The age of the artists I prefer, can vary anywhere from 18 to over 80, though most of them are long dead by now. One thing they all have in common though is that they play their own instruments and/or sing live.
I personally do not think that someone like Johnny Cash, Howlin’ Wolf or Muddy Waters would have settled for miming the words to their songs. Of course, miming on stage is not a modern-day ailment. Even though we’d like to think that all this miming of late is due to the fact that the modern-day popstrel ‘s voice is just too weak or that there is no possible way that they would be able to emulate the recorded song which has been overproduced by the particularly zealous sound engineers in the studio.
For years, people have been miming to their own songs. In fact, on a program like Top of the Pops, it was what you had to do if you wanted to have a UK hit. It was the ultimate platform of that once upon a time era (the pre-internet days) and whatever rule TOTP inflicted on the artist, the artist went with it. Bands like Nirvana, The Cure and The Smiths, thankfully made a mockery of this forced miming. Others such as Milli Vanilli and Britney Spears embraced it as it was the only chance for them to sound somewhat decent.
Of course we all remember the tragic Milli Vanilli Saga. For some time, the rumour persisted that none of the two guys actually sang a single note and there were whispers that two other men were in fact recording their tracks. Milli Vanilli, it was said, were just two puppets in the whole charade, dreamed up by a recording label. However, nothing was proven until that faithful moment in 1989 when their song ‘Girl You Know It’s True’ skipped during a supposedly live performance on MTV. The world felt cheated and reacted brutally to this fraud. Eventually and after a long battle with addiction, one of the two Millis committed suicide. Whether his spiralling down the abyss was due to the miming revelation, we’d never know for sure. Fact is, in retrospect, it almost seems laughable how these two guys got lynched by their once adoring audience. As, ever since this incident, the unexplainable desire to mime has become standard practice within the industry.
The usual reason given for this deception is that the artist would have to jump and dance so much on stage, there is absolutely no way they could deliver such an energetic spectacle whilst singing pitch perfect too. Now, in the case of the little cute Chinese girl : Lin Miaoke, who charmed everyone with her perfect rendition of ‘Ode To The Motherland’ at the Beijing Olympics Grand Opening ceremony, it wasn’t that she couldn’t sing live due to heavy break-dancing and some ingenious spinning on her head. No, she mimed the song because the real singer (who by the way won a competition to sing at the Olympics) was deemed to be not beautiful enough to take such centre stage.
This week, in the news, we heard about Beyonce who lip synced the Star Spangled Banner during the inauguration of President Obama. Then straight after, we were being told by the press that Beyonce DID sing live after all but that the backing band mimed instead. All so confusing and pretty much shocking that nor band or artist were considering playing or singing live for a barely five-minute slot. Madonna also relied on a recorded track when she had performed at the Super Bowl. Though, it has to be agreed that at least, Madonna’s face showed the strain of her acrobatic routine on stage when halfway her performance, it turned an alarming shade of red. Meanwhile Beyonce and her backing band, being totally static during the performance, had no real excuse not to sing or play live.
That makes me think: why stick to simple lip syncing? If you are going to mime, do it properly. Consider the style of the Mime Marcel Marceau and pretend you are trying to escape a box or if you want to stretch your style, try to impersonate a mountain goat on stage.
I am kidding of course and won’t stand for any lip syncing myself. As why would I have to pay so much money to see someone pretending to be a singer? Where is the rock’ n roll in that?
I mean, if I would want to see someone mime, I’d ask my dad to lip sync to an Elvis record and he’ll do it for free. Knowing him, he’ll incorporate the jerky arm moves and hip shaking and I wouldn’t have to leave the house to enjoy such grand show.
So, is it that these artists are just too scared to reveal that in reality, they’re just the pretty face with not much talent we suspected them to be? Or has technology become so advanced that we believe that everything can be done digitally? Why bother to strain your vocal chords if the machine can do it for you?
I personally believe that if an artist is miming, the cost to see them perform should be reduced by half or they should at least make everyone who’s buying a ticket, aware, that there will be no live singing offered: ‘as the artist can’t be bothered really’.
Luckily, my preferred choice of music is a universe away from the contemporary mockery on offer. Fact is, if I had been a lover of all things pop and crap, I’d be fuming to find out that my favourite artist is not bothered in the slightest to sing live but is more than happy to accept my hard-earned cash to watch them do a glorified karaoke performance – of themselves.
You know, upon reflection, even though I was kidding earlier on, the more I think about it, the more I believe that these ‘artists’ must give us a bit more value for money. They’re not going to drop the lip syncing any time soon. So here I am after all, up for them to explore the unusual approach of miming par excellence and as such, for them to consider climbing out of an imaginary box whilst doing that singing simulation thing of theirs. Although, I would always appreciate an impersonation of a mountain goat too.
Who knows then, miming may once again become an art form after all.