Britney Spears Was Not Madonna’s First Choice for 2003 MTV VMAs Kiss

In 2003, people watching the MTV Video Music Awards got more of a show than they were expecting. During a performance of her new song, Madonna planted a steamy kiss on one of the celebrities she was singing with, Britney Spears. The moment was shocking to many viewers, and it made headlines around the world.

Not many people realize that she also kissed Christina Aguilera, who was on stage with her too. Even fewer realize that neither of the women was her first choice.

Why didn’t most viewers see the other kiss, and who was the woman who missed out entirely? Here’s what you may not know about that iconic moment. 

2003 MTV Video Music Awards shocker

Britney Spears and Madonna during 2003 MTV Video Music Awards - Show at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, New York, United States.
Britney Spears and Madonna | Chris Polk/FilmMagic

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E! reports that in August 2003, Spears and Aguilera performed together at the MTV VMAs. They sang Madonna’s 1984 hit “Like a Virgin.” The two wore short, revealing dresses, reminiscent of the one Madonna wore in the original music video. Spears was obviously ready to leave her more innocent-looking past behind her. 

At the end of their duet, Madonna emerged from an oversized wedding cake to sing her new single, “Hollywood.” But although that collection of multi-generational and controversial stars would have been enough to keep people talking for weeks, they threw in a moment that is still remembered almost two decades later.

To cap off the highly sensual performance, Madonna turned, brushed the hair out of Spears’ face, and gave her a deep kiss. 

Christina Aguilera got a kiss too, but few saw it

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According to People, although many people remember that famous moment, not as many realize that Madonna then turned to Aguilera and planted a similar steamy kiss on her. That one wasn’t captured on film because the VMA producers quickly cut to a camera that was trained on the audience. The goal was to see how Justin Timberlake would react. He and Spears had recently broken up, and his stony-faced response made for dramatic live TV. 

“I saw the newspaper the next day,” Aguilera remembered, “and it was like, ‘Oh — well I guess I got left out of that one.’ “

She was able to shrug off missing out on most of the firestorm of attention that followed. But it turns out that she and Spears almost didn’t get the opportunity to appear on stage with Madonna at all. 

This star was Madonna’s first choice

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According to Digital Spy, this stunt had been in the works for a while. But the original plan was to have another famous woman on the receiving end of the kiss. The president of the MTV Music Group, Van Toffler, once admitted that Madonna had her eye on someone else.

“It was a long road to get to that Britney and Christina kiss, because they weren’t necessarily the first couple of people who were on the hit list,” Toffler said. “This may be the first time it’s revealed, but originally JLo was in the mix. That didn’t happen.”

Jennifer Lopez seems like an unusual choice, considering that the two successful stars have had a less-than-friendly relationship at times. Perhaps that’s why it didn’t work out, although it’s not clear exactly what happened. Regardless, Lopez passed on the opportunity, and Spears and Aguilera were happy to step in. 

Whatever the reason, history will long remember Spears and Madonna and the kiss that got everyone’s attention.