Britney Spears Will Kick Off The 2008 VMAs! Britney’s Back, For Real!

Britney’s back — for REALS — and honestly, we’re probably as amazed and eagerly anxious as you are. Except for those of you hardcore Britney fans who aren’t shocked at all; both Britney’s personal life and career have been on an upswing, and her just-announced appearance at this Sunday’s VMAs may be just the beginning of her total transformation after a chaotic, drama-filled year. Here’s a look back at Britney’s top all-time top VMA moments, from the is-she-naked body suit, to the slithering “Slave 4 U” snake, to the Madonna kiss seen ‘round the world.

1999 MTV VMAs: A then-17-year-old Britney teamed up with *NSYNC at the 1999 VMAs for their classroom-themed performance of “Baby One More Time” and “Tearin’ Up My Heart,” cementing her image as a sexy, suggestive school girl on our collective conscience forever. Hailed as the next Madonna, she quickly lapped the boy band she once opened for (fronted by then-boyfriend Justin Timberlake); when her album eventually went certified platinum 14 times, she graduated from opening act to main attraction. (Watch the performance here.)

2000 MTV VMAs: Britney and  Christina Aguilera, both former Mouseketeers, proved there was no hate between the pop princesses when they presented an award together. That same night, then-18-year-old Britney shocked the world with a not-that-innocent live performance — a mash-up of the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” and her own hit, “Oops … I Did It Again,” which took on new meaning when a she ripped off a pinstripe suit and fedora (so Fosse!) to reveal a nearly naked bodysuit. Not a girl indeed.

2001 MTV VMAs: Britney’s “Slave 4 U” got a very “Welcome to the Jungle” makeover when Britney slithered onto the stage at the 2001 VMAs in a leafy Garden of Eden-meets-Maxim mag two-piece, enshrouded in an albino python, complemented by a caged tiger, and dancers dressed like zebras. PETA was not amused, but it was one of Britney’s most iconic, awe-inspiring performances ever. (Watch the performance here.)

2002 MTV VMAs: Britney didn’t perform at the 2002 VMAs, but she didn’t need to — that year Forbes magazine named her the world’s most powerful celebrity of 2002. The same year she played a virgin in the movie Crossroads, she hit the 2002 VMAs dressed like a dominatrix, and left the spotlight -– and the scandal –- to Michael Jackson, who mistook the birthday cake she presented him as a lifetime achievement award. Oops…

2003 MTV VMAs: Two years before the birth of her first son, Britney teamed up with Christina Aguilera and Madonna in an homage to the same song Madonna opened the first-ever VMAs with in 1984. Dressed like a bawdy bride, Britney locked lips with Madonna and created the most scandalous make-out moment in VMA history. (Watch the performance here.)

2006 MTV VMAs: By then a married mother with her second kid on the way, Britney and Kevin Federline checked into the VMAs via video to present the year’s Best R&B Video.

2007 MTV VMAs: Britney continued a scandal-plagued year by opening the 2007 VMAs with one of her most-discussed performances ever.

2008 MTV VMAs: Britney adds to her 16 nominations, (no wins… yet) with three additional nominations (Video of the Year, Best Pop Video, and Best Female Video), shows the world she’s on the mend when she appears with Russell Brand and a massive elephant in promo spots for the 2008 VMAs -– looking more radiant than ever.

We know she’ll be opening the show, but what will the big moment hold? We don’t know, but if Britney’s involved, it’s gonna mean we’re gonna be talking about it. And talking about it. Will Britney’s next VMA appearance be a serious one? Or will it employ some of the syrupy Southern sweetness that originally endeared her to America? Will other celebrities join her on the stage and show their support, or will she make her mark solo?

Watch the 2008 VMAs on Sunday, September 7 at 9pm sharp to see what Britney’s got planned for her next VMA mega-moment.