Britney Spears knows how to put on a show. With her fierce choreography, troupe of dancers, wild set, and expansive discography of pop hits, Brit knows how to command a stage.
Though the singer has had a successful career and currently performs in an acclaimed Vegas residency, since the beginning of her rise to pop stardom, it has been contested whether she actually sings live or lip-syncs. In fact, in a recent interview, Spears spoke to this point, saying, “It’s really funny: A lot of people think I don’t sing live. … Because I’m dancing so much, I do have a little bit of playback, but there’s a mixture of my voice and the playback.”
To give her credit, Spears does dance just about as much as her backup dancers, which would make it extremely difficult to give a full vocal performance. Even though Spears is often backed by playback, because she does give a killer performance, Billboard has pulled together seven of the best videos of Spears clearly singing live throughout her career.
Singapore Showcase (1998)
In this video from ’98, before Spears sky rocketed to fame with the release of her debut album …Baby One More Time, she is seen performing a number of album tracks with just a mic in hand. Here, at the start of her career, her voice feels raw, deep, and at the forefront of her performance.
“…Baby One More Time” on Donnie & Marie (1999)
Spears stopped by Donnie & Marie in 1999 to perform her hit “…Baby One More Time” and showcase her singing chops. In the performance, she keeps the dance moves to a minimum to make sure her vocals are on point.
“I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” (2002)
In this early 2000s clip of Spears singing “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman,” she sings in a lower register and highlights the natural fluctuations of her voice.
Since Britney’s ballads tend to largely be stripped of choreography, she seems more likely to lend her full vocals to her slower songs. Here, sitting atop a swing overlooking the crowd at an Onyx Hotel Tour concert in 2004, Brit gives a stunning rendition of her In the Zone deep cut “Shadow.”
“You Oughta Know” Cover (2009)
At an ’09 tour stop in Greensboro, North Carolina, Spears covered the Alanis Morissette classic “You Oughta Know,” focusing her performance on the powerful song as she stood behind her microphone stand and strutted around the stage.
Carpool Karaoke With James Corden (2016)
In 2016, the pop star stopped by The Late Late Show With James Corden for a round of Carpool Karaoke, and talked life and love with the show host, while singing along to her hits on the car radio.
“Oops I Did It Again” at Piece of Me Las Vegas Residency (2016)
As Spears recently said, she performs her Las Vegas residency Piece of Me with a mix of playback and her live voice, which you can hear in this video. You can see just how involved the iconic pop star’s entire show is based on this clip alone.