When we pay large amounts of money to see a performance, we expect the works – eye-catching visuals, thumping bass, and genuine live vocals. However, many artists fail to deliver all of the elements that viewers hope for, especially the last element. Many singers end up ‘lip syncing’ rather than actually singing their songs live. These artists were all caught during the embarrassing act. Whether these entertainers resorted to lip syncing because they had a cold and their voices weren’t up to snuff, because they’d performed one too many shows in a row, because their dance moves were too hardcore to permit perfect vocals, or simply because they don’t have the singing chops advertised in their songs, many viewers disparage entertainers for a lack of talent after they’ve been involved in a lip sync scandal. It’s often controversial, because viewers insist that if a musician has genuine talent, lip-syncing is unnecessary. On the other hand, lip-syncing can occasionally add to a show, as it permits entertainment value in other areas, like dance. Whether you love or hate lip-syncing, these 12 entertainers were involved in some of the worst lip-syncing scandals.
12. Muse – 2013
Muse may have had a lip sync fiasco, but they remain at the bottom of this list because it wasn’t by choice. When they performed for an Italian television show, the band was told that they were required to lip sync. However, Muse is a band that doesn’t take musical integrity lightly, so they took a leaf out of Nirvana’s book and pulled a trick on the show. Unbeknownst to the television show producers, the band members switched roles – the lead singer and guitarist mimed the drums, the drummer took center stage as lead vocalist, and the bassist took on the role of keyboard and guitar.
11. Katy Perry – 2011
Katy’s Perry’s slip up wasn’t technically a lip sync mistake – instead, she pretended to play the recorder during a live performance. Katy initially wowed fans by playing a lovely melody on the recorder, but she completely missed the end portion of the solo. Katy was a trooper: she salvaged her reputation by making light of the situation. She put on an adorable embarrassed face and apologized, “So, I lied, I can’t play the flute.” She may have been miming playing the instrument, but calling a recorder a flute was her real mistake.
10. 50 Cent – B.E.T Awards 2007
50 Cent performed “Amusement Park” live at the B.E.T. Awards in 2007, but he clearly must have forgotten that he was lip-syncing. During a crafty descent and before even 30 seconds had passed, 50 Cent took off his jacket and took his microphone away from his mouth – while the pre-recorded track was still playing. Thus, an entire line passed while his mic hung useless at his side, a blatant symbol that he was lip-syncing. However, 50 didn’t seem phased by his mistake in the slightest – it’s a good thing 50 knows how to take a bullet.
9. Cheryl Cole – Stand Up 2 Live 2012
British pop singer Cheryl Cole has been accused of lip-syncing several times, but her worst faux-pas came in 2012, during her performance for the Stand Up 2 Live Concert. During this performance, she sang lightly for the first minute and a half of “Call My Name,” but when she realized the pre-recorded track hadn’t played correctly, she stepped up and fully sang the rest of the song. This performance was for charity and when she did sing, she sounded pretty good, so we can’t be too mad at her.
8. Lindsay Lohan – Good Morning America
To this day, Lindsay Lohan maintains that she did not lip sync her performance on Good Morning America. While we have to give her props for sticking to her guns, the flood of accusations directed towards her performance is probably more reliable than Lindsay’s single refutation. Watching her performance, it’s clear that Lindsay makes several mistakes while lip-syncing; she fails to match the recorded song perfectly, while dancing wildly. Even more ironic is that Lindsay was lip-syncing to “Rumors.” This performance, which occurred on the eve of her album’s debut, sparked even more rumors and gossip about the actress.
7. Mariah Carey – Good Morning America 2008
Despite the fact that Mariah Carey’s pipes are heralded as some of the best in the business, during her performance of “Touch my Body” on Good Morning America in 2008, Mariah had an obvious lip sync slip up. A couple minutes into the performance, it seems like Mariah simply spaces out and forgets to match her mouth to the lyrics. Sometimes we can excuse lip sync slips if other elements of the performance are rigorous and demanding, but Mariah was nearly stationary during this performance, so it’s a little harder to let it slide.
6. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Super Bowl XLVIII
The Red Hot Chili Peppers performed during half time at the Super Bowl XLVIII, in February 2014, but it turns out that only lead singer, Anthony Kiedis was actually performing live – the rest of the band’s instruments weren’t even plugged in! Bassist Flea explained to the public that the NFL requested they lip sync, as too many variables could upset the performance. It appears that the band sacrificed their artistic integrity because they just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to perform at the Super Bowl.
5. Britney Spears – Circus Tour
Britney Spears has had so many lip sync scandals that it’s hard to choose just one to cover. In fact, during her “Circus Tour” in 2009, Britney’s lip-syncing sunk to such depths that Australian lawmakers considered adding a disclaimer to the promotions in order to warn the public. Some of her worst lip sync moments include an obvious scream into the mic that emitted no noise because the mic was actually off, and shouting into a mic that was clearly supposed to be off, “My p**** is hanging out!” However, it can’t be ignored that many people attend Britney’s tours for the vivacious and performative aspects, not the live vocals.
4. Ashlee Simpson – SNL 2004
Ashlee Simpson’s fail on Saturday Night Live in 2004, is one of the most infamous lip sync scandals in existence. After returning for an encore, the full track “Pieces of Me” was played, when Ashlee was clearly expecting a different song and was caught off guard. Much of the notoriety stems from the combination of the awkward dance that Ashlee performed before exiting the stage and her attempt at covering up her lip-syncing: at the end of the show, Ashlee blamed her mistake on her band. Her dad took a different note, claiming that Ashlee’s acid reflux disease was acting up, necessitating pre-recorded backing vocals.
3. Lin Miaoke – 2008 Olympics
China got into trouble at the 2008 Summer Olympics in more ways than one. In addition to accusations of falsifying documents in order to permit underage gymnasts to compete, Lin Miaoke, who sang “Ode to the Motherland,” was accused of lip-syncing. The real voice behind Lin’s was seven-year-old girl, Yang Peiyi. However, because China was fanatical about portraying a perfect image on the global stage, rumor has it that Chinese officials deemed Yang to be too ugly to sing live. This cruelty and deception caused global outrage, and lives on as one of the world’s most infamous lip sync scandals.
2. Beyonce – President Obama’s Inauguration Ceremony
Beyonce is known for her powerful pipes, but even she couldn’t pull off singing the National Anthem live at President Obama’s inauguration ceremony. Beyonce eventually admitted that she had lip synced the song, claiming that she didn’t have time to rehearse with the orchestra because she was busy preparing and rehearsing for her impending performance at the Super Bowl. However, judging by the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Super Bowl fiasco, it’s entirely possible that she didn’t even sing live for that performance.
1. Milli Vanilli
The controversy over Milli Vanilli, a duo consisting of Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus, extends far past just regular lip-syncing. After being awarded the Grammy for Best New Artist in 1990, author Chuck Phillips revealed that, not only was the pair lip syncing, but the voices on their recorded album belonged to an entirely different pair of men. Like Lin Miaoke, the men who supplied the actual vocals weren’t considered attractive enough to front the group. After the controversy, Milli Vanilli’s Grammy was revoked, and the pair was left to bask in their shame.