Is Lady Gaga a Better Singer Than Britney Spears?

Stans for performers with powerhouse voices always whip out what they think is their trump card: in Lady Gaga’s not-so-modest phrasing — “the bitch can sing.” Stans for Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, and Lady Gaga are most frequently seen deploying this argument, which is no surprise: it’s easy to instantly appreciate a singer who can belt out an intimidating soul ballad with ease. The implication is clear: Britney Spears, in the final analysis, simply cannot sing very well.

As usual, the Little Monsters have it all wrong. They and their stan allies — and, alas, many music critics — erroneously conflate having a powerhouse voice with having a quality voice. This unfortunate mixing is meant to undercut singers who can’t belt out the soulful ballads: women like Kylie Minogue, Ke$ha, and, yes — Britney Spears.

I happen to prefer the latter three to the former three. It’s not that their voices aren’t as good — they’re simply different. While someone like Britney would surely struggle to match the spin that Lady Gaga can put on a rock ballad like “Speechless,” it’s well-nigh impossible to imagine Lady Gaga being able to match Britney’s performance on “Breathe On Me” — or Kylie Minogue’s on “Chocolate.” Rock ballads are well-suited to powerhouse voices like Gaga’s — but when a sensual, subtle performance is called for, the likes of Lady Gaga simply can’t match a voice like Britney’s.

Different songs call for different interpretations — and hence for different voices. Whether a person “can sing” depends on the kind of material they’re tackling — and all of the performers I listed work with people who help them cater to their strengths. Lady Gaga won’t be caught dead trying to take on a sensual, sexy song like “Chocolate” or “Breathe On Me,” while Britney will surely never attempt a rock ballad like “Speechless” or a soulful song like Christina’s “Bound to You.” It’s not that one is necessarily “better”: they’re simply different. With that in mind, we can view this truth in a very positive light: all of the women I listed are good singers, and no clear-headed stan has anything to be at another’s throat for.

 

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22 Comments

  1. Ryan
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 1:26 am | Permalink | Reply

    lets get real. britney can’t sing at all. she lip syncs every performance. all of her music is autotuned. hold it against me and 3 sound like they were sung by an robot.

    • Posted January 19, 2011 at 2:10 am | Permalink | Reply

      Are you kidding me? The verses of Hold It Against Me let her voice come through crisp and clear.

      • Ryan
        Posted January 19, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Oh please. If you can’t hear the digital modifications you’re deaf. In fact they’re used as a purposeful effect in many places. Been listening to pop so long you don’t know what a real voice sounds like eh?

        I’m not saying that hold it against me isn’t catchy, or that Britney is a bad act. But the fact that she rarely sings live, when performers like Rihanna, Lady Gaga, or Beyonce do on occasion speaks volumes.

  2. Posted January 19, 2011 at 1:28 am | Permalink | Reply

    This post really opened my mind a bit! :O

    Thanks for another flawless post. ❤

  3. Posted January 19, 2011 at 1:29 am | Permalink | Reply

    The way Ryan misused “an” made me cringe.

  4. Ducky
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I would love if Britney did something like “Speechless”. Why? Because I know she can.
    Have you guys heard her “Let Go” demo. Her voice was full and soulful. This is what Slant Magazine said about the demo.

    “These demos don’t just humanize Britney, they make a case for what vocal ability and songwriting skills she actually possesses, and her decision to leave them in the recycle bin in favor of songs that underscore her caricatured, gum-snapping, helium-voiced stripper routine is a dubious one. It’s a side of Britney we’ve yet to really hear, and one that, for whatever reason, she feels compelled to keep hidden beneath a bad weave.”

    • Ashley
      Posted January 29, 2011 at 6:47 am | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for telling me about “Let Go” … love it!

  5. Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

    As a reply to Ryan on the thread above: most of what I listen to is metal, not pop, so, um, yes, I know an unmodified voice when I hear one. Of course there’s some tweaking: but for the most part, it shines through and is reminiscent of her voice on her earlier albums.

    Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, and Madonna are/were all notorious for their frequent lip-syncing. For some reason, only Britney takes a ton of shit for it. The Jacksons and Britney, however, were/are world-class dancers (here is where you’re going to give her shit over the Circus tour, after she’d just come out of a breakdown: let’s let her prove herself this era). If a performer dances — watch the Onyx Hotel tour — then not singing live is excusable.

    • Jennifer
      Posted May 3, 2011 at 1:34 am | Permalink | Reply

      When was the last time that Britney, Kesha or Katy perry sing complety live???? Exactly nobody know

  6. Posted January 20, 2011 at 1:43 am | Permalink | Reply

    @Ryan, you seem delusional.

    I barely just started to like Britney but even I can tell not all of HIAM is autotuned. Of course, some of it is. Let’s not pretend your faves don’t use it anyway.

  7. LadyBritBrit
    Posted January 20, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Exactly..
    Here’s where I mention Britneyology or PoorBritney/Britneyology.
    I find Gaga’s voice rather flat and hard to listen too.
    Britney can make her voice fit into any key and in any emotional range (Check out Britneyology)

    I think people would be suprised by how much plain singing is in her records, yes even Blackout. Freakshow had one auto tuned momant of madness and the rest was her doing her thing.

  8. FuX
    Posted January 23, 2011 at 7:01 am | Permalink | Reply

    Britney Can’t sing but gaga can sing

    britney is not even a singer

    ANd now,,, she can’t even dance LOL

    • LadyBritBrit
      Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:19 am | Permalink | Reply

      Did you see the end of the Circus tour, Mannequin rehearsals or Brian’s tweets.
      Shut up!
      and check out Let Go, or her videos of her in her youth, or even HIAM, that’s all her natural voice.
      beautiful sweet and engaging as it could be.

  9. Posted February 15, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I think people who claim that Britney can’t sing because she chooses not to sing LIVE are biased, ill-informed and ignorant. She sings brilliantly in the studio, and everyone who has ever encountered her in a studio setting confirms this.

    Obviously the haters will come back with “but everybody who says that is on her payroll or wants to get their song on her album”. That is incredibly disrespectful to dozens of music industry professionals and assumes that they have no integrity.

    But for those who are happy with their conspiracy theories, consider this: in a 12 year career, NOBODY has yet come forward to sell their story to the News OF The World saying “I was in the studio with Britney Spears and she couldn’t sing.”

  10. Marcel
    Posted April 4, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The unedited/un-autotuned versions of 3,Gimme More,HIAM,IUSA,BOMT and Womanizer are on the internet. She sounds amazing on them with her natural voice!

  11. gobbles
    Posted May 21, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Lady Gaga can’t sing. When she sings it makes me think her breath smells. Its a horrible, nasally, phlegmy whine. Also, just because she shouts, it doesn’t make it powerful. Good singers never need to shout.

    Britney, when she was a child, could sing as powerfully as Beyonce but her voice has deteriorated.

    • Tiana (Minion Of Gaga)
      Posted August 9, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

      It deteriorated because she tried to put on a fake voice to sound sexier for her songs. It screwed up her vocal cords after so many years of pitching and straining her voice like that.

    • Boomboom
      Posted November 15, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Lady Gaga can sing. This video is definetely proof of that.

      She’s not that awesome overall but she has a sweet voice, even if she does get shouty at parts.

  12. reny
    Posted June 30, 2011 at 12:18 am | Permalink | Reply

    lady gaga is way better singer than fatney spears lol gaga is so talented nd she never make playback like shitney lol

  13. megan
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Lady Gaga is a WAY better singer than bratney it sounds like bratney has a nasal condition!

  14. este
    Posted July 27, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I like Britney’s songs on her albums, but her live concerts always disappoint me. Too much showy stuff and not enough music. And it’s always a replay. Never truly live.

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