Common Sense

Ok, I've just gotta vent about this whole Ashlee Simpson lip syncing fiasco. And yes, it was a total fiasco, although I really felt bad for the poor girl. Even though she had a record contract thrown at her because of her older sister. Even though the live alternative would have been pretty bad (I saw the MTV Music Awards performance and wouldn't wish it upon anyone). Yes, even though she blamed her band. It's just a level of humiliation that makes my heart hurt.

But - and I say this with 110% conviction and the desire to educate the public on a topic of which I am an expert - you absolutely must realize that pop stars lip sync. It's such a common practice, it might as well be required for the gig. I can't believe that this latest blunder surprised anyone. More importantly, I don't understand why people can't just automatically tell the difference. Isn't it blatantly obvious when a live act isn't kosher?

Take the Destiny's Child opening performance at the Radio City Music Awards tonight. Total, complete lip sync. No question. If any of the group members deny this fact in the face of recent heightened live act scrutiny, they LIE!

Here are a few telltale giveaways that a live performance isn't authentic (in addition to the lips not actually being in sync with the music):

  1. The rendition sounds a lot like the radio edit. No, wait, actually it sounds exactly like the radio edit. That's because it is. And you can tell, because you've heard the song so many times that you're now distinctly aware of where the vocal peaks and valleys are. It's impossible to recreate an identical copy on stage. It simply can't be done. Somewhere, everyone will sound just slightly different. That is, unless they're lip syncing.
  2. You seem to be picking up multiple layers of the same voice. For example, a faint audio illusion of three Britneys singing, but just one Britney on stage. This is so the real Britney doesn't have to try as hard. The backup "voice" will even out the rough spots and allow her to rip off clothing and gyrate without the pesky fear that her voice will crack. Don't deny it, Britney fans!

  3. The performance is accompanied by lots of complicated choreography. I don't even want to hear some lame explanation about how the most hard-working singers are in such good shape that they can pull off strong vocals and aerobic activity simultaneously. If you don't hear Janet Jackson panting and gasping through her lyrics, then it's no surprise that she isn't singing. Accept it and enjoy Rhythm Nation.

Hmm... so what category does the SNL faux pas fit in? None of them specifically. But let's remember that we're in a pop music era where any decent producer can churn out shiny, smooth, fabricated singles with  a little audio software. Most pop stars just aren't that good. They're usually quite cute in their videos, and often related to someone cute and/or famous, but rarely true vocal talents. Ashlee's debut album was a hit, and her record label wants to cash in, so now she has to perform as much as possible to keep record sales up. What's a girl to do when she can't carry the weight on her own?

Thanks, I feel better now. And for the record, I can't sing worth a damn, so this isn't some jealous, it-should-be-me-up-there thing. I just want musical artists to own up, and stop insulting our intelligence.

PS- Just watched Ashlee's performance on the Radio City Music Awards. The good news is that it was definitely live. The bad news is that it was definitely live.