#MusicMonday: Do you hear the lipsyncher sing?
MANILA, Philippines - And so it goes: Beyoncé Knowles fulfilled her promise to give an all-out half-time performance at the Super Bowl, singing 100% live.
This comes after the noise generated by her stint at US President Barack Obama’s re-inauguration last January 21 (22, PHL time), where she heartily sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” — or so the people thought.
The hoopla came after a US Marine Band spokesperson divulged after the inauguration that a pre-recorded rendition of the American anthem was played as Beyoncé sang away.
Two days after that formal, second-term swearing in of President Obama, news broke that the erstwhile Sasha Fierce did not sing live that chilly January morning in Washington, DC, apparently due to lack of rehearsal time with the US Marine Band.
Instead of coming clean on the matter, Knowles kept quiet amid uproar among purists, who expected nothing less than live singing at such a momentous occasion.
With the issue unsettled, she sort of relented 6 days post-inauguration, posting a cryptic photo of herself on Instagram wearing a shirt that said, “Can I live?” — replete with a shrug that, no matter the various interpretations, might as well have said, “I’m only human.”
On February 1, Beyoncé finally admitted at a press conference that she did lipsynch to a recording of herself 10 days earlier, but not before showing off her vocal prowess to the media folk in attendance.
Girl, you know it ain’t true
We don’t know about everyone else, but all this may well be much ado about nothing to us Filipinos.
After all, aren’t we at one point captive audience to much fake singing on TV, via our interminable variety shows and “Glee”?
Besides, better to hear Beyoncé sing flawlessly, if in visually fake fashion, than be subjected to, say, the live horror of the neighbors’ drunken karaoke “concerts.”
As far as fakery in the singing business goes, Knowles’ little episode is less than zero if compared to the tale of Milli Vanilli, the hit duo that sold millions of albums and earned a Best New Artist Grammy Award for 1989’s Girl, You Know It’s True — only to be outed a year later as not being the true singers of their smash tunes.
Once reality hit the fan, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences revoked the tandem’s Grammy, and numerous duped record buyers and concertgoers demanded refunds.
Watch Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus perform 'Girl You Know It's True' at the 1990 Grammys:
In a later development (Lance Armstrong, take note), the MV duo of Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus — and record producer Frank Farian, said to be the mastermind behind the royal scam — managed an attempt at a joint self-redemption, which got ground to a halt following Pilatus’ death in 1998. (Morvan continues to maintain a solo career.)
On a less glaring note, the late Michael Jackson himself was not above public faux singing. In fact, he had done so while on our shores, during his two concerts in December 1996 at a Parañaque City venue.
As the posthumous documentary “This is It” bears out, the pop sensation can certainly sing live. Still, I was on the first of those two Philippine shows of his and was close enough to the stage to notice that, despite the man’s vigorous dancing throughout, his vocals hardly evinced catch-my-breath exhaustion.
And this came 13 years after his standing-ovation-earning performance at Motown Records’ 25th anniversary, where he lipsynched away to his “Billie Jean” and devoted his real energies to his trademark moonwalking.
To hear is to believe
There are several other instances of lipsynchorama throughout pop history but let me cite one last, lesser-known anecdote.
The Filipino rock band Radioactive Sago Project had figured in a prominent lipsynching episode themselves, but in a different way. Around the year 2000, on the strength of their unconventional hit song “Gusto Ko ng Baboy” (“I Want a Pig”), Sago were invited to perform during the half-time break at a Philippine Basketball Association game. The setup called for the band to be on the PBA hard court not so much to play the song than to act like they were playing the song.
Admits Sago songwriter-vocalist Lourd De Veyra, “Madugo ang logistics. Mahirap mag-set up ng sound system sa gitna ng court, at halftime.” (“The logistics were complicated. It’s hard to set up a sound system in the middle of the court, at halftime at that.”)
Still, De Veyra recalls being embarrassed at the prospect of just mouthing his spoken-word song’s stanzas and so opted for a wild stunt: He wore a head-covering pig mask, complementing that scheme by walking rather aimlessly around his bandmates.
The b-ball crowd got agitated, responding by shouting boos and pelting coins at the group — who still saw to it that they finished mimicking along to their pre-recorded track.
De Veyra, who has never been coy about sharing his views via “Word of the Lourd,” concludes of lipsynching: “Either kumanta ka o huwag na lang.” (“Either you sing or just don’t sing anymore.”)
That said, most of us would rather just get on with our lives and maybe sing along to this lipsynched, er, Lipps Inc. classic. - Rappler.com