Car-crash live performances have always made good TV. In fact, it is arguable that bad live performances are the lifeblood of reality TV talent shows such as American Idol, The X Factor and The Voice. These shows are hugely popular, not just because of the stars that they launch towards fame and fortune, but also because of the notorious audition process that often provokes outrage, as well as tears of laughter. The entertainment value of such performances is clear to see.
However, it is even more shocking when a terrible live performance is delivered by a professional. With power harnessed from social media, news of such an event can spread like wildfire across the world. The most common issues are those concerning lip-syncing, which the public really don’t take kindly to. A huge amount of pop stars have been heavily criticised by their fans for lip-syncing, and, as you will find out, some faced a terrible backlash. This is understandable. If you’re a singer, people have the right to expect that you can sing! Yet in todays world, it seems that having singing ability and a music career are two completely separate things… Famous singers currently sitting in the “did they or did they not lip-sync” hot seat include Justin Bieber, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé.
Take a look at our list of Terrible Live Performances That Almost Crashed Careers for a look back on some of the worst live performances in recent history. They consist of audio mistakes, lip-syncing fails and downright terrible singing! Unfortunately for the singer in question, their failure was recorded on live TV and the content was spread all around the world. It is easy to understand why the following live performances had the potential to end careers.
5. 50 Cent – BET Awards
50 Cent went through quite a lot to get where is today. Raised in poverty in Queens by a drug-dealing mother, 50 Cent starting rapping at an early age. His debut album, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, went platinum eight times over in the USA. The release of the album marked the beginning of a long and fruitful career for the rapper. However, it goes without saying that his live performances haven’t always been perfect.
In 2007, 50 Cent made a live appearance at the BET awards, which was receiving significant media coverage. 50 Cent made a serious mishap at the very beginning. His live performance started with his song “Amusement Park”, which was a single from his album Curtis, due for release just a few months after the BET performance. Bizarrely, 50 Cent appeared to completely forget the lyrics of the first verse. As the track continued behind him, 50 Cent wandered aimlessly around the stage looking lost. He even got off the stage and entered the crowd, greeting some people he knew in the audience. He eventually got back up on stage and started singing again but it was quite a risky mishap to have just before an album launch. Of course, the success of ‘Curtis’ soon made fans forget about the cringeworthy BET performance.
4. Lindsay Lohan – Good Morning America
Lindsay Lohan‘s rather lukewarm foray into music began in 2004, around the same time as her success in the critically acclaimed film, Mean Girls, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. Lohan’s album Speak wasn’t panned by critics, but it wasn’t exactly hailed as the next big thing either. While her songwriting abilities earned her favour, many critics remarked that even on the album, it was apparent that Lohan did not have a strong singing voice.
Lohan appeared on Good Morning America to promote the album. She sang the album’s two major singles, “Rumours” and “Over”. The backlash that followed the performance was truly incredible. Legions of viewers vented their dismay and accused Lohan of lip syncing. During the performance, which can be found on Youtube, there appears to be some very clear instances of Lohan lip syncing. Her record label jumped to her defence, and then claimed that the first song had featured “background tracks”. It is obvious that this performance resulted in widespread doubt of her singing abilities. Lohan’s next album, “A Little More Personal (Raw)” failed to impress critics, and her music career came to an abrupt halt.
3. Britney Spears – Perth, Circus Tour
Nobody on this planet can deny that Britney Spears has had more ups and downs than any other artist in the music industry. From failed relationships to breakdowns to incredible comebacks and superstardom, Britney has seen and done it all. Although Britney’s singing abilities haven’t always been questioned, many have critiqued her decision to lip-sync during concerts, even if her performances and dances are demanding.
The most shocking case of Britney backlash occurred in Perth, Australia in 2009. Britney was performing her two-hour Circus show – tickets for which had cost fans hundreds of dollars. There were a staggering 14 dates on the Australian leg of Spears’ tour. After just three songs, masses of people started to leave the concert, claiming Spears was clearly lip-syncing. To add insult to injury, many claimed that Spears’ dance moves were boring, badly executed and not demanding enough to make lip-syncing acceptable. The backlash was so strong that Australian politicians demanded new laws to be put in place which would force musicians to state clearly whether or not they are planning to lip-sync during concerts. Spears was apparently very hurt by the ordeal, claiming that people should not have reacted so negatively as she is “just a human being”.
2. Lana Del Rey – SNL
Lana Del Rey hasn’t always won the favour of the public. Despite her large fan base, many people reserve very strong criticisms for the young starlet. The question marks surrounding Del Rey’s singing abilities are rooted in one of her first major national performances, which took place on Saturday Night Live in 2012.
Del Rey’s performance was… strange, to say the least. Her voice was sounded nothing like it did on her album, Born To Die – it was deep, strained and out of key. The performance was markedly different to her previous live performances, which actually show that she has a decent voice. For whatever reason, Del Rey was visibly nervous, and she did little but shuffle stiffly around the stage.
The backlash Del Rey suffered was ruthless – during and immediately after the performance, a storm broke out on Twitter slamming Del Rey. Daniel Radcliffe, who had hosted the SNL show, jumped to Del Rey’s defence, saying that the Twitter attack had become far too personal: “… People are making it about things other than the performance … If you read what people are saying about her online, it’s all about her past and her family and stuff that’s nobody else’s business. I don’t think [the performance] warranted anywhere near that reaction.”
1. Ashlee Simpson – SNL
The queen of train-wreck live performances, Ashlee Simpson has faced public humiliation several times. Simpson’s questionable singing abilities have certainly not garnered her any favour with critics and the question marks around her talent have undoubtedly contributed to her flailing music career.
One of her worst performances to date was on Saturday Night Live – a show which certainly has a reputation for featuring musical disasters. In one of the most cringeworthy performances of all time, Ashlee can be seen panicking as there is a mistake in the audio department. Instead of playing her next song, the song Simpson had just sung began to play again – along with Ashlee’s “live” singing voice! With her lip-syncing cover completely blown, Simpson resorted to dancing around awkwardly before quickly exiting the stage in embarrassment. Unfortunately, it appears that Simpson’s actual voice isn’t that impressive either. In 2005, Simpson delivered a catastrophic performance of her song “LaLa” at the Superbowl Halftime Show. At the end of the performance, literally no cheers could be heard from the crowd. Simpson was booed away, and her music career has failed to earn the public’s attention since.