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A comeback for the pop queen? Oops, not quite

September 11, 2007|Ann Powers

BRITNEY, you are no Elvis.

Though she quoted the opening lines of the King's 1968 comeback special as she made her return as an actual, lip-syncing pop star at the start of the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday, she looked more like Edie Sedgwick in the post-lobotomy scenes of the underground movie "Ciao, Manhattan."

When will we be sick of watching this spectacle? Come on, people, stop it now.

Never more than a passable singer, Spears was once a shockingly charismatic physical presence: She was youthful freedom personified, her gorgeous form and defiant beauty absolutely Nabokovian.

But the fire has apparently gone out of her loins.

And though I strongly believe that within a great pop song an artist should be able to put her private life aside and build whatever fantasy she favors, it's hard to get into the robotic, libidinal drive of Britney's new song, "Gimme More," without thinking of those poor boys of hers, whose increasingly desperate "gimmes" seem to be going unheard.

Sexy never looked so sad.

-- Ann Powers

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