The Crime of Lip Syncing

Nicholas Moen, Staff Writer

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This past New Year’s Eve, right before the ball dropped, millions of people around the world witnessed the absolute catastrophe of Mrs. Mariah Carey’s performance.  According to CNN, “the singer was given a malfunctioning ear piece, and complained about it before the performance.”  After receiving a new ear piece that still didn’t work, Mrs. Carey was told the vocals would start playing when cameras went live.  Of course, that never happened.  

It was obvious Mrs. Carey was prepared to lip sync the entire show, as in the middle of her first song–Auld Lang Syne–she clearly stops mouthing the lyrics entirely while her vocals continue to play.  Now, if Mrs. Carey would’ve been able to hear her vocals, it would have been less noticeable, and it’s likely the public wouldn’t have gone as insane as they did.  However, it brings up a very important question: should artists be allowed lip sync?

This obviously isn’t the first time it’s happened before.  There was Beyonce’s National Anthem bust back at Obama’s 2013 Inauguration, and Mrs. Ashlee Simpson’s blunder on Saturday Night Live in 2004.  However, by far the most scandalous was Milli Vanilli, who used backing tracks during all their performances as their real voices weren’t even featured on their album.  

Many singers have used very convincing reasons for their lip syncing.   According to Billboard, Beyonce hadn’t done a sound check and didn’t have time to rehearse with the orchestra.  But if she’s too busy to practice, why not find another singer?  Why not have a singer that realizes the immensity of such event, and makes an effort to put all their energy forward?

Other artists have used horrible excuses, furthering the point that if an artist isn’t going to be hundred percent prepared, their mere stage presence isn’t enough.  Mrs. Simpson is a perfect example of this.  “I feel so bad, my band started playing the wrong song,” she said.  However, according to MTV News, in later interviews she blamed it on her “acid reflux disease.”  Now this just sounds like she came up with an excuse on the spot, and later changed it so the public would feel bad for her, rather than look down upon her.  

Even some guitarists and drummers have been caught playing along with prerecorded tracks.  An example of this was the 2014 Superbowl, when the Red Hot Chili Peppers were caught with unplugged instruments while performing.   “It was made clear to us that vocals would be live, but the bass, drums, and guitar would be prerecorded,” Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist, Flea said.  According to Billboard, the NFL practically forced the band to do this in order to have high quality sound for their viewers.  Is this the new wave of live entertainment?  Companies and productions are willing to sacrifice an artist’s talent in order to make sure mistakes aren’t made while performing.  If that’s what it takes for them to be an artist, then they shouldn’t be paid millions of dollars for their performances.  Lip syncing isn’t talent, it’s an excuse, and shouldn’t be accepted by the general public.