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Britney unplugged: Can Spears (actually) sing without 'Auto-Tune'?


One of several criticisms often lobbed at Ms. Britney Jean Spears is that she can't actually sing that well. It's common knowledge that the pop culture-happy diva is hesitant to do live vocals, though reportedly nearly half of her Femme Fatale concert is sung live (unlike Britney concerts of the past). And like many Top 40 superstars these days, it's pretty obvious that the vocals on her album have been Auto-Tuned within an inch of their life. Or have they? A new, supposedly Auto-Tune-free clip featuring the black-clad bride singing "Hold It Against Me" has surfaced online, prompting many to speculate that the pop tart's pipes might be stronger than we think. Hear it below.

First off, we'll say that, overall, this track sounds nearly identical to the single version in most places — so yes, Britney's singing is reasonably strong here.

But are these really 100% raw vocals? Have they not been processed at all? It's hard to tell. Can she really say "haaay-zaaay" like that without the aid of electronics? Or, next, will someone be telling us there's a live band in the studio performing that dub-step breakdown?

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Presumably, this is an early studio recording of the Femme Fatale track — but who knows, really? Team Britney is notoriously hush-hush about releasing any details that actually humanize her and might point out that she has flaws just like the rest of us. But if Britney can sing as well as she does on this track, why doesn't she sing live more often? Why Auto-Tune her so heavily?

All we'll say definitively for now is, she probably sings better than your average Marine.

What do you think? Is it time to stop holding Britney's vocals against her?

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Apr 28, 2013 5:47PM
Well, She IS a singer, she sang 80% of her Femme Fatale Tour LIVE, but her recorder, JIVE insists in show her with a perfect imagem, most of the singers uses autotune, playback and stuff. Madonna, Rihanna, Gaga, Beyoncé, all of them takes bad notes in live presentations, but they´re more free to do that. Britney has always required to sounds and looks perfect (though it doesn´t work always), but you can search for LIVE presentations of her last tour, and those aren´t bad, they´re good and sounds good. In another songs not released ('Everyday', 'LetGo') you can hear that she sings very well, but they´re not comercially appealing. That´s sad. That makes she not be taken that seriously.
May 31, 2012 10:21AM
This is a raw recording, you can tell since it is not compressed and had no noise gate filter. I would also like to say that the final version of this song does not have auto tune other than an occasional pith corrected note. The only difference between this and the final is that this has no backing vocals and harmonics. If the harmonies were removed on the final version it would sound almost identical to this (only difference would be the compression and noise gate). Britney has proven that she can sing. Search on YouTube for the song "everyday" by Britney Spears and you will see that she can. It is a song that was recorded for femme Fatale but RCA wouldn't put it on for whatever stupid reason. 

Jul 26, 2011 5:21PM
If she could actually sing without auto-tune, she would have been doing it all along. To now come out and present her as a serious singer is stupid. She IS an entertainer, of that there is no doubt. (not to me) She could put this whole thing to rest by doing something public before her critics (won't happen). However, are there really that many people who actually take her that seriously?. She's just a packaged product like so many other "stars" of today. I don't think anyone has attempted to compare her to Striesand, Karen Carpenter, Amy Whinehouse,--she is what she is------low level entertainment with an extremely high profit. 
Jul 26, 2011 9:26AM
No, she can't sing very well.  Her voice can't stand on it's own.  The entire song only has a range of about 5 notes.  She is, or was a good entertainer though so that counts for something. 
Jul 24, 2011 1:54PM
Everyone needs to leave her alone, i think she a great singer, and a lot better than Cristina A, now here is someone who sucks,
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