Britney Spears Had a Panic Attack Because of ‘Gimme More’ VMAs Performance: ‘Knew It Was Going to Be Bad’

The pop icon released her memoir, ‘The Woman in Me,’

Britney Spears performs during the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards

Britney Spears performs at the MTV VMAs in September 2007 in Las Vegas. PHOTO: JASON SQUIRES/WIREIMAGE

Britney Spears is opening up about one of the most challenging performances of her career and the controversy that followed.

In her newly released memoir The Woman in Me, Spears, now 41, revealed that she had a panic attack backstage at the 2007 MTV VMAs just before her performance of “Gimme More,” which was widely criticized at the time.

The superstar said that, despite experiencing a difficult year in 2007, she was encouraged to perform for the first time in three years that September in order to promote her album Blackout, which was due out the next month. “I didn’t want to, but my team was pressuring me to get out there and show the world I was fine,” she wrote. “The only problem with this plan: I was not fine.”

Britney Spears performs "Gimme More" at the 2007 Video Music Awards

Britney Spears performing “Gimme More” at the 2007 MTV VMAs.MICHAEL CAULFIELD/WIREIMAGE

On the night of the VMAs, the “Hold Me Closer” singer said that “nothing was going right.”

“I hadn’t slept the night before. I was dizzy. It was less than a year since I’d had my second baby in two years but everyone was acting like my not having six-pack abs was offensive. I couldn’t believe I was going to have to go out onstage feeling the way I felt,” she wrote. “I was having a panic attack. I hadn’t rehearsed enough. I hated the way I looked. I knew it was going to be bad.”

Spears, who had had a public breakdown seven months before, wrote, “I went out there and did the best I could at that moment in time, which — yes, granted — was far from my best at other times. I could see myself on video throughout the auditorium while I performed; it was like looking at myself in a fun-house mirror.”

The Grammy winner said that she ran into her ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake, from whom she had split five years prior, backstage for the first time after a long while. “You also don’t usually have one of the worst days of your life in the exact place and time that your ex has one of his best,” she wrote, referring to the pop artist’s solo and joint performance with Timbaland and Nelly Furtado.

Britney Spears, The Woman In Me Book Cover

Britney Spears’ The Woman in Me.

“Later that night, the comedian Sarah Silverman came out onstage to roast me. She said that at age of twenty-five I’d done everything worthwhile in my life I’d ever do. She called my two babies ‘the most adorable mistakes you’ll ever see,’” the “Toxic” singer continued. “I didn’t hear that until later, though. At the time I was backstage sobbing hysterically.”

(Silverman apologized in 2021, writing on Twitter that she “had no idea” Spears “didn’t kill” her performance. “I wish I could delete it but I can’t.”)

Spears’ memoir The Woman in Me arrived Tuesday through Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

It came nearly two years after the “Circus” singer was released from her 13-year court-ordered conservatorship. The conservatorship was terminated in November 2021 after Spears delivered a public testimony earlier that year.

Britney Spears PEOPLE exclusive


Ahead of the memoir’s release, the pop superstar appeared in an exclusive PEOPLE cover story. In an email interview, she opened up about her journey towards being able to tell her own story.

“Over the past 15 years or even at the start of my career, I sat back while people spoke about me and told my story for me,” the performer explained. “After getting out of my conservatorship, I was finally free to tell my story without consequences from the people in charge of my life.”

“It is finally time for me to raise my voice and speak out, and my fans deserve to hear it directly from me,” she said. “No more conspiracy, no more lies — just me owning my past, present and future.”

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