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Selective outrage?

When is lip-synching or pretending to play instruments OK and when is it not? If you watched the Super Bowl halftime show, your sharp eyes may have picked up that the guitars for the Red Hot Chili Peppers were not plugged in. To anything. And now the band has come forward and admitted they mimed their hit song “Give It Away” but blamed technical challenges for the reason.

Full disclosure, I don’t care in the slightest if an artist is performing “live” and having promoted, produced and attended over 1,000 “live” concerts, I know firsthand how few actually do. That’s right, almost EVERY act today either lip-synchs or plays to a pre-recorded track of themselves, or more common, they sing/play over top of the track. This allows them to dance, jump, high-five the crowd and take a breath every once in a while without the song stopping. Cue the outrage.

If you don’t believe me, start humming your favorite tune, then begin jumping up and down, throw in the splits and a few spins and you tell ME if you can hold a note while bouncing around. Exactly. It’s why anytime I see someone dancing AND singing, I know there is a guy at the sound booth controlling the volume of the vocals so a consistent level is coming through the speakers and the audience never hears a drop-off, warble or strained note.

And maybe it’s a good thing that people seem OK with the RHCP air band Super Bowl performance and are getting over this purest idea of being a perfect musician AND a big stage performance at the same time.

The songs are recorded in a controlled studio, with multiple takes and a ton of engineering and editing. It’s virtually impossible to replicate the sound live and people will complain when the song doesn’t sound the same as it does on their iPod. So artists figured out a while ago how to put on a show and still have a reasonable version of their music playing at the same time.

I’ll remind you of this discussion when Beyonce lip-synchs at Hillary’s inauguration. 😉

Bruce St. James & Pamela Hughes