12 Times Britney Spears Actually Sang Live

Photo: Rick Rowell/ABC/ Getty Images.
Britney Spears lip-syncs for most of her televised performances. It's a well-known fact that's not even taboo anymore. Fans adore her for the whole package of dancing, stage presence, and all that hair-flipping to music that's good, even if it was pre-recorded. Though, before she began her Las Vegas residency in 2013, she told interviewers that she planned on singing live, once the show was under way, a member of her management team admitted she couldn't really do that.

"To put on the show that she puts on, it’s virtually impossible to sing the entire time and do what she does," Adam Leber told Taffy Brodesser-Akner on Medium in 2014. "She’s singing on every song, basically, when she has the ability to sing. There’s no way you can dance for 90 minutes straight and sing the entire time.”

That makes perfect sense. But the question still remains: can she sing live? We scoured the internet to find evidence of her voice during live performances throughout her career and learned that early on, she sang live a lot, even on TV. In recent years, however ... well, flip through to see what she's done.
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"I Don't Care," Star Search, 1992
Before she became known for the Mickey Mouse Club, she belted this out for Ed McMahon — and lost! Still, this is clear evidence of why people had faith in her vocal abilities from the start.
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Singapore Showcase, 1998
Earlier this year, MuuMuse obtained this 12-minute video of Spears labeled "Asian Conference Presentation Singapore" performed just before the release of ...Baby One More Time. Could we have loved her as an unadorned artist like this? Possibly.
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"...Baby One More Time," Donnie & Marie, 1999
In this performance, you can clearly hear Spears' live vocals. You can also see how she keeps her head steady and doesn't dance full-out like her back-up dancers in order to sing live — at some point, she must have decided that fully committing to her moves was the more important element of her shows.
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"(You Drive Me) Crazy" & "...Baby One More Time," Nickelodeon Big Help Concert, 1999
This Britney seems fully live and unafraid of a few off-key notes as she sings for the kids.
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"Satisfaction" & "Oops! ... I Did It Again," VMAs, 2000
Those are her signature deep vocals as she descends the stairs and does a striptease while covering the Rolling Stones classic. When she turns up the dancing for her own song, it looks like she might be getting help from a track. Who could sing live with all that hair in her face?
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"I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman," AMAs, 2002
In general, Spears seems much more comfortable singing these heartfelt ballads than her easier upbeat tunes. That backs the argument that it's the dancing that necessitates recorded tracks, not her voice itself.
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"I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman," Sanremo Festival, Italy, 2002
This televised concert is a favorite of fans who like to point out Britney's talent to the haters. It also shows that she really should sing low more often.
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"Everytime," In the Zone (ABC Special), 2003
If she's lip-synching here, it's the best lip-synching she's ever done.
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"You Oughta Know," Circus Tour, Greensboro Coliseum, 2009
Once Britney turns around and the fan taping this from the audience at this Circus tour stop in North Carolina gets to see her face, it's clear she really is singing the Alanis Morissette classic. She even pauses to let the audience sing a couple of words.
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"Everytime," Circus Tour, 2009
During this comeback tour, fans were very intent on capturing moments like this, proving that she really was back and up to par.
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"Happy Birthday," X Factor, 2012
Spears didn't always seem very comfortable as a judge on this show, but she did when she took full advantage of L.A. Reid's birthday to showcase her own voice. That run at the end is a little forced, but still a treat.
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"Carpool Karaoke," The Late Late Show, 2016
She may be lip-synching in every other live TV performance this year, but she definitely sang in the car with James Cordon in August. There were moments when she let Cordon and the radio take over for her, but that mostly seemed like she was embarrassed to be singing along with herself in a car (wouldn't you be?), not that she couldn't have done it all.
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