It was “obvious” the instant Britney Spears took the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards Sunday night to “a standing ovation” that she had sealed her “comeback,” said Liz Barrett in Not only did she win awards for all three of the categories she was nominated in, she also “looked absolutely stunning.”

Britney’s “sweep felt meaningless,” said Ann Powers in the Los Angeles Times blog The Envelope, “because the actual winners are the least important part of this staged and schticky media event.” Her “triumph felt almost scheduled—a year to the day since her failure to perform banished her, the prodigal daughter returns to the corporate pop fold.” Yawn.

The bar wasn’t exactly “set too high” for Spears, said Lizo Mzimba in the BBC News, as she didn’t even have to perform any songs at the VMAs. But still, the crowd loved her, and “the reaction from the press has been largely positive.” If she can continue her recovery, this year’s VMAs “could well be seen as the most significant turning point of her career.”