Britney Spears Sounds Bad Without Autotune. So What?

Britney SpearsMusic Video Courtesy of Hillerz

This morning the music world hit critical mass when it came to lambasting Britney Spears’s leaked unfiltered recording of “Alien”. Articles have been coming in for the past week labeling her voice as “Horrific” and “Terrible”. It seems the music world just can’t handle the fact that an artist who adjusts her voice electronically to sound pleasant may actually need to adjust her voice electronically to sound pleasant.

Record producer William Orbit posted the comment on Facebook this Tuesday: “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 vocalizations 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 warmups. 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’.

Personally, the audio sounds too clean and cut together to be a simple warm up track. It would be another story if it was only her voice was present, but the presence of backup vocals, synth, and editing suggest this is more than the mulligan take Orbit wants us to believe it is.

That being said, it doesn’t it matter. I’m sure Britney Spears may actually have a great voice, but I’m even more certain that her voice is not the reason she has become a star and it’s not the reason people love her. Her responsibility is to occupy the processed and electronic musical role society worships her for, not to be Pavarotti. It’s unfair to love her with electronic enhancements but then turn around and condemn her for sounding bad when her weapons are taken away.

Yes, her natural voice sounds unimpressive but to call it “horrific” or “nails on a chalkboard” as some tabloids are labeling it is to admit to having some foolish expectations. And if  anyone really believed Spears had to have the natural voice of an angel then they deserved to be disappointed.

The leaked autotune-less track can be found on Youtube. After you’ve listened to that, compare it with the original and make your own judgments.