There are a lot of Britney haters on Popdirt. Many of them say that she “can’t sing” and that she is “talentless”. Here’s the case for the defense, with no excuses or pleas for mitigation.
And first of all here’s a good strong character witness! Read what P.Diddy says about working with her: “As a performer, as an artist, as a songwriter, she ain’t no slouch,” he said. “It was great working with her. She was real quick, real quick. I wouldn’t go into the studio with nothing that wouldn’t motivate me. The way she did it her way, that motivated me to get with her and give her a bit of my flavor mixed with hers, to get her to do something combustionable.”
So, even if fans of other singers can’t see what’s so good about her, there are people who know plenty about music who are impressed by her overall talent.
However the main case for the defense focuses directly on her singing ability.
It’s delusional to imagine that only singers with loud, hard, brassy voices like Christina Aguilera are any good. If you delve into the history of music through most of the last century you’ll find that singers with that kind of voice mostly worked on Broadway, in cabaret or on cruise ships. They only sang that way because they didn’t have very good amplification. Belting it out at the limits of your vocal chords is not good singing and harms your voice. As you get older, your vocal chords become thicker and stiffer and your voice becomes coarse and harsh. Is this what Christina’s fans want for their girl?
So that’s the stage singers. Recording artists have always been a much more diverse group. Okay, there are vocal gymnasts like Mariah Carey and strong ballad singers like Whitney Houston and Celine Dion. But many recording artists, like Peggy Lee or June Christy or Helen Merrill in the past or Katie Melua and Norah Jones in the present, had or have soft, subtle, flexible voices. Eartha Kitt growled, purred and talked her way through many a song and nobody said she had no talent. Each one of them gave their vocal personality and a very personal interpretation to a song.
In Britney Spears we have a girl who is made for recording. Her vocal coach from when she was a kid starting out in showbiz said she practiced endlessly till she got every song 100 percent perfect. She’s still like that today, and that’s why she doesn’t like singing live.
But what recordings she makes! Britney’s voice may not be all that strong or robust enough to sing a set every night on stage, but it has always had loads of character, variety, emotion, eroticism and experience beyond her years……and she just keeps developing more and more vocal subtlety and interpretative ability. Her album “In The Zone” is like a textbook on modern pop singing.
Strength (in Toxic and Boom Boom for example), vulnerability and fragility (Everytime), intense sexuality (Breathe on Me), playfulness (Early Morning), vocal lines that seem to float in the air (Don’t Hang Up), little throwaway asides, whispers, laughs, growls, sighs… Vocally she’s like nobody else, and in a class of her own at what she does.
She’s one of the few singers you can listen to over and over. With each listen of each song you discover more and more of her very personal and unobtrusive art which so few people in Popdirt seem able to appreciate.