, of course, meant to be a reference to Thicke’s mammary-laden “Blurred Lines” music video (directed by Diane Martel who’s also responsible for Miley’s “We Can’t Stop” vid), but more than that, it hearkened back to another pop star’s coming-of-age performance moment on the VMA stage: a little Louisiana girl named Britney Spears.
Need a refresher? Once upon a time, Brit hit the 2000 VMA stage for her own medley performance. Spears opened her set with her cover of “Satisfaction” wearing a rhinestone pinstriped menswear suit and a fedora. Descending a spiral staircase, Britney finished the song on the main stage and transitioned into her colossal hit, “Oops…I Did It Again.” And by “transitioned,” I mean she ripped off her clothes to reveal a nude bra top and flared pants with visible thong underwear detailing (all also covered in rhinestones). Much like Miley’s performance last night, the all-nude-everything quick-change elicited major shock and controversy because at the time Britney was just 18 years old and the sight gag of going from drowning in suiting to a nearly-naked optical illusion dropped more than a few jaws. (Unfortunately, we didn’t have Twitter yet.)
Miley is 20 and came straight out the gate not wearing any pants, making the only epidermal surprise (what a terrible phrase…too bad I’m not hitting backspace) her bare abdomen. And yet, it seems Miley’s performance last night is just as shocking as Britney’s, if not more so. (Fun fact: Miley’s current manager, Larry Rudolph, also manages Britney and has since 1999, as in since before that 2000 VMA performance.) Is it the twerking? The lack of dazzling hair-ography? Robin Thicke’s suit? The kinda infantilizing baby buns and teddy bears? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
+ WATCH MILEY CYRUS PERFORM AT THE 2013 VMAS