It’s a lot of pressure for an artist to deliver pitch perfect vocal performances for big budget live broadcasts. There’s a lot that can go wrong, so it makes sense that they’d want to hedge their bets with a pre-recorded version…just to be on the safe side. Unfortunately, sometimes this purely practical decision comes back to haunt them in a big way! Occasionally it becomes an amusing footnote to their career (sorry, Ashlee Simpson), while other times it completely destroys it. Read on for 10 of the biggest upsets caused by lip syncing!
10. Iron Maiden on German TV, 1986
When metal gods Iron Maiden were forced to pretend to play during an appearance on the German television P.I.T., front-man Bruce Dickinson decided to play it for the laughs, swapping instruments with the bass player, and just generally making a mockery of the proceedings. Needless to say, they were never invited back.
9. Johnny Rotten and Public Image LTD on American Bandstand, 1980
He’d already shocked British television viewers by dropping F-bombs on a morning chat show alongside his mates in the Sex Pistols back in 1976, but Johnny Rotten (A.K.A. John Lydon) once again struck fear into the hearts of live TV producers during a visit to Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. The punk pioneer refused to mime during an appearance with his new band Public Image LTD, and instead he sat on the floor of the studio, threw himself into the assembled audience, and stuck his nose into the camera while recordings over his own voice played. At his instigation crowd flooded the stage, and the recording soon descended into chaos. Dick handled it like a champ, but PIL mysteriously never appeared on the show again. Wonder why…
8. Britney Spears At The VMAs, 2007
Following Brit’s well-documented personal troubles earlier in the year, fans were hoping that her much-touted MTV gig would be a return to form after three years away from the concert stage. Sadly, their hopes were dashed when Britney showed up dazed and confused, barely bothering to mime the lyrics to her new single, “Gimme More.” It wasn’t so much the lip syncing that caused the scandal (that’s nothing new for Brit, or for award shows), but pretty much everything else.