MTV's Video Music Awards are in the air again with this year's show happening on Sunday. Among the trophies of the night, Video of the Year is the most prestigious. The award has gone to iconic clips like Madonna' “Ray of Light” and Beyoncé's “Single Ladies.” Britney Spears won the top prize five years ago in 2008 for her humorous and self-referential clip, “Piece of Me.” Since her win, some have called it a “charity” award for the singer's comeback at the time while others believe it was rightfully earned.
For the 2008 MTV VMAs ceremony, fans were able to select the nominees for the major categories. Despite her ill-received performance of “Gimme More” in 2007, Spears' fans put her up for Best Pop Video, Best Female Video and Video of the Year for “Piece of Me.” During the awards ceremony, Spears won all three categories, which finally ended her losing streak and marked the singer's big comeback.
Upon searching YouTube for clips featuring all the Video of the Year recipients, a comment that always comes up is that Spears' “Piece of Me” does not deserve to be in the company of the previous winners and that it was a “charity” award for her comeback. Looking back at “Piece of Me,” there are many reasons why the video rightfully took home Video of the Year in 2008.
“Piece of Me” is certainly not Spears' best music video. She even admitted that herself in an interview following the awards. It was shot during the singer's dark period in 2007, though, when her personal struggles were making tabloid headlines. All that didn't stop Spears from delivering a coherent and confident video that poked fun at her relationship with the paparazzi. Despite her circumstances, she put on her pop star face and worked it out in “Piece of Me.”
In terms of content, “Piece of Me” will always be memorable among Britney's video catalog and in music video history for its self-referential humor. Her strange brushes with the paparazzi in 2007 eclipsed most music news that year and made world headlines. Like the electro-pop track itself, the “Piece of Me” video gave Spears a chance to playfully fight back against the all the bad press. Instead of speaking a word on the situation, she let her music do the talking. Spears trashes the tabloids and even flips off the camera. Among the chaos, she still found the time to do a little bathroom too in the flashy clip.
Spears' competition for Video of the Year in 2008 paled in comparison to the “Piece of Me” clip. Chris Brown's “Forever,” Jonas Brothers' “Burnin' Up,” the Pussycat Dolls' “When I Grow Up” and the Ting Tings' “Shut Up and Let Me Go” were all cool in their own right, but they were arguably not as memorable as Britney's paparazzi-bashing clip. When it comes down to the nominees, Video of the Year was really no contest for Spears.
The “Piece of Me” video was filmed in November 2007 when Spears was still in the thick of personal struggles. Come September 2008 when Spears picked up Video of the Year, all that media chaos was behind her for the most part, which made the win just as memorable. With “Piece of Me,” she turned her dark times into a humorous clip. At the VMAs that night, a healthy and happy Spears was then able to look back on it with well-deserved recognition, coming back stronger than ever. A “Piece” of her became part of the MTV VMA Video of the Year canon.
To find out who is next in line for Video of the Year, check out MTV's VMAs on Sunday, August 25.
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