Nov 12, 2009

Synch Me

I honestly don't know that I've seen anything more ridiculous than this furphy over Britney Spears lip-synching at her concerts.

I've not been keeping a super-close-eye on the pop star's Circus tour, but it seems to have been bubbling along for most of the year, peppered with the odd amusing wardrobe malfunction.

Of course, when something hits your doorstop, the attention is going to be greater - but why so much rage?

I mean, it's Britney Spears, for goodness sake. It's not Dame Joan Sutherland whacking on a Verdi LP and going the mime.

Her whole act is more than the music - like Madonna and Kylie before her, and contemporaries Pink and Beyonce  - Britney puts on shows, not simply concerts. You don't go to a Britney gig to see an up close, intimate acoustic gig. HELL NO. You go to see dance numbers, flash costumes, awesome stage effects, stunts, acrobatics - and the chance of some boobs up on the jumbotron screen.

In 1993, I went to Madonna's Girlie Show at ANZ Stadium in Brisbane. It's the only tour she's ever brought to Australia - and oh, how wonderful it was. It was the tour that accompanied Madonna's Erotica album, and had heavy themes of cabaret and burlesque, along with disco and circus. As you might imagine - lots of boobs on the jumbotrons. I believe Madonna combined singing with some lip-synching - but I didn't care. My musical role model was within 200 metres of me, strutting her stuff. I may have been 13 and impressionable, but IT WAS AWESOME.

In 1999, I got free tickets to a Matchbox 20 concert at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre. I was working for Triple M at the time, so the tickets also included a meet and greet with the band backstage. I wasn't really a huge fan of Matchbox 20, but I'd grabbed the chance to go so I could take a friend, who was a massive fan. Anyway, perhaps it was just the music of Matchbox 20, but DAMN I was bored.

At one point, they did a cover of "Mamas, Don't Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Cowboys". During the song, a roadie dressed only in a white sheet, fashioned into a nappy about his groin, abseiled down a rope from the ceiling. The crowd went nuts - I suspect because it was the only point of interest in an otherwise relentless display of soft-cock-rockery from frontman Rob Thomas. And even that was criminally short - the roadie cut himself free from the rope then toddled offstage - no doubt for a bottle of warm milk and a hug from his teddy.

I'm not going to Britney - well, unless I can raise a hundred bucks or so by the weekend - but if I was, I wouldn't give a shiny brass farthing if she lip-synched or not. Dancing and singing at the same time is bloody hard - and I'm sorry, but I'm at that show for the visuals even more than the sound. Even if - in Britney's case anyway - it's a little over-controlled and creepy.

The idea that a ticket should state if the performer is lip-synching TO THEIR OWN SONGS (this isn't Milli Vanilli) is just plain silly, people.

What next? A warning on theatre tickets that "Actors are Just Pretending"? A caution tag dangling off a stripper's pasties warning "These Breasts May Have Been Augmented"?


  1. There's a lot of entertainment that relies on people being tricked. We wouldn't enjoy a magic show, or Big Brother, or Impro Theatre if we knew how they did them.

    Remember when Joey from Friends said the best way to cry in an emotional scene was to discretely pluck your public hairs with tweezers from your trouser pocket?

    I don't want to know that.
    It's too much information.

  2. Hmm
    I would suggest that the reason Matchbox 20 was more boring than Madonnas show is because they were, well, Matchbox 20. There is only so much you can overcome.

    However I'd take a live gig with actual live music by the cat empire or resin dogs over a "show" any day.

  3. Hey Beeso,

    You'll have to teach me about "gig" culture. I've never really got it, to tell the truth.

    I haven't been to all that many concerts. A couple of Nick Cave, and he's got great stage presence. TISM was lots of fun, because I could sing and dance along.

    A classical concert etc you're there to listen - but at a gig, when you're with friends, I always feel unsure how to act (not that I've been to many). I want to chat to my friends, but can't hear - or I want to bop along but it's not the place for it....

    It's just too confusing. I'll just go put Britney on in my living room and dance like a 12-year-old. ;)

  4. As far as I'm aware the furour is because they didn't show the closeup on the jumbo screen because of the lip-synching. This is only what I have heard though and I'm not sure if it is true.

  5. This is the non-est of non-stories. Firstly, she admitted to lip-synching many years ago. And secondly - you want to try singing at any kind of reasonable standard in the middle of some high-energy choreographed dance routine?

    As regards gig culture, the appropriate response is to stand around stroking one's beard and looking enigmatic and detached. This is why Beeso has a beard. Alternately you can dive into the silliness at front-of-stage, get sweaty, and possibly get injured; or you can stand in between the moshers and the beard-strokers and just wave your arms in the air, with the rest of us in betweeners.

  6. I choose front of stage and sweaty, for 20 points please Dr Yobbo.