Photo Credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
Does Britney Spears work, work on her singing? As the pop star prepares to kick off her upcoming Las Vegas residency, a YouTube video from a 2001 Vegas engagement has been unearthed -- and it's not pretty. In the video, we see Spears at the height of her fame accompanied by the live feed from her microphone. Raw, live, and unedited, her singing is painful. Watch the video below:
But will it really keep fans from buying tickets? Yeah, it's pretty bad. In Britney's defense, though, she's doing a whole lot of nonstop dancing and moving, without falling back on lip-syncing, which is extremely difficult. This particular concert was filmed for HBO, so it may be that Britney did more live singing than she usually does onstage. She's certainly been known to lip sync in the past; maybe she was determined to do it live, just this once?
Or maybe she just sounded like this all the time, and with all the pyrotechnics and elaborate effects, no one noticed. Also keep in mind that these are the very worst moments from the show. Her HBO special was well-received, so she must have been pulling it off, for the most part.
However, there's a reason this video is being rediscovered now, which is that Britney is about to spend two years performing live in Las Vegas. Will fans still pay those big-ticket prices to see Spears live, knowing that this is how she really sounds?
Duh, of course they will. This is Britney Spears we're talking about!
As much of an icon as she is, Britney has never been a capital-s Singer. Her popularity is about her performances, her dancing, her style, and her relationship with fans. Singing is almost incidental. Let's think back to her first big breakout hit, "Baby One More Time." When people talked about that song, they talked about the catchy beat, or the controversial sexy-schoolgirl video. Compare that to Christina Aguilera's breakout hit from the same time period, "Genie in a Bottle." That song was designed to show off Christina's considerable vocal chops, and the buzz surrounding her focused on her incredible voice (and the fact that it came out of a tiny, cute little blonde girl). What Spears was offering was something completely different.
And Britney has never tried to sell herself any other way. There's a reason that her catalog doesn't include any soulful, belting-from-center-stage ballads. She doesn't have the voice for them, and she knows it. Her songs have simple melodies, no flashy sustained notes or runs (think Mariah Carey), and often are part-spoken, part-sung. In a way, that's why she's perfect for Las Vegas: she's all about the spectacle. Costume changes and elaborate set pieces have always been part of her package. She's also great at physically being onstage, moving gracefully, looking fabulous, and connecting with the audience. Fans in Las Vegas will eat her up, flats, sharps and all. And if you're going to Sin City to hear world-class singing? That's why Celine Dion is there.