How Does Stephen Merchant's 'Lip Sync Battle' Performance Of "Dirrty" Compare To Christina Aguilera's Original?

I know it's not for everyone — even if I don't understand why it's not — but I love me some Lip Sync Battle . Big Hollywood stars acting the fool as they re-enact some of the biggest pop songs, all while trash talking their opponents? I'm sorry, but what exactly is not to love here? Nothing, that's the answer. The most recent star to take the stage was The Office co-creator Stephen Merchant, who performed an absolutely insane version of Christina Aguilera's "Dirrty", complete with leather chaps and some rather uncomfortable — and absolutely hilarious — butt shaking.

Merchant's performance against Malin Akerman was one of the best bits of musical genius we've seen so far this season, but here's the real question: How did it compare to the original? Aguilera's 2002 video made serious waves in the music world and marked a departure from her earlier, clean-cut teen pop star persona. Could Stephen match the attitude and feel? Could he possibly channel his inner diva in order to bring out the fierceness that "Dirrty" requires? Well, I suppose that's subjective. What I will say is that it's clear he really put his heart into it, so whether or not he measures up to the original is for you to decide.


Christina: After arriving to a boxing ring on a motorcycle, Christina — or XTina, as she began to be known at this stage — immediately throws herself into the middle of things to show you she's there for the fight, be it literal or metaphorical.

Stephen: While still in the cage he was wheeled out in, Stephen masters something even some of the most successful supermodels still struggle with: smizing, or smiling with the eyes. That smile isn't a friendly one, however; it's a smile that basically says he's here to take everything you love away from you. Chilling.

Crowd involvement

Christina: As soon as she arrives, XTina knows what she's got to do: get the crowd on her side. She's the victor, and she wants you to know it — and make sure you're behind the clear winner. People seem into it, too, so it looks like she's doing a pretty good job.

Stephen: Probably because he was a bit nervous, Stephen didn't really work it with the crowd. The performance was FOR the audience but didn't involve them, which is a bit of a shame, but I guess it happens.

Butt shaking

Christina: I mean, not everyone can rock butt-less chaps, but XTina went there and she made it work. This is a bit hard to compete with, as you have to admit, this is pretty amazing butt-shaking work.

Stephen: While very clearly not as coordinated and perhaps slightly less enjoyable to watch, you've got to hand it to Stephen for truly committing to the role set before him and "putting his back into it", if you will. A+ for effort, if not execution.

Whatever this move is

Christina: You've got to be pretty agile to get into crouching position and do the open leg pop (yep, that's an official term), and XTina did it with ease. It seems to be a big hit with the cheering crowd, as well!

Stephen: You've got to appreciate faithfulness to the original, so the fact that Stephen included this move gives him major points off the top. The actualization is a bit shifty, but all in all, I think he did a pretty solid job with it.


Christina: The thing with a song like "Dirrty" is that you've got to really BELIEVE it. You've gotta commit to this whole sex pot character to make others believe that you're feeling yourself as hard as the lyrics suggest. I think it's safe to say that XTina succeeded in this.

Stephen: If anything, I think Stephen wins this round simply because this whole thing is clearly so foreign to him, but he's here and ready to win, so nothing's going to stop him from going whole hog. Are you a little uncomfortable? Probably. And maybe that's the point!

Overall performance

Christina: It's her song, so clearly the performance is going to be stellar. The dancing was on point, the attitude was perfect for '02, the hair and wardrobe were hilarious, the party atmosphere was going strong... basically it was (and continues to be) amazing.

Stephen: He won the round on Lip Sync Battle, and he won hearts everywhere for giving himself so selflessly to what were certainly very big shoes to fill. While the original "Dirrty" video may stay with us forever, I think this performance probably will, too.

Here's Stephen Merchant's full performance, for your viewing pleasure.

Lip Sync Battle on Spike on YouTube

Image: Spike