Thread January 7, 2017 editorial: comments
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Smoke and Mirrors
Happy New Year! I hope yours was a lot happier than Mariah Carey's. In case you hadn’t heard, she had a bit of a meltdown during an appearance on the New Year's Rockin' Eve telecast. You could tell that something wasn't right through her first couple of songs, and by the third, her lips were so out of sync with the vocals it looked like a badly dubbed movie.
Apparently there was something wrong with her monitor mix, and partway through the third song she gave up in frustration, and stopped even pretending to sing. Meanwhile, her recorded lead vocal played on.
In an account of the Carey incident in the New Yorker, a network executive is quoted as saying that it’s considered “safer” to lip-sync for a TV appearance than to actually sing. I’m sorry, to me, that’s cheating. If you lip sync to a recording, it’s not a performance, it's smoke and mirrors.
Lip-syncing seems to be particularly common in the pop world. My theory is that if you see dancers on the stage behind the singer, there’s a good likelihood that the vocal is lip-synced. Why? Because it’s an indication that the artist considers the spectacle more important than the music.
Carey, or her management, perhaps, clearly decided it wasn’t worth the risk for her to actually sing on the telecast—they thought the safer route was to fake it. But, as it turned out, the opposite was true. A couple of flat or sharp notes wouldn’t have been nearly as embarrassing as what transpired on that Times Square stage.
I have more respect for a singer like Adele, who was at least trying to sing at last year’s Grammys, in what turned out to be a disastrously pitchy performance—also due in part to technical issues in her monitoring system. While I’ll admit to feeling a bit of schadenfreude from seeing somebody at that level mess up like that, at least she was actually singing. For Carey, I have no such sympathy. She was faking it, and she got busted.
Next time, Mariah, try singing. You might even enjoy it more—and the audience certainly will. Oh, and lose the dancers.
That said, it's the music industry who is to blame. Since most "tours" serve to pay back the record companies. While the music and merchandising sales go up, they make more money. So, if an artist gets sick, let them lip-sync and perform anyway. Make it a huge production with dancing everywhere and have them fake the music since they will be out of breath.
I don't care how big a star gets they need to practice. They need to review. They need to put the effort into performing live that it demands. Sure it can get boring but it's part of the process. Every theater production, concert, gig, I've been a part of, we worked our butts off and it shows in the end.
Oh yeah, and don't blame the sound guys. Crap brakes all the time. How it's handled is what sets the pros apart.
They're singers, not national heroes, and it's time to stop letting them fake it just because they're celebrities or because they wiggle their little tushies.
That's what happens when you conduct yourself as a supreme diva. When things don't go according to plan, you walk off in a frustrated huff. However, she can always take comfort in the fact that she has a lot of company in this increasingly onstage, non-professional behavior. The list is long, and getting longer. The crazy part? When she's on her game, her voice is not bad (when compared to many of today's "studio" singers). "lip-syncing" sucks! And, it sucks, big time! It's crazy how this form of fraudulent singing does not seem to bother today's younger audience. Imagine someone like Miles Davis "trumpet syncing" at a live venue. Or, even more preposterously, an entire band "syncing" at a live concert? The audience would be more than justified in their outrage.
My dear, sweet mother (formerly an accomplished opera singer) said that Mariah has been given far too many passes from her management; and that her recent behavior is the sheer result of a corrosive habit of undisciplined preparedness. I agree. One would think that with all of her years as an onstage performer, she would have been better able to deal with the situation. Unfortunately, onstage "meltdowns" these days appear to be the norm, rather than a rarity. I'm totally fed up with the lot of 'em.
When I sing in some pubs or other places where perfect monitoring is utopic, I still have the ability to stay in pitch and deliver a nice performance; am I a phenomenon? Don't think so.
And with all the money involved in TV production, I absolutely can't accept that an artist will not be allowed to perform really LIVE with all the technology available today!
Reality is not TV, and viceversa.
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