Britney Spears is not known for being a Maria Callas-style vocalist, or even for really singing live at all. But a leaked recording of an unedited vocal from her Britney Jean track "Alien" — which has gone viral over the past few days, and on which the pop star sounds like one of the strangled cats her old X Factor co-star Simon Cowell always complains about — is still pretty shocking.
While the audio certainly is toxic to the ears, the track's producer, electronic veteran William Orbit, has defended Spears, stressing that this is just a warm-up vocal, not an official studio take.
"Dearest Music Lovers, I have heard that Britney vocal link that everybody’s been discussing. It has been impossible not to as there have been many comments directing my attention to it. [I won’t re-posting it here]. I'd like to affirm that ANY singer when first at the mic at the start of a long session can make a multitude of vocalisations in order to get warmed up," Orbit stated. "Warming up is essential if you’re a pro, as it is with a runner doing stretches, and it takes a while to do properly. I’ve heard all manner of sounds emitted during warmups. The point is that it is not supposed to be shared with millions of listeners.
"A generous singer will put something down the mic to help the engineer get their systems warmed up and at the right level, maybe whilst having a cup of herb tea and checking through lyrics before the session really kicks off. It’s not expected to be a ‘take.' I think that 99% of you reading this will totally understand.Whomever put this on the internet must have done so in a spirit of unkindness, but it can in no way detract from the fact that Britney is and always will be beyond Stellar! She is magnificent! And that’s that."
It's worth noting that Orbit, who co-wrote the song, reportedly wanted a different version for the Britney Jean album. Last year, when a demo version of "Alien" leaked prior to the album's release, he took a potshot at Britney Jean's executive producer, will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas, after fans noticed an audio glitch in the song.
"Remember 'Glitchgate'? I assure you all that there will.be.no more glitches… If yr familiar my workings over the years, u'll know I'm usually in a position to intercept rogue glitches before they land," he tweeted. "One day the story will.be.told. But right now, the future is far too bright to look back."
A month ago, Orbit posted a remix of "Alien" that bore a great sonic similarity to his work on Madonna's classic dance album, Ray of Light. Perhaps this "Alien" is the version we all should be listening to: