Britney Spears is 29 years old, which isn't really old at all, even for a pop star. And yet much of the talk surrounding her two new videos, "Hold It Against Me" and "Till the World Ends," and especially her live performances on Good Morning America and Jimmy Kimmel has centered around the erosion of her once formidable dance skills. Now, Girlfriend has been through an awful lot since "...Baby One More Time" seared eyeballs in 1999: marriage(s), divorce, kids, custody battles, public humiliations, corrosive scrutiny, ugly power-plays over control of her very being, and more. We can only imagine the toll that takes on someone's psyche, no less their body. (UPDATE: She also suffered a knee injury back in 2004, which could be a contributing factor to her onstage woodenness, although it doesn't explain that far-away look in her eyes.) And while our name isn't Dr. Drew, we would not be surprised to learn that Britney's motor skills have been downgraded by a prescription cocktail of psyschopharmaceuticals that have helped her reach some place of inner contentedness, maybe even happiness. Her new album is great, she's dating someone who doesn't seem to be pure evil, and she's starting her tour in Sacramento on June 17. We will go see her, of course (come with!), but we're more than a little uneasy about whether or not she's capable of handling the athletic challenges of a 21st-century arena show. Maybe her fans don't care; they're just glad she's upright and making awesome dance-pop and ohmygoditsbritney! But watch this video of Britney then vs. Britney now—inspired by the legendary 2002 nightclub dance-off between Britney and ex Justin Timberlake—and see if you don't get a little sad/concerned when you realize that "then" is less than ten years ago.
For lots more pics, videos and up-to-the-second dish on Britney, check out her Popdust Artist Page.