There are bands and artists who put on live shows so good that recordings of them outsell studio albums. Then there are the countless others who fumble their way through performances on a prayer and a backtrack. While in the past, it was the performers who put on real live shows that won the day, it’s now more common for the “artist” with the best lip-synching skills to come out ahead, as most of the personal cash is made in ticket-sales — not record-sales. Following the unfortunate trend, here are Music’s 15 most notorious fakers and lip-synchers.
The night that Ashlee Simpson committed career-suicide live on SNL will likely never be forgotten. She previously performed her song “Pieces of Me” using a backtrack and apparently lip-synched well enough to fool the audience, but when it came time to perform her second song of the evening, “Pieces of Me” began playing again while she stood with her mic at her side, and a stupid look on her face. The failure was only exacerbated when she busted out with a terrible jig that she later called “a hoedown,” and then bolted off-stage as her band kept playing.
We all love Shakira, you’d have to be crazy not to — the girl’s beautiful, and she’s right about those hips not lying. The thing is, obvious lip-synching is pretty obvious, and in Shakira’s case, it’s pretty damn obvious. She doesn’t do it all the time, and you could even go as far as to say that the majority of her live vocals are probably sung in real-time, but when she breaks out the backtrack, she goes for broke.
As if we needed another reason to scorn the spawn of the Mullet King, Miley Cyrus is a world-class faker. Rumor even has it that she doesn’t bother to stop at just lip-synching and miming, but actually has a body-double take her place during her performances so that she can duck backstage for a breather and a wardrobe change.
The video says it all: Madonna hardly bothers to sing anymore. The woman is well over 300 years old by now, so it’s no surprise that she’s feeling the sands of the hourglass, but the level of effort she puts in these days is just pathetic. Even Elton John felt compelled to stop being polite and bashed the shit out of her at an awards banquet in the UK.
Lin Miaoke and the People’s Republic of China
If you don’t remember the great Olympic lip-synching scandal of 2008, then you must have been living under a rock for the year. Lin Miaoke, the cute little girl that China placed in front of the world to sing for the opening ceremony, was actually just lip-synching her way through another little girl’s rendition of the song. The real singer, Yang Peiyi, was deemed “unsuitable” by the Chinese officials because she had buck teeth. We don’t blame little Lin for this one, she’s probably never going to get away from it though.
We enjoy Lindsay Lohan, though usually not for her music. That being said, her debut performance back in 2004 on ABC’s Good Morning America was nothing short of hilarious. It was a bit more like watching a drunk girl do well at a local bar’s karaoke night than watching a nationally televised live performance, but it’s good for a laugh regardless.
While many of the members of this list have pretty funny videos floating around — against their wishes — of their disastrous use of lip-synching technology, few are as terrible at it as Enrique Iglesias. The guy just can’t seem to catch a break, with such ridiculous failures as walking away from the mic mid-verse (shown above), and supposed recordings of his real voice popping up from time to time (not pretty). Really topping it all, the Telegraph reported on an Austrian show that went awry when Iglesias showed up an hour late, and proceeded to mime his lyrics, then try to talk to crowd only to realize that his mic was turned off.
Squeeze Theeze Pleeze
This Portuguese band would never even have had the chance to get their name out there had this hilariously failed performance not been recorded and uploaded to YouTube. The band, already handicapped by being solely known in their native stomping grounds, really doesn’t have much to offer aside from comedic relief. After watching this video about 67 times, we’re fine with that.
It would be wrong to ever speak ill of Michael Jackson as a performer, as regardless of your own personal feelings toward the man — he put on one hell of a show. What we are going to point out is the fact that it’s a physical impossibility for MJ to do what he did, and still have a voice left for singing perfectly all the time. That being said, it’s no big surprise that he lip-synched pretty often, but in the video above it’s extremely pronounced. We don’t mind, the performance was pretty awesome anyway.
At this performance at the BET Awards, Fifty had a bit of a problem keeping up with the backtrack and lost his lip-sync. He compounded the error by trying to recuperate and pick back up on the next verse, but by the time he managed to get his “voice” back, half the audience was in throes of booing him off the stage.
There is no word for this 2007 performance of Tisdale’s “Last Christmas” other than fake. Common sense alone dictates that no live performance in the Macy’s Day Parade could possibly be voiced live, as they all take place on floats in the middle of crowded city streets. This is normally not a big issue, except Ashley is just plain bad at it, and the song that’s coming out of the speakers sounds suspiciously like the studio version.
It’s difficult to speak ill of Beyonce in earshot of any of her fans, as it’s a good way to get a stiletto heel shoved in your eye, but we do what must be done here and this one’s important. Beyonce can more than hold her own in the studio — no one’s denying that here — but on stage her performances are little more than flashy aerobic workouts with sporadic commenting into her mic, which isn’t used for any actual singing.
Yes, that is Britney Spears’ actual voice, as recorded on numerous occasions while lip-synching during “live” performances. Not only is it actually frighteningly bad, but it’s almost painful to listen to. After hearing these recordings, her Xanax-coated flop of a “performance” on 2007′s VMA’s looks almost decent — and who could forget that show?
Unique in this list for not requiring a live performance for the world to know they’re fake, Milli Vanilli is single-handedly responsible for both the widespread use — and hatred — of lip-synching today. The duo’s entire existence was based on a lie, since they weren’t actually singers at all, but were actually just a pair of male models with a squad of hired singers laying voice tracks off-camera. It’s hard to believe that back in the early days of this sort of thing, that these guys had the nerve to go out in front of audiences and attempt this live, but they did, and they were eventually found out.
Last but certainly not least is the infamous Nirvana performance on the BBC’s Top of the Tops in 1991. Unlike the others included in this list, Kurt and the boys refused to play ball when asked to mime their performance on the show. They came to a mock agreement with the producers that while the instruments would be mimed to a backtrack, their mics would remain live. This hilariously epic rendition of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is what came of the ordeal.