By Christopher Rosa
Last week marked the 15th anniversary of Britney Spears’ first solo concert tour. You’ve already seen our nostalgia-inducing trip down memory lane, where we compared shots from her …Baby One More Time Tour (1999) and her current Las Vegas residency Britney: Piece of Me. But what about all the good stuff in between—the tours, television appearances and surprise shows that made our Britney-loving hearts skip several beats? What are Brit Brit’s greatest performances of all time?
We had a ton of material to choose from—it has been more than a decade, after all—but we whittled down the list to 15 signature performances that encompass what we all love about Britney: Theatrics, amazing choreography and (from time to time) solid vocals. In these clips alone, we see Britney tangling with a python, flying in the rain, playing whack-a-mole and—oh yeah!—kissing Madonna. Yeesh! We’re tired just thinking about it.
Take a look at our choices and let us know in the comments below what Britney performances make your spirits soar. And yes, “all of them” is an acceptable answer.
15. “Break the Ice,” 2013-2014’s Britney: Piece of Me (Las Vegas Residency)
Britney’s dancing in her current Vegas show is a little…meh. However, our girl gets a random burst of energy during her rendition of “Break the Ice,” and the results are flawless. Danceney is back! (Well, for about 2 minutes.)
14. “Everytime,” 2004’s The Onyx Hotel Tour
Not particularly known for her live vocals, the world takes a deep breath whenever Britney drops the playback and attempts to sing. We were pleasantly surprised with “Everytime” back in ’04. Brit does have a lovely voice when she tries.
13. “Piece of Me,” 2009’s The Circus Starring: Britney Spears
Considered her comeback tour, Britney is in full “caged animal” mode for this version of “Piece of Me.” Literally. She’s in cage. Oh, and she flips her hair about 10,000 times (all perfection).
12. “Gimme More,” 2011’s Femme Fatale Tour
While her 2007 MTV Video Music Awards performance will forever remain “Gimme More’s” pièce de résistance, Britney’s 2011 version is a satisfying treat. The Egyptian-inspired dancing highlights Brit’s best on-stage features.
11. “Stronger,” 2001’s American Music Awards
Britney hosted the AMAs in 2001, but she did take a 4-minute break to wow us with the best live version of “Stronger” ever. The rock-influenced sound and choreography make this performance explode.
10. “Me Against the Music” and “(I Got That) Boom Boom,” TRL’s Spankin’ New Music Week 2003
Britney turned the sex kitten notch waaay up for this live-in-Times Square performance. Her dancing is on point (and so is that fedora).
9. “Oops!…I Did It Again,” 2001-2002’s Dream Within a Dream Tour
Perhaps the best opening in any Britney tour, “Oops!” gets the full “Vegas spectacle” makeover here. The pyrotechnics! The cuckoo-bananas costumes! That, erm, thing she’s spinning on! Not to mention she looks muy caliente in that all-black ensemble.
8. “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman,” 2002’s American Music Awards
Britney’s best live vocals to date? Maybe so. Our girl sounds pitch perfect here, and her subtle vocals are complemented by that lovely nude-toned dress.
7. “Touch of My Hand” and “Breathe On Me,” 2004’s The Onyx Hotel Tour
Britney takes a heavy dose of Erotica-era Madonna during these two back-to-back numbers (her raciest on-stage antics ever). We guess the party really doesn’t start until you simulate sex and then make out with one of your back-up dancers…right?
6. “If U Seek Amy,” 2009’s The Circus Starring: Britney Spears
This one is just fun. In an animated number, a smiling Britney bounces around the stage with a glittery pink mallet and plays whack-a-mole (naturally). It’s silly and over-the-top, yes, but oozing a real sense of joy that seems to be missing in Britney’s more recent performances. *Sigh.*
5. “Toxic,” 2003 ABC Special
“Toxic” is a Britney concert staple, but rarely does she do it with this much oomph. The dancing is tight, her hair is blonde and free-flowing and when she puts on her blindfold, we’re on the edge of our seats. Where’d ya go, B? We don’t see you! #magic #science
4. “Like a Virgin/Hollywood” with Madonna, Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliot, 2003’s MTV VMAs
This may have been an homage to Madonna, but our eyes (like always) were on Britney. Sure, Brit Brit was the only one lip-synching (allegedly), but her hair flips make up for it. And the fact that her kiss with Madge was the only one that mattered was (and still is) everything.
3. “…Baby One More Time,” 2001-2002’s Dream Within a Dream Tour
The outside comes inside for the finale of Britney’s mesmerizing Dream Within a Dream Tour. Rain pours all over Britney as she bounces around the key-shaped stage to an up-tempo rendition of “BOMT.” Oh, and then takes flight. BOOM.
2. “Oops!…I Did It Again/Satisfaction,” 2000’s MTV VMAs
Britney channeled Michael Jackson for her second VMAs performance, where she ripped off her black suit to reveal a barely-there flesh-colored ensemble. The crowd went crazy when then 18-year-old Britney stared right into their souls and said, “Oooh! I did it again.” YES SHE DID.
1. “I’m a Slave 4 U,” 2001’s MTV VMAs
What’s a girl to do to shake her pigtails image? Wrap a yellow python around her neck and writhe around the Metropolitan Opera House stage to her Neptunes-concoted hit song, apparently. And the results are #iconic.
[Photo Credit: Getty Images, Splash News]