I found this video of Sandie Shaw singing Puppet on a String that enabled Britain to win the Eurovision Song Contest in 1967. The video is interesting but not for the song itself. One reason is that Shaw’s lip-syncing is really bad. Another is that the young people selected to surround her and dance seem to be the most awkward and nerdy group they could have possibly picked, as if the producers went to a nearby high school to round up some students and found that only the chess club was available. Hell, even I could dance better than that and I don’t even dance. The song is a pretty silly one and the one notable thing about it is the tuba line that runs through the entire song, unusual for a pop song.
This video of Nancy Sinatra lip-syncing These boots are made for walking, made around the same time, shows how real dancers do it.
This was also a silly song, notable for making up words ‘truthing’ and ‘saming’ as antonyms for lying and changing. Thankfully, those words never caught on, though the current use of ‘truthers’ and Stephen Colbert’s ‘truthiness’ are similar.
I wonder how common lip-syncing is these days. Singers are obviously doing it on those fast-cut videos where the scene shifts every few seconds. But what about ‘live’ events or where the recording takes place in a single take with a backup band and everything? If it is, the performers seem to be much better at it, since it is only when something unexpected happens that it is revealed. Recall the infamous exposure of the duo Milli Vanilli twenty years ago when the sound system developed a glitch mid-song and repeated the same phrase over and over, forcing the ‘singers’ to run off the stage in embarrassment. This led to closer scrutiny and it was discovered that not only were they lip-syncing, they were not even the actual singers of the song and were lip-syncing to other people’s voices. That pretty much ended their careers.
A few days ago Madonna fell backwards down some steps while performing in London and hit her head, because the routine required her wearing a cape that a fellow dancer was meant to pull off. But the cape was put on too tight and she got pulled back instead, and it is quite scary to watch as she could have been very badly hurt. Being a true professional, she recovered well to get up and continue her song but the episode made it clear that she was really singing.