Britney Spears on Her Unplanned, Iconic Kiss With Madonna at the VMAs

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When Britney Spears kissed Madonna while performing onstage at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs), it became the smooch seen ’round the world.

Now, in her memoir, The Woman in Me, Spears is revealing new details about how the kiss—widely considered to be one of the most iconic moments in music award-show history—came to be.

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In the book, which will be published on Oct. 24, Spears writes that while she, Madonna, and Christina Aguilera were rehearsing their performance of “Like a Virgin,” they had always practiced an air kiss. But, right before they were set to go on the night of the show, Spears started to think that it might be a good idea to switch things up.

“About two minutes before the performance, I was sitting on the side of the stage and thinking about my biggest performance to date at the VMAs, when I’d pulled off a suit to reveal a sparkly outfit,” she writes, referencing her performance of “Oops!…I Did It Again” at the 2000 VMAs. “I thought to myself: I want a moment like that again this year. With the kiss, should I just go for it?

Spears goes on to explain how the kiss became a generation-defining moment in pop culture. “A lot was made of that kiss,” she writes. “Oprah asked Madonna about it. The kiss was treated as a huge cultural moment—’Britney kissing Madonna!’—and it got us both a lot of attention.”

Read More: Britney Spears Reveals How She Feels About the #FreeBritney Movement in The Woman in Me

Throughout her memoir, Spears also frequently writes about how Madonna served as both a role model and mentor for her early in Spears’ career.

“Going along with Madonna’s ideas and being on her time for days was what it meant to collaborate with her,” she writes of the period they spent working together on the 2003 song “Me Against the Music.” “It was an important lesson for me, one that would take a long time for me to absorb: she demanded power, and so she got power. She was the center of attention because she made that the condition of her showing up anywhere. She made that life for herself. I hoped I could find ways to do that while preserving the parts of my nice-girl identity that I wanted to keep.”

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