It has come to my attention that the heterosexual community is inviting itself to participate in lip-sync competitions on national television. "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" has featured spirited lip-sync battles with a number of celebrities, and they're often quite good. Quite enchanting! In fact, it's time for us to sort through Jimmy's combatants and pick out the king/queen of his lip-syncing galas. I'm exempting Jimmy since he has five times the experience of his competitors.
First of all, before we begin, here is what a real lip-sync competition looks like. If you're not watching "RuPaul's Drag Race," you're really missing cutting-edge work in the lip-syncing medium:
So there. Anyway: On we go to ranking the top five.
5. John Krasinski: Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream," Run DMC's "Peter Piper," and Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love to You"
Ironic that Krasinski was the one to introduce the idea of a lip-syncing contest to Fallon in the first place, because his technique needs the most work on this list. First of all, "Teenage Dream" and "I'll Make Love to You" are only funny in theory. They're a bit too obvious, a bit too lachrymose. And worse, Krasinski doesn't really live up to the power-pop bigness of "Teenage Dream," and he lets Jimmy cow him on the Boyz II men number. I appreciate his stage presence, but I didn't believe that he wanted to be my teenage dream or make love to me. And that is worst crime of all.
4. Stephen Merchant: DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince's "Boom Shake the Room" and Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)"
3. Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" and Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass"
This pains me, because both Merchant and JGL deliver in major ways. Merchant's "Boom Shake the Room" rendition is fantastic, fully realized and spilling with verve. He's in charge of that song. He is that song. But his "Single Ladies" attempt is a throwaway, merely an exhibition of copped dance moves that have been parodied for five years now. This was a wonderful opportunity to try "Lose My Breath" or "Solider" or a far less expected winner in the Beyonce oeuvre. Instead he chose the song your great aunt Pam knows.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, meanwhile, brought chutzpah and James Brown-sized spectacle to his two unfortunately staid choices. "Tiny Dancer" is just not a thrilling lip-sync selection, and while the labial agility required of a "Super Bass"-slaying contender is staggering, it is one of the most ubiquitous "fast-talking" songs of the past few years. Hell, Taylor Swift sang it once. But Taylor Swift couldn't possibly emulate the mic stand-rocking, devastating commitment that JGL puts on. He is lost in the yellow brick road of Elton glamor and Nicki zeal. I do wish he could've made a little more of an ass of himself, if only because I suspect JGL really takes himself quite seriously (Anybody else get that feeling?), but he managed to eke out a real performance nonetheless.
2. Emma Stone: Blues Traveler's "Hook" and DJ Khaled's "All I Do is Win"
You may be surprised that newbie Emma charts so high, but let me explain what she accomplished. First of all, Blues Traveler and DJ Khaled are both very inspired, very different, illuminatingly strange song choices. It is weird that Emma Stone knows the words to "Hook" and wants to share that with us. Her selection is personal and raw and outrageous. And Dr. Khaled -- while not a terribly difficult cover subject in his jubilant proclamations -- is still a crowd-pleasing and gigantic-enough pick to make for great lip theater. Like Stephen Merchant, she is not afraid to be a little bit bizarre. And her performance, ultimately, is nothing but endearing.
1. Paul Rudd: Tina Turner's "Better Be Good to Me" and Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now"
No question, this is the best. No question. Paul Rudd's first song choice is GENIUS -- "Better Be Good to Me" is one of the nerviest Tina Turner jams, and Paul is clearly aware of her every snarl, her every whisper, her every shout. No one else would choose that song but Paul Rudd, and that's what a lip-sync competition is secretly about: insane, alien-like individuality. And for his followup, he may have chosen a known, relatively safe stadium act with Queen, but he chose a fabulously underrated bopper with "Don't Stop Me Now." But what seals the victory? During that Queen performance when Rudd looks at both cameras with an unhinged stare, it's clear he has something all the other performers don't: the ability and desire to freak everybody out. Yes. That is why we have these things. Yes. Girl, I love you, man.