Lip-Syncing – A Mark Of The Devil?


Last week, Beyonce revealed the truth to the rumors that had
been circulating – she had lip-synced
at President Obama’s Inauguration. She claimed that due to the bad weather, and
that she had not had a sound-check, she chose to lip-sync. At the press conference
where she announced this, she then sung, totally live and a capella, the
national anthem, to prove that she could do it. But she’s still attracting
controversy over this because the age-old debate of ‘to lip-sync or not to
lip-sync’ is a heated one, and I know my opinion has changed over the years.

For me, although Kelly Clarkson and other singers performing
at the Inauguration apparently completely live and perhaps Beyonce was able to do so, I don’t care that she
lip-synced. Let’s face it. It’s the President’s Inauguration, you’re set to
sing the national anthem, you’re going to be more nervous than you’ve ever
been. To add to that, you know it has to be perfect because all the world is
watching, and you don’t want career-damaging publicity after a messed-up
performance. No matter how much we say we want human mistakes in our live
performances, it’s a fact that gossip media will jump on anything they can to
criticize stars and knock them from the top. Beyonce can’t risk a perfectly
acceptable mistake attracting that kind of attention. In addition, in a way you
don’t want to ‘disrespect’ the President by messing up such an important song
at his event.

So how does this apply to country music? Well in a genre so
focused on authenticity, the question comes up again and again, and more often
than not the act of lip-syncing links country music in some people’s minds to
the dreaded pop, and the ever-blurring lines between them. When it comes to
country music, I prefer my artists to sing live. Perhaps that’s double
standards, but let me explain. When it comes to a concert where fans have paid
to see their favorite artist, there is no excuse. You sing live and you do your
best for those fans who have travelled far and paid the Earth to see you. As
for big industry events, appearances, etc, I am a little more lenient. But it
all depends on the event, and each situation should be handled separately when
deciding whether it’s okay to lip-sync or not. For the Inauguration, I would
have accepted a country artist lip-syncing, because of the reasons I outlined
above for Beyonce. However country is
different from pop, in it that it is still fundamental to appear ‘real’, for
while pop has links to fantasy and escapism, country music tends (not always) to appeal to people’s real lives, to be
relatable and tell the stories of ordinary people. That’s the reason it’s so

If the point of country is to appear ‘real’, then surely we
are far more accepting of human mistakes in live performance, and often welcome
it. Due to the nature of pop, however, an imaginary sense of perfection is more
valued and that’s simply a fact of genre distinctions. Having said that I’m
sure plenty of country artists lip-sync at award shows etc, and they never get
found out, because the promise and pressure of perfection is a looming,
overbearing one, and the commercial success and presence of pop music cannot be
ignored by a country artist who wants to get their music heard and sell
records. It’s human nature to always want to be better.

I know that people who are getting paid to sing should not
be faking it. That’s fair to say. The fact that it’s an expected practise for
much of the music industry is probably a testament to that strive for
perfection I just mentioned, and the increasing pressures of the media today
that require we be a certain way, have a certain standard in ourselves. On one
level I don’t want my artists to
lip-sync, but I understand why they do sometimes. It’s not acceptable all the
time, of course not, anyone who cannot sing live should not have a career in
music particularly in country.
However, if we know they can sing live, like for example we know with Beyonce,
they are established and for whatever reason it may be safer to sing over a
pre-recorded track, I’ll let it slide. It’s okay. We don’t all go to work and
do our best every day. Sometimes we don’t do things properly. Sometimes we’re
wearing a shirt from the day before because we’ve run out. Sometimes we’re so
tired we fall asleep at our desk. It happens and these people who work
incredibly hard no matter where they are in the hierarchy of superstardom
deserve a break occasionally.

Sometimes higher powers than the artists demand them to
lip-sync, even if they don’t want to. The Superbowl
made it a requirement after that Garth occurrence
, and it’s regularly
implemented elsewhere.

So maybe when you go to slam an artist for lip-syncing,
perhaps think that it’s your close scrutiny that may have prompted them to
lip-sync in the first place.

Posted by Vickye (Guest Writer).
If you want to check out my own blog it's For The Country Record, and you can
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