You've got to feel a little sorry for Britney Spears. I'm sure Britney thought that her triumphant return to the MTV Video Music Awards stage—10 years after a disastrous performance that almost ended her career—would be what everyone was talking about today. Then Beyoncé showed up, and taught a masterclass on how to bring down the house with a live performance.
Aside from Rihanna swerving on Drake, Beyoncé's 16 minutes on stage felt like the only ones that mattered as she performed a medley of songs from her Lemonade visual album: the angelic, wistful "Pray You Catch Me,” followed by “Hold Up,” in which she took a swing at a camera with a baseball bat (obviously she hit it, Beyoncé never misses), followed by cloud of literal dust to side chicks in “Sorry” and a moment of raw, expletive-ridden, fur-wearing fierceness—and I don't mean that in the fiiiierce sense—on “Don’t Hurt Yourself” before bringing it home with "Formation," a song that has benefitted from being ignored by traditional radio and still feels fresh eight months after Bey debuted it at the Super Bowl.
"I know you came to slay," Big Freedia intoned on the final song, and truer words have never been spoken. It was essentially a 15-minute version of Beyoncé's Lemonade Tour, and if it doesn't make you want to spend your rent money on tickets, then we can't be friends.
The performance was so showstopping it's easy to forget that Beyoncé was also on the stage a record eight times to accept VMA Awards for Video of the Year, Best Pop Video, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Direction for "Formation," Best Female Video for "Hold Up,"—I'm not sure, but that's got to be the first time a moon man was given out for a song that wasn't even released as a single—and Breakthrough Long Form Video for Lemonade. They might as well have renamed the show the BMAs (we would support this change).
Oh, and just in case you thought Beyoncé wasn't going to use a major performance to make a statement, she showed up with a Taylor Swift-style entourage, except instead of supermodels, Beyoncé brought along her Lemonade collaborators and the mothers of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and Oscar Grant.
Oh, and she brought along Blue Ivy in a coordinating gold sequined dress adorned with cascading tulle to her mother's feathers, giving us all the mother-daughter #goals we can handle. If that's not slaying, nothing is.