Setlist History: Madonna, Britney and Christina Kiss at MTV VMAs

Madonna, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera kissed during the opening performance of the 2003 MTV VMAs on this day, August 28, and it was instantly iconic.

Nearly 20 years previous, during the music video channel's inaugural Video Music Awards, a then 26-year-old Madonna rolled around the stage in a wedding dress, grinding on it while singing her hit "Like A Virgin."

It caused a mid-'80s commotion.

26 year old Madonna at the 1984 MTV VMAs

The 2002 VMAs opening was a somber one as it was nearly a year to the day of 9/11, so Bruce Springsteen opened with the apropos-but-not-fun “The Rising.”

So for 2003 the network that helped make Madonna (and vice-versa) gave her carte blanche to make the opening of the show hers.

Madonna conceived of the wedding cake that she would emerge from, as well as Britney Spears singing the opening lines of "Like A Virgin" while adorned in a wedding dress. But recently news came out that it was originally supposed to be Jennifer Lopez, not Christina Aguilera as the second "bride" who would kiss the tuxedoed Madonna.

JLO unfortunately was booked on the feature film Shall We Dance opposite Richard Gere and couldn't make it.

Shall We Dance reaped in $170 million worldwide on a $50 million budget. They were wise to make her dance with Gere instead of Madonna and Britney.

P!nk claims both she and No Doubt's Gwen Stefani were called for the bit but as we know now it was Xtina plus Missy Elliot who would have their place in history.

As fun as it would have been to see Madonna kiss Gwen in a wedding dress, what went down was fun, sexy, and a little naughty. But best of all it put Christina and Britney on stage together as performers, something they hadn't done in a decade since they were cast members of the Mickey Mouse Club with Justin Timberlake (and Ryan Gosling).

Britney and Justin on the Mickey Mouse Club singing The Staples Singers' "I'll Take You There"

JT is who MTV cut to twice during the performance because he, as we all know, had famously dated Britney and their breakup was front page news.

It was the second cut to the N*Sync star that irked some because that was the moment when Madonna kissed Aguilera. THE WORLD WANTED TO SEE BOTH SMOOCHES!

Thank heavens MTV shot a rehearsal so they could get the camera moves, lighting, and blocking right.

It also gave the performers a chance to get the steps correct. In that video there aren't any cutesy cuts to the audience of Justin, Avril Lavigne, Kelly Osbourne, or Beyonce. We finally get to see Madonna and Christina swap some superstar spit.

Rehearsal of the famous kiss between Madonna and Christina and Britney

As could be predicted, the aftermath of The Kiss(es) rubbed some the right way and others the wrong way.

The most shocking reaction came from Stevie Nicks who told an Aussie newspaper that she was outraged at what she saw.

“First of all, Madonna is too old to be kissing someone who is 22,” Nicks said of The Material Girl who had just turned 48 earlier that month. “And Britney should be smarter than that. Hopefully, she will figure a way out of this hole she has dug for herself.“

Entertainment Tonight reliving the reactions The Kiss evoked.

Nicks wasn't finished. She also said Xtina and Britney should, "wear more clothes and try writing some decent songs."

She added, "I thought it was the most obnoxious moment in television history.”

Stevie wasn't the only one to get snippy. Two years ago when Lil Nas X kissed two of his background dancers at the VMAs in what most thought was a nod to the 2003 performance, Madonna got on Instagram to remind the world who was the originator.

In fact when Britney married model Sam Asghari last year after being set free from her conservatorship, she invited Madonna to the wedding.

Naturally they kissed for the cameras which immediately got the press writing about how it was a reenactment of what happened so many years ago on the Radio City stage.

Madonna today, as we know, has been fighting an illness that forced her to postpone some of the shows for her Celebration Tour.

Currently the next batch of concerts for her are scheduled for October where she kicks off the tour with a four-night sold out run at London's O2 Arena. Tickets available on her website.

Christina doesn't have a full blown tour planned at this moment.

But she does have two appearances on her calendar: a free show at the Euro Pride Festival in Malta, and concert in Australia at the end of the year.

Tickets available on her website.

Britney is taking a break from performing after being forced to do years of residencies in Las Vegas. She recently divorced from her model husband and can be regularly seen spinning around her house dancing and sharing it on Instagram.

In October she will be releasing her much anticipated autobiography, The Woman in Me. So prepared to be inundated with her in the coming months.

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Last updated: 9 Dec 2023, 04:47 Etc/UTC