MTV Video Music Awards
August 29, 2003
Madonna performs "Hollywood" with Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliott at the MTV Video Music Awards.
To start marketing American Life, Madonna performed the American Life Promo Tour. A performance on Tower's Fourth Street in Manhattan was presented to around 400 people and featured acoustic performances of "American Life", "Mother and Father", and "Hollywood". On August 27, 2003, Madonna opened the MTV Video Music Awards performing a medley of "Like a Virgin/Hollywood" with Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Missy Elliott. The performance started with Madonna's daughter Lourdes walking on stage with another girl, dressed as flower girls at a wedding. Spears appeared on stage atop of a giant wedding cake, wearing a wedding gown and veil; she sang the first few lines of "Like a Virgin" before Aguilera appeared from behind the cake and joined her. Madonna then emerged from the cake wearing a black coat and hat and started singing "Hollywood" before proceeding to kiss Spears and Aguilera on the lips. Missy Elliott came out from a wedding chapel to sing her song "Work It" halfway through the performance. The whole performance was a tribute to Madonna and an homage to her performance of "Like a Virgin" at the awards' inaugural show in 1984.
The kiss generated strong reaction from the media and the celebrities alike. Nekesa Mumbi Moody from Associated Press deduced "Twenty years after the first MTV Video Music Awards, and not much has changed — Madonna still makes jaws drop and cheeks blush." Brian Hiatt from Entertainment Weekly felt that "The close-up of [Madonna] locking lips with the 21-year-old Spears was an indelible MTV moment — sexy, vaguely transgressive, and as meaningless as it was entertaining." Elysa Gardner from USA Today explained that the performance "offered a poignant reminder of MTV's role in defining a youth culture that has become something of a tease — winking at convention without offering any fresh alternatives." The MTV producers were skeptical, saying that "It was sensational, but I wonder what the good folk in places like Provo, Utah state, would make of it. Middle America is not gonna let this one go lightly." When asked about it, Madonna revealed, "I am kissing [Britney] and passing my energy on to her. Like kind of a mythological fairytale." The performance was listed by Blender magazine as one of the twenty-five sexiest music moments on television history. MTV listed the performance as the number-one opening moment in the history of the MTV Video Music Awards. In Madonna's 2004 Re-Invention World Tour, a remix interlude of "Hollywood" featured a breakdancer, a firedancer, a bellydancer, a tapdancer, and a skateboarder. The screens displayed animations of tarot cards. The performance was included in the I'm Going to Tell You a Secret live album and documentary. On the same tour, the performance of "Into the Groove" contained samples from the remix "Into the Hollywood Groove"