Shreyanka Mazumdar (BOMBAY TIMES; May 15, 2017)

Justin Bieber's performance at the D Y Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai marked the India leg of his Purpose World Tour and fetched the state government a cool, though not unexpected, Rs 3 crore approximately. Around 45,000 Beliebers thronged the stadium to see the Canadian pop star sing live. But turns out, a huge section of his fans were disappointed because the show didn't turn out the way they expected it to. While concert-goers were looking forward to hearing him improvise his songs on stage, little did they know Bieber would lip-sync 12 tracks out of his set. The funniest part? The singer didn't even try to make the put-on act believable. From digs at an unusually long list of demands (including a chopper and fancy upholstery) to clothes that looked straight out of a basketball match, fans vented it all on social media...


Performing artistes are expected to dance even as they sing. Michael Jackson, Madonna, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake and Usher are known to do that. But when you go for a concert of Eric Clapton, Elton John, Adele or Taylor Swift, you know they will only sing as you watch them perform live. What is important is to know if the performer is also a good singer. Justin Bieber is a talented singer whose voice is not computer generated. When it comes to him, one has to first decide if they want him to sing or perform. Because if you wish to put up a rocking dance performance, it's not possible to sing all through.

People were waiting to catch a glimpse of Justin Bieber. Some may vouch never to see him again even though he has promised to be back and for others, it's good enough to have seen him just once. When it comes to ethics, it's just like watching a mimed philharmonic. I fail to understand why an artiste should travel all the way from another country to meet his fans and then sing perhaps just two songs. Having said that, Bieber is a great singer and I couldn't figure out if he was under any compulsion to put up a show like that.

JEET GANNGULI, singer-composer
Artistes lip-sync during televised shows. They do the same for music videos as technically, it's not possible to do both at the same time. But in places where they are connecting with the audience directly, it's not ethical to lip-sync, all the more, when people are paying a hefty amount for the tickets to hear you sing.

ANUPAM ROY, singer-composer
There is no rule in India that defines how a stage act should be conducted. So, anyone wanting to lip-sync can go ahead with it. I don't think even Shakira was singing live on the World Cup stage. The stakes are so high and the investment is so much that no artiste can take the risk to go wrong on a platform like that. Lip-sync, as a trend, has been going on for ages. An artiste can also develop a sore throat and might be unable to sing. It's not possible for him to then cancel the day's show as it involves a lot of artistes and money, too, is a factor.

Mohabbat mein nahin hai fark jeene aur marne ka ussi ko dekh kar jeete hai jis zalim par dum nikle. Since our culture is rapidly changing, most continue to look up to the West. When an artiste is visiting India, he or she already has a perception and knows they can get away with anything. The audience is to be blamed equally for this. For an artiste, the stage is the temple and singing, his religion. So, a basic amount of honesty is needed when one is performing. Since art is not a medium to con people, it's important to know if the audience really loves the artiste or his art. India is a country of Tagore, Swami Vivekananda, Bhimsen Joshi, Pt Kumar Gandharva, Pt Hridaynath Mangeshkar, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and other greats. What are we adding to our culture by bringing Justin Bieber, who is all but singing? I have travelled the world with Kailasa and our demands have been bare minimum. All we want to do is to propagate our music and we do that with great honesty. Ultimately, this is what matters.


Who: Mariah Carey
When: 2017 New Year's Eve
Who can forget Grammy-winning singer Mariah Carey's major lip-sync fail during the New Year's Eve performance at Times Square in New York? Performing live at the venue, the singer struggled hard to salvage the situation after the wrong song played. She stopped singing abruptly and encouraged the audience to finish off the lyrics to Emotions for her. Carey later described she was 'mortified' and blamed it on an in-ear monitor malfunction.

Who: Beyoncé
When: 2013
Queen Bey lip-synced the national anthem at the inaugural ceremonies for former US president Barack Obama! The live performance of The Star-Spangled Banner at the event was merely a lip-synced run-through of a track she had recorded earlier. However, Carey shut trolls up when she said, “It was about the president and the inauguration, and I wanted to make him and my country proud, so I decided to sing along with my pre-recorded track, which is very common in the music industry.“

Who: Katy Perry
When: 2013
While performing her hit number Roar at the NRJ Music Awards in Cannes, Katy Perry suffered a major lip-sync fail. Her lips couldn't match the track playing in the backdrop, creating a rather long delay.

Who: Chris Brown
When: 2012
R&B star Chris Brown was caught in the middle of a controversy during his dance-heavy performance at the Billboard Music Awards in 2012. While many were of the opinion that with all the dancing Chris does, it isn't really a big deal if he lip-syncs, some were mighty upset. His mime during his Turn Up The Music at the show drew flak from the music industry. Singer Pink tweeted about the incident, saying, “One day if I lip-sync, I hope I do it as well as him.“ Joe Jonas too took to social media to voice his displeasure over the incident. “What happened to people singing live?“ he wrote.

Who: Shakira
When: 2010
The Waka Waka singer was caught lip-syncing during the FIFA World Cup inauguration concert held in South Africa. The pre-recorded track kept playing even before she stepped on to the stage, thus leaving her completely mortified. That the singer was miming to glory was painfully evident. But then again, when Shakira is on stage, you want her to stun and boy, did she stun with her body swaying to music!

Who: Lindsay Lohan
When: 2004
The Mean Girls actress started her career with a lip-syncing scandal. The pop star turned up on the sets of Good Morning America, supposedly and expectedly, to sing live. But Lohan's mouth was not moving because she had forgotten the lyrics to her first single, Rumors. The song was heard in the background. And this was the day her debut album Speak hit the stores!

Who: Britney Spears
When: 2007
At the 2007 VMA, Britney Spears was heavily crticised for lip-syncing. The performance, which was poised as her comeback, was not just evidently lip-synced, but fans were disappointed that she didn't even care to do anything about it. A sparkly black bikini and her blonde locks didn't help her poor performance.

Who: Milli Vanilli
When: 1989
In July 1989, German R&B duo Milli Vanilli lost their Grammy because there was pressure from the American media after a lip-sync scandal involving them. During a live performance in Connecticut, the recording of the song Girl You Know It's True began to fall off-key, repeating the line Girl, you know it's...over and over on the speakers. They put up the pretense for a few more minutes before doing the obvious -running off the stage. With that, the Grammy, too ran away.

- Singers often lip-sync because they are not able to reproduce the vocals that were originally on record. Temporary hitches include sore throat, performance pressure and logistics.
- Time constraints is a hindrance as well. A live performance typically takes some time to set up, which includes a thorough soundcheck for all the musical instruments involved. In case the musicians don't have time for this, they take the lip-sync way.
- Sound engineers often add the Midas touch, or as they say in musical terms, autotune, to make a singer's voice flawless. This isn't possible during a live performance.
- Besides, if singers are dancing on stage while singing, they don't get enough time to breathe in between.
- Many singers are really not very good at singing and mostly depend on artificial enhancements that make them sound good in the studio. But performing in front of a live audience? That's a different ball game altogether.
- It gives singers peace of mind knowing that their song will be perfect so they can focus on their performance (audience interaction, dancing and the build-up).