Governments sign agreements or treaties, even arms control deals every day. Armed conflicts find resolutions or ceasefires. Mergers between companies that run into the billions happen all the time. Tribes sit down and settle centuries-old differences every so often. Marriages end in divorce, sure, but every once in a while there are reconciliations. People do find a way to patch things up. Sometimes it takes some special intervention to make things a little more peaceful.
So what’s the deal here? All this week, Ryan Seacrest has been hyping up on his LA-based KIIS-FM radio program that Madonna was going to “reunite” former lovers Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake at her Dodger Stadium stop of her “Sticky and Sweet” tour last night. The promise of these two exes, one a deeply troubled, divorced, but now hot again pop princess, and the other, an all-around pop superstar with hot girlfriend, coming together on stage with Her Madgesty had everyone buzzing. How would Britney react? What would Justin say to her? Would they both tongue-kiss Madonna as she did with Britney and Xtina at the MTV Music Awards several years ago (indeed, the start of Britney’s unraveling)? Or would they simply keep their distance altogether?
There are some who say that Britney’s flipping out –you know, the crazy ass driving in her Benz at all hours of the night, her shaving her head, her panty-less displays, excessive drinks and drugs, midnight Cheetos and Frappuccino binges—are all as a result of Justin’s dumping her way back in 2002. As his song “Cry Me a River” attests, he let go of her because she was cheating on him. Yet JT was her first love, and it’s basically clear that the break-up had an effect on him too. Except that in his case, he went on to leave N’Sync and become an enormous star on his own, without all thise Britney baggage. What is a former couple of ex-Mouseketeers to do?
Enter Madonna, arguably the most important pop singer/icon/survivor/chameleon of the last 30 years. If she says she wants to collaborate with you or sing with you, you better say yes. JT did, although at first he didn’t believe it was her when she rang. The result? This year’s beat-heavy “Hard Candy”, in which JT and producer Timbaland put out several songs, including the lead single, “4 Minutes”. Madonna therefore has a connection to JT.
Madonna is also, arguably, a surrogate Mommy ton Britney, an unreachable idol of sorts, a figure that Britney once upon a time aspired to become. Remember when Britney used to slut it around in her mini-skirted school uniform singing “Hit Me Baby One More Time”?She was aping Madonna, in some kind of “Like a Virgin” way, because the big deal about Britney was that she would say to everyone that she was “pure” and “innocent”, even if her sexy pouts belied this. (Later we would find out in a W magazine interview, pre-nervous breakdown, that she actually gave it up to Justin, but they didn’t tell anyone. Are you listening, Miley Cyrus? Or the Jonas Brothers and your “abstinence rings”?) In any case, Britney worships the ground that Mom, er, Madonna walks on. If she wants you on stage at Dodger Stadium to shake your hips and help her make her way through “Human Nature”, then you do it.
Well, as both clips from last night’s concert suggest, this was not the ex-lovers duet or threesome (Madonna would have liked that) in which both JT and Britney are onstage together. Was this too hard to manage? Didn’t they know that world peace and a host of other international agreements would have been affected by this kind of reunion? Not to mention the tens of thousands of screaming LA fans. Stampedes! Fits of pandemonium! They could have cleverly transitioned from “Human Nature” to “4 Minutes” and tossed in a little “Womanizer” for good measure. Justin could have done a Janet Jackson trick to both women, therefore exposing even more skin than they’re used to.
But it didn’t happen. People paid hundreds of dollars, even thousands, and this reunion did not happen –well, at least we didn’t see it. According to reports, the two ex-lovebirds did meet backstage for a brief moment and exchanged hellos. They appeared separately onstage with Madge, but not together. I have to say Britney is looking sexy, a little trimmer and more radiant than she has in the past. Maybe this will convince her to do her own road tour. Hey, it’s Britney, bitch! (What a great line, and I wonder who inspired such insolence?)
JT, on the other hand, bumped and grinded with the 50-year-old workhorse and did his trademark dance steps. Yet he also wore the unfortunate bohemian scarf that he wore in the video to “4 Minutes” –and, well the look doesn’t do much for him, and well, you know what? Who cares? The pop culture moment that we were all eagerly awaiting didn’t really happen –yet.