Britney Spear's Down Under lip-syncing causes a brouhaha
Should there be a law requiring disclosure?
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We’re crying crocodile tears for Britney Spears right now. Apparently, Brit Brit is upset about a story in the Australia press that claimed fans walked out of her Perth show on Friday, due, in part, to her lip-syncing, according to a story in Reuters. There seems to be some debate over how many, if any, disgruntled audience members stormed out and if the number was exaggerated by a reporter.
I’m of two minds about her lip-syncing. At this point, anyone who’s buying tickets to Spears’ show, which has been on the road for months, and is shocked, SHOCKED I say, that she is lip-syncing, has been living under a rock. So, I’m not buying the complaints.
But what remains is the greater question of is it okay for an artist to lip-sync virtually her entire show, as Spears does, and not disclose that fact in advance. In the U.S., apparently, the answer is yes. In the land down under, maybe not. According to MSNBC.com, there are now three Australian politicians calling for artists to disclose they are lip-syncing on their concert tickets.
By the time the patron is holding the ticket in their hot little hands, hasn’t that ship already sailed? If someone is serious about letting ticket buyers know in advance that the performer they are plunking down their money to see is lip-syncing, then doesn’t it make much more sense to declare that such information must run in all ads for the show and on the ticket agency’s site? Therefore, the consumer can decide if she wants to still attend the show before the purchase. It’s too late after they’ve bought the ticket to then reveal that information.
Where do you draw the line? If an artist’s vocals are largely live but she is singing to enhanced tapes, does that need to be disclosed? Does the idea only apply to the lead singer? What if there are other elements, such as music tracks, etc. Do they need to be disclosed beforehand?
The bigger question is does the public care? Fans have flocked to Spears’ website to voice their support for her (presumably they can still express themselves live, even if Britney can’t). Any fan of true rock is likely to feel that what Spears is doing is a sham. The beauty of seeing a live show is that you are watching the performer in a unique moment in time—warts and all. A real musician/artist should be able to sing live. But for non-rock fans, maybe it’s just what we’ve come to expect: we’re going to see a spectacle--a show-- and it’s to be judged in its entirety-- not on the vocals only, but the dancing, the costumes, the effects—the entire package. Plus, why the hue and cry is the artist is lip-syncing to his or her own vocals—canned as they may be?
Passing a law requiring tickets to state an artist is lip-syncing would change absolutely nothing. If anything, it might free up artists to stop the charade of pretending to sing to their songs as they gyrate around like strippers. Isn’t that the real hypocrisy: That Spears is even pretending to sing along so when anyone not in the first three rows watches the show on the big screens, Spears has to look like she’s singing? Let’s free her up to concentrate on her modest dancing skills since she can’t control those from the sound board.
Spears’ next show in Australia is Wednesday in Melbourne. We’ll continue to watch and see if the controversy grows or if the sound and fury—like Spears’ live voice in concert—goes silent.
Should artists be forced to disclose whether they lip sync in concert? Share your thoughts below.