Britney Spears
Credit: Britney Spears: Michael Caulfield/WireImage

I should have known that Britney Spears’ big Video Music Awards performance would have been uncomfortable to watch the moment it opened, with that closeup of the weave tracks in the back of her head (seriously, MTV camera folks, didja think that was a flattering angle?). But I wasn’t quite prepared for the awkward mess in store, as Britney gallumphed around like a zombie while lip-synching to her new single, “Gimme More.”

I was really rooting for Britney to be awesome and get the show off on the right foot. And by all rights, she should have rocked — “Gimme More” has been received amazingly well (it’s no “Toxic,” but admit it, it’s better than you expected) — and we have all those fond memories of Brit Brit from VMAs past (with the python, with Madonna and Xtina). But instead of watching a sexy, exciting performance — a resounding statement that yes, she IS Britney, bitch — I saw a tentative, confused-looking girl who could barely muster the energy to mouth along with the backing track, let alone work those stilleto boots. Britney, if you’re gonna lip-synch, at least be entertaining!

PopWatchers, am I being too harsh?

UPDATE: If you haven’t seen Britney’s performance, you can watch it after the jump, via this clip from AOL Music. (If you watch the clip on the AOL Music page, it’s preceded by an anti-drug PSA. Think AOL is trying to send a message?)