- Whether it’s because they’re sick or must do so for technical reasons, artists sometimes lip-sync during their performances.
- In many cases, it’s not unusual for artists to sing over backing tracks but that doesn’t make it any less shocking when famous performers get accused of miming their vocals.
- In the past, artists like Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, and Katy Perry have been accused of lip-syncing performances that people thought were live.
- Recently, Lil Nas X was accused of lip-syncing during his performance at the 2019 VMAs.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
Although it’s common for artists to sing live vocals over a backing track, this doesn’t make it any less shocking when artists get caught miming the lyrics to their hit songs.
Some famous artists have admitted to lip-syncing for reasons ranging from technical limitations to illnesses. Other musicians have been accused of lip-syncing during performances, though they have never openly admitted to mouthing words to their own pre-recorded vocals on stage.
Here are a few times celebrities that have been accused of lip-syncing.
At the 2019 VMAs, Lil Nas X was called out for lip-syncing during his futuristic performance.
The “Old Town Road” singer took the stage at the 2019 VMAs to perform his song “Panini” while dancing in a futuristic costume.
And although the choreography and costumes were impressive, dozens of viewers were distracted by how Lil Nas X’s mouth didn’t seem to match up to the vocals.
Katy Perry was stopped during a performance in 2013 when her lips didn’t seem to match up to the backing track.
Katy Perry’s performance of her Grammy-nominated song “Roar” at the 2013 NRJ Music Awards in France was so out of sync that the show’s host intervened.
When it was clear that the star’s mouth was not matching up with the lyrics on the song’s backing track, the host stopped the performance and had Perry restart the song.
“If you don’t mind, we can restart. We had a little problem,” the host told Perry, per HuffPost’s translation from French to English. And this time, when Perry does begin to redo the performance it certainly seems like she’s singing for real.
Following the performance, the award show issued a public apology saying that the singer was singing live but there was a technical problem. “The wrong mix has been played accidentally which over-rode Katy’s live vocal feed on-air at the beginning of her performance,” NRJ wrote in its statement, per Digital Spy.
Beyoncé said she lip-synced during President Obama’s inauguration because she didn’t think she had enough time to rehearse with the orchestra.
Beyoncé’s performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2013 was perhaps a little too perfect. Shortly after her performance, reports began to swirl that the star had been lip-syncing.
Beyoncé eventually confirmed that she had used a pre-recorded track on Inauguration Day, explaining that she wasn’t comfortable singing live on the day of the event because she didn’t feel she had enough time to perfect the performance, especially since there was no proper sound check.
“I am a perfectionist and one thing about me is that I practice until my feet bleed and I did not have time to rehearse with an orchestra,” Beyoncé said at a press conference before the 2013 Super Bowl, per BBC.
At that same press conference, to prove she was perfectly capable of singing the US National Anthem live, she belted out an acapella version of it that left the room of journalists clapping. She ended the performance with, “Thank you guys so much, any questions?”
Earlier this year, Justin Bieber fired back a reporter who accused him of lip-syncing at Coachella.
Bieber said he was singing over a backing track but said that the reporter was wrong to lambast his performance, adding that people like Stewart “are bullies at school that are making kids suicidal.”
He also seemed to imply that most cameo appearances by celebrity singers are commonly pre-recorded and that his decision to sing over a backing track was quite normal, especially since it had been a while since he’d last performed.
In 2004, Ashlee Simpson had a major lip-sync blunder on “Saturday Night Live.”
One of the most legendary instances of lip-syncing comes courtesy of Ashlee Simpson’s 2004 performance of her hit single “Pieces of Me” on “Saturday Night Live.”
A problem with the backing track led to Simpson dancing with the microphone by her waist as her vocals played. Shortly after the mishap, she walked off of the stage
In the face of subsequent negative press, Joe Simpson, her father who was also her manager at the time, told KIIS-FM that his daughter was lip-syncing because her voice had been hoarse due to acid reflux.
“Just like any artist in America, she has a backing track that she pushes so you don’t have to hear her croak through a song on national television,” Joe Simpson told KIIS-FM. “No one wants to hear that.”
He said Simpson had never used “extra help” on stage before this incident.
In 2018, Simpson addressed the lip-sync incident during an interview with E! News, saying that she regretted her reaction to the mishap but the experience made her “a better performer, a better person.”
In 2013, Cher and her mother, Georgia Holt, were criticised for lip-syncing on “Ellen.”
In 2013, legendary singer Cher appeared with her mother, Georgia Holt, on “Ellen” to promote Holt’s new album.
The pair sang a song from the album together and viewers immediately began speculating that the performance had been lip-synced when Cher seemed to speak over her own singing.
Rather than denying the accusations, Cher sent a series of tweets that seemed to confirm that they had been lip-syncing, “Who gives a [sic] if she sang live,” the singer tweeted about her mother. She also said her mother had recently had pneumonia, per the Daily Mail.
She also tweeted that she was grateful that her elderly mother was well enough to be able to appear on the show at all.
Milli Vanilli was outed as having lip-synced all of their performances.
Perhaps no other lip-sync scandal is so infamous as the case of R&B sensation Milli Vanilli, a duo that consisted of Fabrice Morvan and Rob Pilatus.
After enjoying an explosion of popularity in the 1990s and winning a Grammy for best new artist in 1989, the German duo was eventually exposed by their producer Frank Farian, who said the artists had not contributed vocals to their multimillion-selling debut album, “Girl You Know It’s True,” per Entertainment Weekly.
Milli Vanilli was later stripped of their Grammy. The pair later confessed to not having sung on their album or during live performances.
“We sold our souls to the devil,” Pilatus told the Los Angeles Times in 1990. “We lied to our families and our friends. We let down our fans. We realise exactly what we did to achieve our success. We made some very big mistakes and we apologise.”
“Rob and I never meant for it to go this way,” Morvan added. “Our producer tricked us. We signed contracts as singers but were never allowed to contribute. It was a nightmare.”
Rita Ora was seen mouthing lyrics during Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2018.
Rita Ora was called out during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2018, when many noticed her lips weren’t quite synced up to her vocals.
Macy’s later tweeted to apologise for technical difficulties during the show, saying they negatively impacted some musicians’ performances. But, lip-syncing seems to be the norm at the famous holiday parade due to technical limitations.
Later that day, fellow musician John Legend tweeted, “Fun fact. We all have to lip sync on this parade because the floats don’t have the capacity to handle the sound requirements for a live performance.”
Ora responded to Legend, thanking him for saying what she was about to say. She also clarified that all of her shows are 100% live and always have been.
50 Cent seemed to be lip-syncing after he got distracted during a performance in 2007.
During a performance at the 2007 BET Awards, rapper 50 Cent appeared to skip singing the first verse of his track “Amusement Park” while pre-recorded vocals continued to play. Instead of mouthing the words, the singer interacted with the crowd.
In an interview with BET’s “106 & Park,” 50 Cent explained that he’d been distracted after a dancer accidentally bumped into him and so he’d lost focus during the beginning of the song.
Though he did not explicitly say he had been lip-syncing, the singer implied that things did not go according to plan during the performance.
In 2016, Mariah Carey encountered a lip-sync mishap that she said was due to technical difficulties.
After an unforgettable performance at “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” event in 2016 in which the singer was noticeably out of sync with her own music, Mariah Carey began pacing the stage, dancing, and talking as a pre-recorded track played.
“We’re missing some of these vocals, but it is what it is,” she said during the performance. “Let the audience sing.” She also said that she couldn’t hear what she was supposed to be singing and that she hadn’t had a sound check.
In a later interview with Entertainment Weekly, she explained that she was “mortified” about the experience.
Britney Spears said her performances are live but she sings with playback music.
Princess of Pop Britney Spears has been accused numerous times of lip-syncing during her live performances. In 2017, in response to media criticism, the singer told Rolling Stone that the lip-sync accusations really bother her.
“A lot of people think that I don’t sing live,” Spears told the publication. “Because I’m dancing so much I do have a little bit of playback, but there’s a mixture of my voice and the playback. It really pisses me off because I am busting my a– out there and singing at the same time and nobody ever really gives me credit for it.”
In 2014, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers performed at the Super Bowl with unplugged instruments.
Watchful viewers of the Super Bowl XLVIII halftime show in 2014 accused rock band Red Hot Chilli Peppers of not really performing live after they noticed the group’s guitar and bass were not plugged in during their performance of “Give It Away.”
In response, the band admitted that the instrumentation of their act had been pre-recorded but said that vocals had been live.
In an open letter on the band’s website that seems to have since been taken down, bassist Flea explained that the producers of the Super Bowl halftime show required a partially pre-recorded performance so it would not risk airing any technical mishaps.
“It was made clear to us that the vocals would be live, but the bass, drums, and guitar would be pre-recorded,” Flea wrote in the letter, per The Verge. “There was not any room for argument on this.”
Victoria Beckham said her microphone was oftentimes turned off when she performed with the Spice Girls.
Victoria Beckham, former Spice Girl (Posh Spice) and fashion mogul, said that her mic was usually turned off during live performances in a 2016 interview with Claudia Winkleman at the National Portrait Gallery in London.
“They used to turn [my microphone] off and just let the others sing,” Beckham said during the interview, per The Telegraph.”I got the last laugh – and now my mic is well and truly on, finally.”
Fellow Spice Girl Mel B (Scary Spice) later denied Beckham’s claims to Entertainment Weekly.
“She wishes it was turned off,” Mel B told the publication “We sung live, and we wrote and recorded all our music together live and we performed it live. It wasn’t turned down. Not that I know of. Maybe she secretly asked for that – I don’t know about that.”
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