Music awards shows have grown into an arena of excess over the past decade, with producers apparently competing to see how much spectacle can be packed into a mere three hours of airtime. Still, even given the current astronomically set bar, the 2016 Billboard Music Awards promised to be a standout.
The show booked not one, but three, A-plus-list divas in A-plus roles: Britney Spears to run down a career highlight medley, Madonna to pay tribute to the late Prince, and Celine Dion in her first live appearance since losing her husband and brother to cancer.
Spears, who was given the splashiest (opening) slot, took this responsibility very seriously—in some ways more than others. Although it was painfully apparent the singer wasn’t actually singing — or even making a very believable attempt at lip-syncing — she more than made up for this by visually stunning the audience right f-rom the get-go.
Spears didn’t change her outfit once during her entire 10-minute segment, but with good reason: Her outfit deserved its own moment. Entering in a short red jacket, boots, and top hat, she quickly ripped open the coat to reveal an extremely skimpy red bikini, enhanced by chains, sequins, and an enviably fit physique.
F-rom there, she slithered through her greatest hits, starting off with “Work Bitch” and building f-rom there. If the red lingerie weren’t enough, Spears played up the sexiness by riding a giant guitar as if it were a mechanical bull, pole-dancing, and bending over to give the crowd an bird’s-eye look at her toned bottom. Phew!
Oddly enough, Spears chose to omit her very first hit single — the one that famously established her as a sex kitten in the first place—1998’s “Baby… One More Time.” Another omission that likely disappointed fans: Spears was reportedly set to debut her new single, “Make Me (Oooh),” during the medley, but according to the Las Vegas Sun, the song and its video have been pushed to an overall summer launch due to production difficulties.
Regardless, the medley — although overall seeming a tad longer than necessary, sexy moves notwithstanding–served as a fine advertisement for her recently renewed residency, Britney: Piece of Me, which debuted at Las Vegas’s Planet Hollywood in 2013.
Spears also entered the evening with plenty of anticipatory attention at her heels. She was slated to receive the Billboard Millennium Award, which recognizes career achievement as well as industry influence, and is relatively new honor. Only two have been handed out to date – to Beyoncé in 2011 and Whitney Houston in 2012.
Spears has collected six Billboard Music Awards over her career, and had six albums debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 c-hart.
The 2016 Billboard Music Awards aired live f-rom the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas May 22.