Vocal Type: Soubrette
Vocal Range: 4 octaves F#2- F#6
Vocal Pluses: Britney Spear's strength comes from her unique vocal timbre. Nasal and childlike the sound produced helps to distinguish her from others, being instantly recognisable. Capable of melisma [Gimme More], the ability to hold notes [I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman] and to jump to different octaves [Mona Lisa], she has displayed proficiency (in the studio) that suggests some skill.
At its very bottom, the lows are produced with vocal fry. This allows Britney to hit notes in the second octave with a guttural sound that is at odds with the range as a whole [Me Against The Music]. Like the top of her range, she uses this mostly to harmonise and provide contrast to a vocal line. When hitting the lower range with her modal voice, it is at its most "normal". Here the voice is less able to take a nasal position, and is as such as close to "natural" as Britney's singing voice usually gets [Make Me/ Freakshow].
The midrange sees the child-like, nasal timbre start to manifest [Ooh La La]. The voice can sound heavily processed, metallic, clean and robotic [Work] or more human-like, with a softer, rounded edge to it [Toxic]. Both lead seamlessly into the the belting range.
At the lower end of the belt, Britney is able to create a fuller, darker sound by depressing the larynx [Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know], but it's her nasal placement and shedding of weight that allows her to stretch into the fifth octave without any audible signs of stress or strain [Hot As Ice ]. Almost translucent, the sound produced is colourless, cold and featherweight. After the Eb5 mark the voice takes a head-dominate mix, producing a sound that is warmer and noticeably headier in tone [harmony of Baby One More Time].
The top of the range is used in its falsetto. It's the part of the voice that is most universally palatable being soft, feminine and sweet [When I Found You]. Capable here, it offers respite to the Marmite-like tone of the ranges below .
Vocal Negatives: The overarching childlike sound of the voice is perhaps the Diva's biggest strength and weakness. Though it makes Britney's voice easily identifiable, it is unstable, making it difficult to keep in tune in a live setting [example].