Call it What it Is: Britney Spears and "Live Performance"

Posted 3/25/2010 by JDub in Labels: , , ,

Dear Readers: I am posting this as a discussion piece, so please make sure you leave your comments below.

Some friends of mine recently saw Britney live in Greensboro, North Carolina, and they were raving about her performance. It seems that she actually sang two or three of her songs at this particular show, which I've come to understand is highly unusual for her. Britney has long been known for her lip-synced shows, and plenty of people are upset. Everyone remembers the stink around Ashlee Simpson's famous snafu on SNL..

Still, this public knowledge does not keep Britney's concerts from selling out, and her ticket prices can border on the insane. There is no denying the huge market out there for what she and her contemporaries are doing, but I think everyone could benefit from a little change in nomenclature.

People aren't paying to see Britney make music, they are paying, rather, to see her put on a great show. They don't line up down the block to see her create, they wait to see her execute her highly choreographed and endlessly rehearsed set of dances while pretending to sing (most of the time). Granted, someone somewhere had to create the backing tracks and the lyrics and the costuming and the dance moves and the lighting effects... But my point is that none of this creation actually takes place on stage, the show itself is created beforehand.

This, to me, is not at all the same thing as what a group such as Radiohead, for example, does when they put on a show, and you can bet if their fans caught wind that there was any lip-syncing going on there at all, it would cheapen the experience.

So a group like Radiohead sets out to play their music live on stage in front of a crowd of fans, while the Britney types are simply performing to pre-recorded tracks (more often than not). I should point out, though, that I certainly do not mean to be making value judgments against Miss Spears, or any performer for that matter. I'm not saying a band which makes music on stage is somehow better than a lip-syncer.. That's for you to decide.

What I am saying is that, strictly speaking, Britney is not making music, and she thereby should not be referred to as a musician, or categorized with them either. Instead, I say we call it was it is: Live Performance. Let us not compare apples and oranges any longer. Perhaps Billboard should consider compiling a "Top 40" list of "Performers," and a "Top 40" list of "Musicians" (or something similar). I see no reason in the world why Pop stars should be held to the same standards as groups who truly create music when they perform (and vice versa).

Again, we're interested in your opinion, so please comment!

1 comment(s) to... “Call it What it Is: Britney Spears and "Live Performance"”


CtotheB said...

Definitely on point. Prior to this I would have never seen the validity in Spears as a performer vs. a musician. Makes a lot of sense.

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