May 20, 2024


I Fall For Art

Singing Tips and Techniques – Lip Syncing, is it Cheating When a Big Star Does It?

Ok. So a nationally acclaimed singing star is coming to the big venue in your town. You paid $100 for a ticket, along with 20,000 other fans. Just before the concert is to begin an announcement is made that the star is having vocal problems and won’t be performing. So everybody goes home irritated, disappointed and even a little angry with the star for letting them down, even though our logic tells us that it’s not their fault.

….or the concert could go on as expected. The star looks and sounds great, the energy in the room is irreplaceable, and everybody goes home happy.

Which scenario do you like? Obviously the second. The concert goes on as planned, you have a great time – but what you don’t know is that the star actually didn’t sing much of the concert in person, but rather lip-synced to a recording of their own singing done prior to the concert. BUT YOU NEVER SUSPECTED THAT, so your experience wasn’t cheapened in the least bit.

My wonderful vocal mentor, Maestro David Kyle used to say to me, when I was sick or hoarse “unfortunately, Alan, you happen to be human.” Unfortunately, the big stars also happen to be human.

So lip syncing is very often used when the singer just doesn’t have a voice. The recorded vocal track plays along with the show, but is only used when the singer can’t sing certain notes, or if they just can’t sing that night. Recorded voice is also used when the singer has a lot of difficult dancing to do.

Let’s talk about pre-recording the voice on the National Anthem. One reason is the same as described above: the voice isn’t working that day. Another reason is that often in very large stadiums, the singer simply can’t hear the band or background music because of wind, delayed (bounced through the stadium) sound, or other unfixable reasons. There again, what we don’t know won’t hurt us.

A final reason for lip syncing is that the singer’s label (Atlantic, Warner, Jive, etc) simply won’t allow it. If their star sounds terrible at a live event it can hurt record sales and concert attendance. Money makes the cd go ’round.