Britney Spears' "Alien" Without Autotune Sounds Bad But You Can't Write Her Off That Easily
I'd estimate that there are very few people in this world who would react with shock or awe to the statement "Britney Spears lip syncs." Spears is a superstar, for sure, but it could be argued that it has been quite a while since much weight was placed on the power of her voice. So when an "unedited vocal version" of Britney Spears singing the track "Alien" was recently leaked — aka a version that has yet to be saturated with autotune — it wasn't the giant bombshell it could have been. But it wasn't great, either.
The track, as many will attest, is pretty rough. Not godawful, but certainly rougher than one might initially expect from a professional singer. But, as Spears' track producer William Orbit responded in a statement Monday, the track we're hearing might very well be par for the course:
I'd like to affirm that ANY singer when first at the mic at the start of a long session can make a multitude of vocalisations in order to get warmed up. Warming up is essential if you’re a pro, as it is with a runner doing stretches, and it takes a while to do properly. I’ve heard all manner of sounds emitted during warm-ups. The point is that it is not supposed to be shared with millions of listeners.[...] A generous singer will put something down the mic to help the engineer get their systems warmed up and at the right level, maybe whilst having a cup of herb tea and checking through lyrics before the session really kicks off. It’s not expected to be a 'take.'
It's obviously up for interpretation as to whether or not the statement was a PR wrangling move or the truth, but it certainly seems believable that the Spears recording could have been a rehearsal.
And even if it wasn't, does it really matter? Britney Spears is many things, and Christina Aguilera is not one of them. Beyoncé is not one of them. Adele is not one of them. We don't expect her to be a vocal powerhouse; we expect her to give us some catchy pop songs and put on a really good show. And she's done just that for over a decade and a half.