Beyonce has been under some considerable fire for days now since it became public knowledge that she had lip-synced her rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner at Barack Obama's second presidential inauguration last week. The nerve! All appeared fine on first impression but closer inspection left little doubt that she was lip-syncing to a previously recorded version of the U.S. national anthem in what was likely the biggest television audience she had ever 'performed' in front of.
A debate has been raging ever since. Is it acceptable to lip-sync nowadays and would music fans feel cheated if they pay money to see someone pretending to sing? The overwhelming answer, at least according to the droves on Twitter, is that people have a big problem with vocal fakery. Unless it's funny and/or embarrassing in which case it takes on a new life as the latest slice of internet folklore shared across the globe.
With that in mind, we thought we'd take a look at a few of the more notorious lip-syncing fails from over the years and bring 'em to you.
Do you remember when Lindsay Lohan used to be seen as this clean cut, all American stereotype, all apple pie and 'have a nice day'? It was about four car crashes and three prison sentences ago, but around the time of what is still her biggest hit to date, Mean Girls, Lohan was viewed as a sure thing - a talented young actor who had the ability and ambition to conquer anything and everything that was put before her. Oh how wrong they were.
Anyway, such was the perceived marketability of LiLo many moons ago she was actually considered by music managers as a 'sure thing' for a successful singing career. She had everything - the looks, the popularity, the name value but they just forgot one thing: she couldn't sing. At all. Lohan's music career was brief but it did leave us with some great videos, such as the one above.
This one is something of a rarity among lip-sync fail videos, in that Katy Perry actually handles the error with a touch of humour and humility. Also, to be fair to her, Katy Perry (to our knowledge) actually does sing her own vocals live, so she is far from being the most egregious offender on this list but she does deserve her place among this rogues gallery for calling the recorder a flute. Shame on you Katy!
This is another odd one and actually more of a 'win' for Muse and a 'fail' for the Italian TV show that they were on. Y'see, Muse were booked on as musical guests but were subsequently informed that they were under orders to lip-sync their performance so as to not over-complicate the broadcast, or something to that effect. With one eye on their indie credibility, Muse had other ideas. Frontman Matthew Bellamy and drummer Dominic Howard traded instruments, with Howard behind the mic lip-syncing to his heart's content while Bellamy does his best impression of Animal from The Muppets.
Nirvana also adopted a similar approach when asked to mime their performance on Top of the Pops many moons ago.
Milli Vanilli are The Beatles of lip-sycning. They're the best. No one even comes close. Can you name another band that actually won a Grammy (which was eventually rescinded) without ever (EVER!) singing any of their own songs? Didn't think so.
For the unaware, Milli Vanilli were formed in Germany towards the end of the 80s when a music producer named Frank Farian decided he wanted to manufacture a pop group. He had some excellent singers under contract but the problem was that he deemed them too unattractive to be up on stage. This is where Milli Vanilli - as we know them - was born.
Farian stumbled upon two male models, Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus, who were considered attractive enough to prance around on a stage and morally corrupt enough to pretend that they were singing, when the vocals actually belonged to some hideous specimens cowering in the shadows backstage.
This all unraveled when a journalist for the LA Times discovered the truth and ended the charade, coming a short time after Pilatus had declared himself "the new Elvis" (seriously) and more talented than Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney (also seriously).
We have saved the absolute worst for last here. If you're anything like me you don't expect too much from an Ashlee Simpson concert, which was likely the mindset of just about everyone packed into Studio 8H in the NBC building in New York for an episode of Saturday Night Live. Simpson, bravely riding the coat-tails of her equally talent-devoid sister, was the show's musical guest that night and her career has never recovered from what transpired on that autumn night.
During Simpson's second song, some mind-numbing number called 'Autograph', the lyrics for her previous song played from the P.A. - all before Ashlee had even put the microphone to her mouth. After several seconds of careful consideration, Ashlee decided the best course of action would be to quickly perform a jig (seriously) before exiting the stage and blaming the entire incident on a bout of acid reflux.