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VMA 2016: Britney Spears retakes the stage that once undid her

Faced with the impossible task of following Beyoncé, Britney stepped up like the pro she is.

Whenever Britney Spears is at the VMAs, it doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad. It only matters that it’s Britney Spears.

She’s performed on the VMAs stage five times since 1999, starting with "Baby One More Time" alongside N’SYNC, through her own iconic "I’m a Slave 4 U" performance alongside a tiger and banana python, and finally her underwhelming performance in 2007 of "Gimme More." The 2007 performance was supposed to be a comeback after years of incredibly public tumult, but instead, it just felt like confirmation that Britney was never quite going to be Britney again.

Now, though? Britney is back.

Nine years and three albums later (including Glory, released on August 26), Britney returned to the VMA stage to show everyone how hard she’s been working since — and that you shouldn’t write her off just yet.

She emerged in a yellow sequined leotard, writhing to "Make Me," Glory’s first single. Having performed at her Las Vegas show, Piece of Me, for almost three years now, Britney showed her form is still on point.

But the dancing was minimal, and she ceded way too much of her spotlight to writhing all over her "Make Me" collaborator G-Eazy. For half the performance, it didn’t feel like her own performance at all — a jarring shift after Beyoncé’s (literally) incendiary performance almost brought down Madison Square Garden by sheer force of will.

So, no, it wasn’t on the legendary level Britney’s attained in the past, but, hey — it wasn’t "Gimme More," either. Britney’s a professional; she did her job.