A recent video emerged, allegedly ‘leaked’, claiming to show Britney Spears vocally naked. Stripped down to the original acapella, it shows Britney doing a take for the song ‘Alien’ for her Britney Jean album.
She is off key, wild abhorrent vibrato and just plainly not singing to a scale that is adopted in the western world – or so it appears in the video. Nevertheless, to my ears, something is fishy.
Whilst nobody has ever tried to suggest Spears is a vocal prodigy with a vast range, tonal control unbeknownst to vocal chords world over, she is able to hold a tune and definitely wouldn’t sound that off, or at least no professional producer would allow her to without going for another take and deleting all trace of something that horrendous. Not only that, but the leaked acapella sounds pitch corrected or more so pitch incorrected. It sounds so intentionally off that it is reminiscent of the infamous ‘shreds’ videos. In fact I’d go so far as to claim it is precisely what has happened. The actual acapella has been mistreated and some devious soul has used melodyne or some pitch correction software to throw it off intentionally.
For what gain though? And why pretend it has been leaked? Why did William Orbit jump to such a defence? Which in the process make me dislike him further – he was the man who intentionally leaked a poorly produced Blur comeback to spite Damon Albarn, even though all it proved was Orbit has no longer any idea how to produce something that is relevant and a reflection on the artist. See the end note for more about this.)
I am not alone in this thinking. Others have equally questioned the alleged leak and the motives behind it. Is it simply designed to cause some controversy? Perhaps a disgruntled junior at the record label decided to try and destroy Spears from the inside? Or most likely, it is some very elaborate hoax that seemingly has worked. This isn’t the first time Britney has had criticisms for her vocal performance and leaked clips to match. This ‘isolated’ feed from a 2001 show supposedly shows Spears singing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FU3aAEayUE&feature=kp However a few have questioned the legitimacy of the recording, and others have pointed out that she is meant to be only vaguely singing to keep the appearance to the actual vocal track look vaguely correct. Whilst some will always moan about anyone lip-syncing, when you see the amount of dancing, movement and various other things going on in the show it would make sense for her to mime at various points but sing along in guidance to at least try and keep the fiction alive. Not condoning the practice, just explaining how someone could be that off and why.
This video shows the acapella and the ‘leaked’ acapella: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiYOM9RPGCQ
The ‘leaked’ sounds artificially incorrect, whilst the ‘untouched’ sounds equally artificially yet pitched correctly. Another point is that to get that rigid snapped vocal tone, singers do have to sing intentionally flat to get the snap to sound more prominent and the attack to be instantaneous. Either way, something about the entire affair stinks of either publicity stunt or malicious intent. Guess it worked either way as people are still talking about it.
For reference, this is how William Orbit thought Blur should sound for the 21st Century: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xtnmn4CUX38
Auto-tuned horrendously, muddled and confused direction and generally a poor shout. The middle section has some interesting elements and that was removed for the final release, but either way the final released versions (full band and acoustic) are vastly better and produced correctly.