Lip-Syncing To Success: Music’s Biggest Phonies

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ASHLEE SIMPSON: A ‘Hoe-Down’ Fiasco

A little over 10 years ago, it definitely seemed that Ashlee Simpson, younger sister of the buxom blonde Jessica Simpson, was on her way to pop stardom. Her debut album Autobiography, which was released in 2004, sold nearly 400,000 copies the first week. This was a huge feat for a newcomer such as Ashlee Simpson. The lead single of the album – Shadow – was an instant hit. A song about the singer’s struggles with growing up with a more popular and more beautiful older sister, the song reached into many hearts and hit charts.

Indeed, Ashlee’s star was finally shining until an unfortunate incident at Saturday Night Live in 2004. After singing her song Pieces of Me earlier in the show, she returned on stage to do Autobiography. Technical issues ensued and a pre-recording of Pieces of Me played instead. Visibly embarrassed, Ashlee Simpson made a sort of a ‘hoe-down’ (her words, not mine) and exited the stage. Her career has never recovered since. To add insult to the wound, she was booed repeatedly when she performed her song La-la (from another album) in front of a live audience at the Orange Bowl in 2005.

LINDSAY LOHAN: Lindsay ‘Hotmess’ Lohan

For somebody who is hell bent on being famous, Lindsey Lohan sure does put more effort into being INfamous. Whether that is intentional or not remains to be seen. The Parent Trap star started out like any other Disney baby does, cute, wholesome and squeaky-clean. In true Disney star fashion though, as soon as she felt she was old enough, Lindsay Lohan proceeded to party too much, act unprofessional and go to rehab multiple times.

Lohan’s lip-syncing fiasco happened in Good Morning America in 2004 – seriously, what was it with that year?! The offending lip-syncing moment happened right at the second verse of Lindsay’s Rumors performance. The pop star didn’t make a big deal about it and strategically turned her back to the audience while proceeding to “sing” the rest of the song. Both La Lohan and Good Morning America vehemently denied that Lindsay did in fact lip-sync her performance. Lindsay’s record label Casablanca released a press statement saying that Lindsay DID NOT lip-sync and that it was in fact background tracks that were playing (supposedly to give the song the layered effect it was supposed to have) and that Lindsay was singing live, a hundred percent.

BRITNEY SPEARS: The Repeat Offender

Britney Spears has been rumored to be lip-syncing not once, not twice but three times—once in 2009 and twice in 2014 to be specific. Britney Spears was plagued with lip-syncing rumors when she went on tour for Circus in Australia in November 2009. The media initially attacked Spears for offering paying audiences a mostly pre-recorded show. Spears reportedly mimed the songs heavily, had very little audience interaction and had her back to the audience a lot of the time. As icing on the cake for a terrible evening, there was news about the audience leaving the show in packs because it was so bad.


In February 2014, at one of Spears’ Las Vegas shows she was once again caught lip-syncing. During a performance of her song Alien, Britney forgot to sing into the microphone (as if there were other places to sing into) but the track continued to play. The audience didn’t seem to mind, because at this point, if you are going to pay for a Britney show you probably know she’s pre-recorded the whole thing anyway.

In another one of her Vegas shows last August 2014, Britney Spears was caught lip-syncing again, this time to her song Perfume. She recorded the track with the multi-talented Sia. During the show, fans noted that Brit-Brit continued to sing through parts of the song that were obviously sung by Sia, making it clear that the rest of the track was probably also pre-recorded.

MARIAH CAREY: The Struggling Chanteuse

Mariah Carey, diva extraordinaire, used to be quite outspoken about other artists’ decisions to use back up recordings – also known as “lip-syncing”. The past year, the vocalist, who is known for her high notes and divalicious persona, has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Exactly a year ago, Mimi performed for The Today Show and went completely silent during the high notes. The rest of the performance of Always be my Baby was a great let down too, as the ‘chanteuse’ struggled through the whole song. The only positive thing about this ordeal was that she at least sang that whole song on her own.

In October 2014 she opened her Elusive Chanteuse show in Japan by struggling to finish her sets. Fans noted that the singer was out of breath and had difficulty reaching the high notes in her songs.

More recently in February 2015, Carey delivered a dismal performance yet again at the Jamaican Jazz and Blues Festival. The videos of the performance clearly show her struggling to sing her songs while studio-recorded versions of her tracks were playing in the background. The singer was obviously missing cues and even looked a little bit confused for a while.

MILLI VANILLI: Fake It ‘Til You Make It

This is the grandmother of all bad lip-syncing incidents. Before everything went down the drain, Milli Vanilli were actually awarded a Grammy for their hit single Girl You Know It’s True. They were awarded the Grammy for Best New Artist of that year. For a while, the duo, whose members were Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus, started to enjoy unspoiled popularity until the infamous event.

In July 21, 1989 during a live show for MTV the recording for Girl You Know It’s True, presumably, started to skip. The record started to repeat the phrase “Girl, you know it’s…” over and over again until it became clear that the voices the crowd was cheering the whole night came from pre-recordings. Morvan and Pilatus, trying their best to salvage the show proceeded to sing along to the song the best they could until they finally gave up and ran backstage.

As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, in December of the same year, a singer in the name of Charles Shaw revealed to the media that it was him and two other artists, not the two singers, who sang the songs on the record. Details about the duo’s manager trying to pay off Shaw to keep him quiet also emerged during the whole fiasco. Eventually, the Grammys and all other awards except the American Music Awards that the duo won were invalidated.