Tag Archives: britney spears

Lady Gaga’s Real First-Week Sales Are…

Pigrez reports:

We knew it! We knew our wifey could do it!

Lady Gaga’s Born This Way is set to hit the 1 million sales mark in its opening week!!

Unit sales for the album were originally predicted to be around 800,000 copies, but with Amazon’s incredible 99 cent promotion, BTW will passing the 1.15 million mark.

A-ma-zing.

Except…

Industry sources told Billboard.biz on Friday that Amazon sold some 440,000 downloads of the album — nearly all of which were the 99-cent version (a more expensive deluxe version is also available).

Subtracting that number from the grand total leaves us with slightly over 700,000 albums sold. Let’s assume that ten percent of those buyers would have still bought the album, anyway (which is generous to Gaga, given that all three of the people I know who bought the album through Amazon would never have bought it for $12). That brings us to a grand total of 750,000 albums sold.

That’s pretty damn good. But it ain’t on the level of Speak Now or Tha Carter III — to say nothing of Oops!…I Did It Again, whose wig Gaga failed to snatch.

It’s an impressive total. The next question is: will Gaga set the record for the biggest sales percentage drop from #1? Albums like this usually drop around 60-70% in their second week out. With the Amazon deal gone, a 70% drop from 750,000 is a staggering 81% drop from the inflated total of 1.15 million. Gaga had better hope that the promotional blitz she’s been on keeps her afloat. If I had to guess today, I’d say that she’ll probably end up with something like 300,000 sold in her second week — still a massive drop, but enough to keep her from garnering embarrassing headlines.

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I’m Alive!

I’ve been distracted by the release of the best pop album of the decade (well, since 2010 began, anyway), Femme Fatale.

Trouble for Me, I Wanna Go, and Trip to Your Heart will change your lives!

Buy the album when it comes out on March 29th — or, better yet, the Premium Fan Edition!

More updates soon.

PS — Psst…I dragged Slant Magazine’s flop review of Femme Fatale, which asked what Britney’s appeal was:

Well, let’s try to answer your question: what is Britney’s appeal?

Obviously, much of her appeal depends upon the legacy she built during her first five years, which, in case you were in a coma for, were some of the most explosive that pop culture ever had the pleasure of experiencing. She was as ubiquitous and bombastic as Lady Gaga is today — without all of the haughty pretension that the latter is currently infecting the pop scene with. From the Catholic schoolgirl outfit (Britney’s idea) to the iconic VMA performances from ’00 (the glittery faux-nude outfit), ’01 (the snake) and ’03 (the Madonna kiss), to her world-class dancing, Britney always delivered a hypnotic, intoxicating set of imagery to go along with her world-class pop. She and her collaborators have delivered so many gems to us — …Baby One More Time, Oops!…I Did It Again, I’m a Slave 4 U, Toxic, Womanizer, and so on. Many of her hits were indeed co-written by her (including Me Against the Music and Everytime), but I don’t see why that matters. (By the way: who chose Toxic as a single? Who came up with the video idea? Britney. You don’t know that, of course, because Britney doesn’t care about getting all the credit, unlike some arrogant pop stars that I can think of.)

But quite frankly, much of her musical appeal is her distinct, unique voice. People confuse having a powerhouse voice with the ability to sing well. Britney Spears’ voice is, quite honestly, fantastic. It’s wonderful for pop. It’s got a thin, sexy, girlish quality that is also found in the likes of Kylie Minogue, another pop queen who confounds the critics. Those types of voices are perfect for sexy, minor-key-dominant pop. Ask yourself if Christina Aguilera could have ever pulled off a song like Kylie’s “Chocolate” or Britney’s “Breathe On Me.” Or even some of the new songs, like “(Drop Dead) Beautiful,” “Trip to Your Heart,” and “Trouble for Me.” Only a singer with Britney’s voice could have pulled those off. She is the essential ingredient in her music. Her songs wouldn’t work in the hands of Katy Perry or Rihanna. Hers is one of the only voices in the industry that is not interchangeable with someone else. It’s absolutely anything but generic.

And as for songwriting? Rihanna’s “Loud” has no credits to her but her voice. Mariah Carey doesn’t write her own songs. Beyonce steals songwriting credits, for God’s sake. But no one constantly criticizes them for their “lack of involvement” on their records — even though, as I’ve mentioned, Britney indeed has written or helped write a few of her big hits!

Is the reason that you people don’t ‘get’ this that Britney doesn’t care about promoting herself as the second coming, like Lady Gaga does? Thank God for it — the woman is as down-to-earth as it comes. She’d never go out there like Lady Gaga, talking about “giving birth to a new race” because of her cultural appeal. She is delightfully appealing as a person because she tries so hard to maintain some sense of normalcy. And my God, she was nearly destroyed by the media culture that created her — but she, unlike Elvis, unlike Whitney Houston, unlike Michael Jackson — came back and overcame her problems. She could have ended up destroyed like those other icons. She didn’t. She came back to hit #1 again and again and again. She’s had three #1s since her big comeback. It’s absolutely amazing, and not enough credit is given to her for how much she’s had to deal with and what she’s overcome. Maybe she made herself a target for stupid media critics, but she’s remained a real person throughout everything. She’s just the whole freakin’ pop package and I don’t understand why this is so difficult to understand.

Dragged that ho!

Look What I Found!

“Born This Way” to Open at #1; Smashes Records

Well, there you have it. In just three days, “Born This Way” registered over 450,000 downloads, smashing Britney Spears’ record (again) and is on-track to blast open Flo Rida and Ke$ha’s record for the biggest one-week sales tally. It will open at #1 on this week’s Billboard chart.

1) The song is still crap.

2) The fact that it’s the 1000th song to top the Hot 100 is an accident of time. It’s not an accomplishment of any sort, just a neat little number. It certainly has nothing to do with quality (or sales, although that record was broken on its own).

3) The question existing is: will this song have any longevity? The reception has been lukewarm and radio seems to be playing it simply because it’s Lady Gaga. Let’s see how it’s holding up in four weeks. Even with the Gaga Machine bulldozing everything in its path, the song’s mediocrity is apparent for everyone to hear.

That being said, this is what promotion will do. This era is shaping up more to be her Oops!…I Did It Again, not her Echo. And sane people will continue to wring their hands together.

Check Out Britney’s Grammy Outfit!

LOLLLLLLLLLLLL

 

“Born This Way” Smashes Radio Records

Media reviews and the general reaction from the pop blogosphere were decidedly mixed, but at least on the radio, Lady Gaga met expectations. The song annihilated Britney Spears’ recently-set record for “Hold It Against Me,” racking up three times as many spins as that song on its first day at radio. We can anticipate that the song will break the first-week record as well. How high can it go? I’ll go out on a limb and call 7,500 spins.

The hype behind this song — created mostly by Gaga herself — was enormous, and public interest in the woman has not let up. The question is whether this song will have any longevity. Curiosity cannot hold a song’s position forever: the general public actually has to respond to it. Nobody I know who wasn’t already a Little Critter actually cares much for the song. They listened or purchased out of curiosity, but were a bit surprised to not hear another “Bad Romance.” Born This Way has already fallen out of Twitter’s trending topics list, and DJs at multiple radio stations, including those in New York and Florida, have admitted that the song really is just a rip-off of “Express Yourself.” Online polls — including Pigrez Hilton’s — unanimously show that people prefer “Hold It Against Me” in a match-up.

Gaga steamrolled on the first day, and managed to match the hype with spins. But I’m not convinced she can keep this up. This song simply cannot sustain her for three months, and I still think they’ll end up releasing “Judas” by the second week of April.

Who Let a Stan Write PopJustice’s “Born This Way” Review?

PopJustice’s sycophantic review of “Born This Way,” which was obviously written by a crazed Lady Gaga stan, is such a hot, steaming mess that one hardly knows where to begin with it. I’ll simply take it paragraph by obnoxious paragraph and let my readers sort through the debris:

We’ll explain what happened that night in more detail at some other time but the point is that to have heard ‘Born This Way’ in May might seem like quite a big treat, but to be quite honest it has been a complete nightmare. Obviously if someone says to you “would you like to hear the next single” (even if at that point the next single was strictly ‘Alejandro’ but you know what we mean) you are hardly going to say “no I will leave it thanks very much” but the intervening months have been like torture. Imagine hearing an amazing song once, then not being able to hear it again. IMAGINE. The melody of this song has been haunting us for EIGHT MONTHS. We have been humming it on the bus. Imagining the video. We have literally had dreams about this song.

Seriously? Over a fifteen-second a capella rendition of half of the chorus? You’ve been having dreams about it, humming it; it’s been haunting you? Well, that didn’t take long: we’ve already given up the ghost! This clearly reveals that this article was written by a raging stan — and hence is impossible to take seriously as an editorial review. Stan reviews can be fun — I’m a Britney stan, as is known — but such writers shouldn’t claim impartiality, and certainly shouldn’t be writing on behalf of an entire site. Let this person review work by Pink, Rihanna, Katy Perry — but don’t let it review the person it stans for!

So hearing the song again for a second time, just before Christmas, was a relief. Not just because we were slightly less drunk on this occasion, but because the relative clarity allowed us to acknowledge the fact that, yes, ‘Born This Way’ really is just as special as our memory had led us to believe. It was handy also to be able to confirm that yes, the song did in fact exist and no, we hadn’t just somehow made the whole thing up.

So what’s it like?

Well it’s sort of amazing.

Actually it’s not sort of amazing, it just is amazing. And yes we would say that because we do genuinely think Lady Gaga is the best thing to happen to pop in at least 18 years. But we are also saying it because the song is amazing, and if that’s not complete objectivity we don’t know what is. (Well it’s not that for a start – Objectivity Ed)

Sorry, Britney. Sorry, Justin. Sorry, Beyonce. Sorry, Christina. Sorry, Pink. (Sorry, Max Martin!) We know you’ve all been chugging away since the 90s, but apparently you’ve all been outdone in the span of two years by someone who has yet to prove that she’s not the next flash-in-the-pan Paula Abdul. Unbelievable!

You want to know what it sounds like, obviously. Well, it is very straightforward song and the production matches that – compared with the all-guns-blazing sound of something like ‘Bad Romance’ or ‘Dance In The Dark’ ‘Born This Way’ offers a relatively sparse, crisp, glacial sound. Also, and this will undoubtedly prompt an amusing rage from Madonna fans incapable of comprehending a world in which more than one female singer can be popular, so brace yourself: ‘Born This Way’ sounds a bit like a modern nod to ‘Vogue’ and ‘Express Yourself’, with a bit of ‘Deeper & Deeper’ thrown in for good measure. The production is far from boring (it sounds great and nothing like what Gaga’s done before) but if you’re expecting some sort of death metal/Belgian techno crossover hit you may wish to adjust your expectations ahead of Friday’s first play. It’s a fresh sound, but in the mentalness stakes it’s not the sort of song you would fire across a field at a cow if you wanted to make it do an involuntary poo. We are sure the rest of the album will offer plenty of sonic ridiculousness but ‘Born This Way’ is all about giving the song itself room to breathe.

Glacial? Forgive me if I say that this sounds like little more than excuse-making for a production job that doesn’t quite measure up the promised “anthemic, sledge-hammering dance beats that’s a mix of techno, pop, rock, and — does she dare say it? — heavy metal.” (Note the apology: “We are sure the rest of the album will offer plenty of sonic ridiculousness.” Oh.)

Moreover, the fact that Britney Spears, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, and others were all skipped over in favor of Madonna comparisons again reveals that the author of the piece is a raging stan and is not to be trusted as an editorial reviewer. Lady Gaga is, in fact, part of a brand-new generation of stars — Ke$ha and Justin Bieber came out at around the same time that she did — and Madonna comparisons will not be appropriate until she has proven herself to have staying power. (“Toxic” came out over five years after Britney’s debut, for instance; “Hold It Against Me” was released over twelve years after and hit #1 immediately. If we’re going to talk about the heir to Madonna, let’s look at the woman she’s collaborated with and shared a stage with multiple times, not the neophyte.)

As for the song, you know the lyrics already, because Gaga posted them in full that night we did those lyric tweets. Reading the lyrics in isolation it might seem like a song with all the subtlety of George Michael collecting his holiday snaps but hearing the words in the context of the song itself the whole thing struck us as far less heavy handed, and as not so much a gay anthem as an equality song. It’s a song about gays being alright, but it’s also a song about straights being alright, and everyone else being alright too. It’s a freedom anthem, and you can’t go wrong with a bit of that. Having said this, ‘Born This Way’ will obviously be portrayed by many as a gay record. Is that a brave move?

In reverse order: Is that a brave move? Is sticking up for bullied gay teenagers brave? Well, I don’t know: is standing up against breast cancer brave? Is speaking out against Sarah Palin brave? Ridiculous. And yes, you actually can go wrong with that, when it’s handled in the ham-handed sort of way that mixes offensive, archaic racial terms (‘Oriental,’ ‘Chola’), nails-on-a-chalkboard cheesy love-yourself references, and blunt references to identity traits that are deployed with all the subtlety of a bulldozer.

This is an anthem, alright: for people with no sense of art, true individuality, or personal values. It’s also weirdly theistic, celebrating God’s love for his creations. But here’s the crux of the problem with the “Born This Way” lyrics — and why the song is not individualistic: Lady Gaga simply does not think that gays are unfairly singled out for their sexual orientation. To the contrary, in fact: she thinks that sexual orientation is extremely important and something to celebrate and revel in. Most gay people who are bullied or teased are upset because they see their sexual orientation as something irrelevant that shouldn’t determine how people see them. Lady Gaga, like the patronizing fag hag she is, looks at gay people and sees nothing but gay, gay, gay, gay, gay. And that’s what makes her such an unbearable cunt.

Well in one sense, while hardly commercial suicide, that sort of song will simply not sell as well as a song about, say, going clubbing or whatever. So it’s brave in a way, but it’s hardly true that there’s nothing to gain from all this. The Gays have not exactly sat on the fence vis a vis the whole ‘is Lady Gaga any good?’ debate, so she’s unlikely to win a large number of new fans, but in terms of strengthening ‘brand Gaga’ the idea of jeopardising sales in order to celebrate who you are will probably do her more good in the longterm. So if you were feeling uncharitable you might say that it’s a very elaborate and calculated positioning exercise, but it really doesn’t feel like it when you’re listening to the song. It just makes you feel very alright about whatever you happen to be. And, again, you can’t go wrong with a bit of that.

No, it does not make me “feel alright about whatever I happen to be.” What’s inspirational about a set of overwrought cliches, exactly? The song sounds like it was written by a middle school guidance counselor using motivational posters as his crib notes.

Perhaps this song would have, in fact, been very inspiring to me when I was thirteen and still unsure about whether I was gay, but it’s more than a bit pathetic to imagine anyone over the age of fifteen finding solace and comfort in such trite banalities. But thanks for telling us what ‘The Gays’ like, PopJustice — and for confirming that, like Mother Monster, Gaga’s stans view gay people as one undifferentiated, homogeneous mass.

Some people have asked us on Twitter how ‘Born This Way’ compares to other songs. Is it better than ‘Bad Romance’, a few people have wondered. In a battle between ‘Born This Way’ and the Britney single ‘Hold It Against Me’, others have asked, which song would win? Well to the first question it’s too early to say (we’ll hold our hands up here and say that the first couple of times we heard ‘Bad Romance’ we thought it sounded too much like ‘Poker Face’ – amazing) and to the second question we love ‘Hold It Against Me’ in some ways and we love ‘Born This Way’ in various other ways, but we prefer ‘Born This Way’. Come back to us in a few weeks once we’ve got used to both songs and ask us again, if you like.

Yes, I’m sure this Gaga stan reviewer is going to decide, a week later, that she actually prefers Britney.

What role will ‘Born This Way’ play in Lady Gaga’s ever-expanding discography?

Ever-expanding? Her second full-length album?

While her fan interaction is (for better or worse) already legendary, Gaga has always done a good job of seeming to exist, creatively, in something of a bubble. What’s interesting about ‘Born This Way’, however, is that it feels a bit like a response to two main criticisms people throw at Lady Gaga.

Oh, how I wonder if these will be strawman arguments…

Criticism 1: “You rip off Madonna all the time but don’t credit her.”
‘Born This Way’ answer: “Well how do you like this then, I’ve made a song that sounds like some of her big hits (but also like its own song), because OBVIOUSLY I know who Madonna is, it’s not as if I am somehow expecting you all to imagine that I have never heard of this ‘Madonna’ singer, it’s bloody Madonna after all isn’t it.”

No, that’s not the first criticism. The key criticism surrounding her style is her blatant theft of Roisin Murphy’s style. The entire Fame era’s wardrobe was stolen from her. This isn’t about Madonna: that’s a strawman argument set up by Monsters who are delusional enough to think that their Mother Monster is her true heir. The entire purpose of this non-argument is to put Lady Gaga’s name in the same sentence as Madonna, and nothing more.

Criticism 2: “You bang on about your bloody ‘Monsters’ all the time and you’re always going on about the gays this, the gays that, but then we listen to your music and it’s just stuff about going clubbing with a few abstract references to things being a bit weird sometimes.”
‘Born This Way’ answer: “Here’s a song that is specifically and explicitly about that sort of stuff, so piss off.”

She’s finally delivered on her constant nattering, but this doesn’t nullify her arrogant criticisms of other artists over the past year for apparently thieving her ‘be-yourself’ image and trying to make it “trendy,” (clearly a shot at Katy Perry and Ke$ha), nor does it enshrine her as a revolutionary leader of misfits and freaks. She fashions herself as a blazing comet in a dark sky, but what she’s given us is a song that’s little different, substantively, from Christina Aguilera’s (superior) “Beautiful.” Every banal cliche of self-help literature has been packed into “Born This Way.” But on the bright side: at least we know that she, not a professional songwriter, wrote the words. They’re really that bad that we know that a professional songwriter could have never written them.

It feels like ‘Born This Way’ is a bit of a turning point for Lady Gaga – on both those counts it’s the moment where she’s putting her money where her mouth is. It is certainly a big test, because the absurd level of hysteria building towards Friday’s premiere (and Sunday’s first performance) is putting a huge amount of pressure on the song itself. It’s almost an unfair amount of pressure, really. Can anything live up to this hype? Mind you, when you think about how much we and so many other people harp on about her being pop’s Second Coming, it’s only fair that expectations are high. Fortunately the song is, as we have already stated, amazing.

Only a Lady Gaga stan would fail to see the preposterous nature of this paragraph. The absurd level of hysteria surrounding “Born This Way” was created entirely by Lady Gaga herself. For months, she has been declaring her work the “greatest of the decade,” the “anthem for our generation,” and so forth. Her mouthpiece Pigrez Hilton swore it would “change the culture.” If there’s anyone to blame for a seemingly unfair level of hype, it’s her and her minions. She has overpromised, and she cannot possibly deliver on this. The lyrics have already proven that this is an exercise in self-indulgence.

So what happens next? Well, you’ll hear the song on Friday, then you’ll see it performed at the Grammys on Sunday. What we think will happen in the short term is that ‘Born This Way’ will make a massive short-term impact post-Grammys but will not instantly provide Gaga with the same sort of huge leap forward she experienced with ‘Bad Romance’. That job may well be done by the album’s second single, which will then lead into the album release. And then, over the next year or so, in the context of the rest of the album and with added familiarity, ‘Born This Way’ will seem like less of an ‘ooh look at me sorting out equality for a generation’ statement song and will instead just start to seem like a completely normal pop song. Which, ‘message-wise’, we suppose is sort of the whole point – you get in people’s faces so you don’t need to get in people’s faces any more. Perhaps the moment when ‘Born This Way’ clicks as a completely normal pop song is the moment when ‘Born This Way’ has changed pop.

The author once again reveals himself as a Gaga stan: “sorting out equality for a generation”? No…no, I’m sorry. It’s a pop song, and she’s a pop singer: one taken seriously as an art-eest only by her most deluded stans. Everyone else sees her as the chick who wraps herself up in meat and sings catchy songs about getting smashed at parties.

Or perhaps not. Perhaps we’ve drifted off on a wild tangent.

You’ve got it, hotshot.

Perhaps the whole song is awful – we’ve only heard it twice and we were really, really drunk on both occasions. But we are pretty sure that ‘Born This Way’ is a solid gold pop corker and we are going to stand by that claim until further notice.

Gaga stans are in for a world of serious hurt. They have not caught on to the fact that most people purchasing Lady Gaga’s songs from iTunes are doing so because they see her, to reiterate, as the chick who wraps herself up in meat and sings catchy dance songs about getting smashed at clubs with Beyonce. They simply do not see her as a revolutionary, avant-garde voice for the voiceless. The disconnect between stan and general-public perception of Lady Gaga is so striking and so glaring and that I cannot see how this yay-for-gay project is going to pan out well for Lady Gaga. If this is an album for her gay fans who love that a celebrity will be their fag hag, so be it. But she’s walking a thin, thin tightrope if she wants this trite mess to match the commercial success of the Fame/Fame Monster eras.

Lady Gaga is an artist who desperately needs taken down a notch. If this banal, self-indulgent, over-hyped mess doesn’t harm her, then she’s probably going to be accepted for the long haul. This will, at any rate, be an interesting year: it will prove to us all whether the Lady Gaga phenomenon will be transient. If God makes no mistakes, then she should be in for a backlash on the charts.

The Stupdity of Comparing Britney and Gaga’s Lyrics

Little Monsters have offered up their new defense: “So you’re gonna tell the lyrics to Hold It Against Me are so great?”

Of course they’re not. But then, Britney isn’t the one heralding her music as anything other than fun dance-pop music, is she? If Britney were bragging to reporters that she had crafted the “anthem for our generation” and then released something like “Hold It Against Me,” then we might begin to legitimately ask such questions. But Britney — like another artist I quite like, Ke$ha — has never sold her music as anything other than what it is.

This brings us back to a point I make in my original essay about Lady Gaga: the heart of problem here is the disconnect between perception and reality. Gaga is selling her music as anthemic, generation-defining music. It is actually nothing of the sort. The lyrics to “Born This Way” are absolutely embarrassing. If you’re going to tell me that your lyrics define our generation and they end up being nothing but a giant pile of shit, then I’m going to have a problem. If you tell me that your song is “meaningful,” then I’m going to take a close look at the lyrics and judge them accordingly. Britney has never claimed that “Hold It Against Me” is a deep, inspirational anthem: just an awesome club track. Hence, there can be no comparison.

The Autotune Myth

It’s the new buzzword amongst pop music’s critics: Autotune. Run a quick Google search and you can find a plethora of complaints: “Everything on the radio is ‘autotuned'”; an artist’s voice has been “autotuned to death”; “Autotune is killing music.” Some hack in the comments section said that “Hold It Against Me” was marred by “Britney’s autotuned voice.”

Please. This stupid cliche is debasing music criticism — and people don’t even understand what Autotune actually is.

Myth: Autotune can make a bad singer sound good

Although the term carries connotations of magically transforming awful singers into divas, “Autotune” is nothing more than simple pitch correction. If an artist is somewhat off on a note — if that A-sharp just didn’t ring unequivocally — it can be tweaked to make it clear and consistent. If a producer wants to play around with the melody of a song, he can alter the pitch even further. The most ‘autotuned’ song I’ve listened to in a while is “Animal (Billboard Remix)” by Ke$ha. Compare the original with the remix.

If you want to make a bad singer sound tolerable, then adding reverb, echo effect, vocal layering, and endless harmonies is your best bet. Terrible tone will still be terrible, regardless of whether that note is an F or a G. (Witness Heidi Montag’s “Superficial”: nothing can cover the fact that she simply is not a very good singer.)

Myth: Autotune is only found in Top 40 music

Autotune is used by rock singers, metal bands, soul divas, and gospel artists. It’s meant — like other vocal effects — to add gloss to a professional, studio-quality recording. It didn’t start with Cher, Daft Punk, or T-Pain — they simply found that they could play around with pitch-correction to create a futuristic effect. But autotune on its own is very common and is hardly limited to Top-40 music.

Myth: Autotune is harming music

Who wants to listen to a second-rate rendition of a quality song? When I hear a song, I want it to come through crisp, clean, and clear: just as the songwriters and singers idealize it. “Animal” is not merely a verdict on Ke$ha as the vocalist, but on Greg Kurstin, Dr. Luke, Pebe Sebert, and the small army of producers and engineers behind it. It’s meant to be a finished product: our judgment of Ke$ha’s vocal abilities, in a vacuum, is an entirely separate matter. I want to hear that song as it was meant to be heard — and so do all of the short-sighted critics, whether they want to admit it or not. If purity of recording is what you want, that can be found in black metal and the Juno soundtrack — they sure ain’t usin’ pitch correction there. But few people actually prefer that music to a good pop or rock song.

So stop complaining.

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.