For The Record, Britney Spears' Lip-Syncing in Vegas Is Not a Problem
Monday, word from Britney Spears' weekend in Las Vegas spread like wildfire — if wildfire was made of glitter, nostalgia, and Miley Cyrus' boneless neck-bobbing. But among the giddy tales of "amazing" moments and Mario Lopez cameos, there was one uglier narrative: Spears was caught lip-syncing. The story that reporters followed for months before Spears debuted her Las Vegas residency appears, by many first-hand accounts, to be true and against all reason, the lip-sync incident prevails as one of the top stories coming out of Spears' new show. Go figure the woman whose name was so inextricably tied to the term "lip syncing" that she remains the mascot for the pop music practice above Beyonce, Ashley Simpson's jig, and Milli Vanilli, gets caught lip syncing while performing demanding dance moves night after night in Vegas. There is zero surprise in critics' "discovery" of Spears techniques, and even if there was, it absolutely doesn't matter.
Think about it. Try to remember the last time you or anyone you know heard a Spears song and said, "Britney's got such a great singing voice." Now stop, because it probably never happened. Spears has never been known for her vocal ability, outside of the late 1980s when she was merely a child performer with loads of gumption. She's not a pop music legend because we heard "(Hit Me) Baby, One More Time" and were absolutely rattled to our cores by her vocal ability. Spears' is a very visual fame — one that hinges on music videos and live performances.
Her more historical performances moments include kissing Madonna at the VMAs, dancing with a live snake at the VMAs, ripping off her clothes at the VMAs, and dancing on desks with *NSYNC (again) at the VMAs. Each instance was coupled with the sort of dance moves most people only dream of being capable of and a costume that would get most people thrown into an asylum. Her music videos are often epic, sending Spears into space to play hypnotic alien lover to an unsuspecting astronaut in "Oops, I Did It Again," making her a dangerous femme fatale in "Womanizer," and giving her an army of desert dance minions in "Work Bitch." It's undeniable that Spears' fame rests on her ability to enthrall us.
Besides, in the larger scheme of pop music, Spears' role in establishing a Vegas-level spectacle as a mainstay of pop music is irrefutable. Her over-the-top performances begat Katy Perry's cupcake bras and, perhaps unfortunately, Miley Cyrus' foam finger. Some of Beyonce's most spectacular outings owe their existence to the bar upheld by Spears' early performances. Her legacy is a superficial one and one that demands nothing from her vocal ability.
While Perry, Cyrus, or Beyonce would (or have, in Bey's case) withstand an avalanche of disappointment from their fans should they lip sync at a concert or ticketed performance, Spears fans know — though some can't seem to admit it — that our sparkling lady lip syncs. We've seen it on display in person, on television, in concert specials, and, of course, in the numerous headlines this practice seems to generate. Yet, Spears' vocal cheat is no more a piece of shocking than the notion that Cyrus has performed yet another sex act for public consumption. It's not news.
Seeing Spears live in concert in Las Vegas is, like much of Vegas' delights, about the experience. Some might choose to gamble all day and suspend their disbelief long enough to think they might win their money back while others do the same in an attempt to imagine they might get their Britney back. And getting the Britney experience back means letting some man-behind-the-curtain-type pull strings, flash lights, and play a finely auto-tuned version of Spears' voice over the speakers while the woman of the hour does her best to convince us that the speaker is actually in her throat.
Sure, if Spears was the sort of singer who switched to lip-syncing later in her career — like Mariah Carey has been accused of doing — her lack of sync-ability might be a bit distracting, but Spears is nothing if not a professional lip-syncer. She's been doing it almost her entire career and at this point, anyone who buys a ticket to watch the iconic pop star without expecting her to whisper her lyrics while a sound system picks up the slack is fooling themselves. She's not cheating her fans and she's not gaming the system. Spears is giving people the exact thing they've been buying for the past 15 years: a spectacular, completely manufactured illusion.
If that bothers you, you do know there is an entire industry of other artists worthy of your particular patronage, don't you?
Image: (GIF) Tumblr/beyxminaj