Suddenly Lip Syncing Battles Are All the Rage

Above (clockwise): Anne Hathaway, The Rock, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and John Krasinski take on Jimmy Fallon's 'Lip Sync Battle'

Remember a few years ago when Ashlee Simpson got caught lip syncing a performance on Saturday Night Live? She had to scramble to make up a series of weak excuses to justify why she wasn’t singing live, and frankly, her music career never really recovered. Fans don’t like when a musician can’t perform live, but lately lip syncing has turned into a form of entertainment all its own. Even celebrities who are in the music business are jumping on the lip syncing bandwagon.

One of Jimmy Fallon’s most popular segments involves him battling a celebrity or two for the title of lip syncing champion. Spike has an hour long show where celebrities perform a couple lip synced numbers for a live studio audience. It’s hosted by LL Cool J, and for some reason supermodel Chrissy Teigen is there too. Lip Sync Battle’s premiere episode, which aired in April of this year, was Spikes top rated unscripted premiere of all time.

People love watching celebrities mouth the words to their favourite songs. But it’s not just that. It’s the costumes, guest appearances, dance numbers, and stage presence that really make a particular performance go viral. Anne Hathaway performed Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” in one episode and actually dragged a sledgehammer across the stage and swung half naked on a fake wrecking ball. She re-enacted the entire video, and the crowd loved it.

Audiences tune in to see how far the contestants will go to claim victory. The most popular performances are always the ones you wouldn’t expect like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson lip syncing Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” or John Krasinski doing Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” complete with sequin dress and choreographed dance routine. But even if you missed the episode, someone you know probably shared a video clip on social media, with the best ones going viral.

No celebrity is too cool too participate in a lip sync battle. Jimmy Fallon has battled A-listers like Tom Cruise, Emma Stone, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Admittedly, watching celebrities fake sing their favourite songs is a little more interesting then watching them have a conversation while sitting stiffly on a couch. And it gives actors a chance to show off their personality a little bit. As a segment on Jimmy Fallon, lip sync battles are pretty fun. But as a stand-alone show? Could get old.

Even celebrities who haven’t been on the show are getting in on the action using the new app DubSmash. There are videos of Tom Hardy “singing” Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”, and Lena Dunham doing Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know”. And the app isn’t limited just to music either. People are mouthing the words to their favourite movie lines too.

We can all relate to knowing every single word to a few songs without ever really trying to memorize them. Admit it— you could probably convincingly lip sync Salt N Peppa’s “Shoop” or Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life” (two of my personal favourites) given the opportunity. It doesn’t even matter if you like the song or not, there are some verses that will never leave your memory. Having a good singing voice is no longer a requirement for “performing” your favourite song.

It isn’t only celebrity lip sync videos going viral either. One video of a father and daughter lip syncing along to Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” in the car made the rounds on social media earlier this year. So, lip syncing might actually be the great equalizer. Anyone can do it. But it also has the potential to go the way of the selfie. If you’re constantly flooding your contacts with videos of yourself lip syncing, they might eventually get sick of you. You don’t want to be the Kim Kardashian of lip syncing videos.

The trend is at peak popularity right now, so maybe it’s only a matter of time before bars start offering lip sync battle nights. At least then we won’t have to endure the delusions of people who think they have the voice of an angel. Karaoke might actually have some competition. Finally a chance to show off your encyclopedic knowledge of every Queen song ever recorded without ever actually having to sing a note.

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