Do Synched Lips Sink Ships?

milli_vanilli_grammys.jpgIt’s an age-old question–does lip-synching make you less of an artist? There has been instance after instance of lip-synched performances in the past; sometimes it’s necessary, and sometimes it’s not. Let’s get some clarity on this issue, once and for all.

Let’s face it–there are occasions when using a pre-recorded vocal is
necessary: a dance-intensive performance, for example. Other times, a
mouthed performance lends itself to certain television programs (live
or taped). It really depends on the nature of the show. I recall
watching Soul Train as a kid, and it never really occurred to me that the performer’s vocals sounded exactly like
it did on the record. Back then, it didn’t really matter to me–I was
simply caught up in the overall experience. However, as an adult, it’s
evident that the “live or Memorex” question can sometimes distract you
while watching them perform, especially if the artist is not faking it well.
Then in other cases, you can’t help but wonder why someone standing
almost motionless in a gown has to sing to a pre-recorded track. And
what about those who never seem to sing live? Don’t you get
PAID to do this? No matter the situation, you have to look at it on an
individual basis. We just have to be mindful of the fact that
lip-synching is justifiable, but not always.

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To be honest, lip-synched performances don’t bother me for the most
part. As long as you are doing it well and giving me everything else,
I’m good. What actually gets on my nerves more is when a hip-hop artist
is rapping out loud to a pre-recorded vocal. Nine times out of ten,
that sounds like a sizzling mess. It does nothing to
enhance things. Couple this with the fact that there’s also a
blithering hype man on stage doing ad-libs and what not. It ends up
sounding like some horrible drunken version of a rap song. For real, step your mic game up.

So what does this say for artistry? Has technology made the live raw
vocal a thing of the past? Would you rather hear a flawed (but
authentic) live vocal performance, or an excellent (yet pre-recorded)
one? Is it wrong to demand more from our beloved vocalists?

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