Lip syncing has been around for as long as rock and roll has been around. In this episode, we talk about lip syncing’s origins as television started to become popular. Shows such as ‘American Bandstand’ and ‘Soul Train’ were designed to be ‘radio shows on TV’, and it was commonplace for artists to appear on those shows and lip sync along with the recorded version of their hit songs. This wasn’t even regarded as unusual, as the purpose for these shows was to showcase these radio hits. It was also much easier from a production standpoint, as the master track could be played without any of the worries of trying to record a live performance.
Where things started to go off the rails was when artists started deceiving people by lip-syncing during what were supposed to be live performances. Many artists have been accused of lip-syncing, and occasionally they get caught. This was the case in 1990 when it was revealed that not only did Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus lip sync during Milli Vanilli live shows, but that they also did not sing on the albums either. We mention two other notable lip sync disasters, including Ashlee Simpson’s ill-fated appearance on SNL in 2004 and Mariah Carey’s disastrous New Year’s Eve set a few years ago.
Of course, some artists refuse to compromise, and will not lip sync under any circumstances. Other artists will openly make a mockery of the process. Such was the case with Nirvana in 1991 on ‘Top of the Pops’ and Johnny Rotten’s appearance on ‘American Bandstand’. You can see these clips below. Why Dick Clark invited Johnny Rotten to appear on Bandstand remains a mystery to us.