Pop Culture Pet Peeve: Bad lip-synching

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Image Credit: ABC

Living in 2014 means I am constantly surrounded by musical TV shows, even when I don’t want to be. It all started with Glee. Then there was Smash, and now I’ve got Nashville. I realize that I could change the channel if I wanted, but what’s the point? Even my non-musical shows have started including musical numbers. For example, I recently started binge-watching Hart of Dixie, and even that show has Scott Porter behind a mic every couple of episodes! The lesson: There’s no escaping the music.

The good news is that it’s not the music that I have a problem with. As much as I enjoy a singing actor or actress, I’m not here to talk about their beautiful (or not-so-great) vocal abilities. If they’re on television — and it’s not a live taping of The Sound of Music — they’re lip-synching. That is where my pet peeve begins.

Just to be clear, I don’t care about the fact that they’re lip-synching. I actually prefer it. I can’t imagine that actors singing live would sound very good, particularly if the song is part of an emotional scene. Nobody’s voice sounds good when they’re crying — what worked for Anne Hathaway won’t work for everyone. I get that, and I’m in full support of actors recording the music beforehand and then lip-synching on the show. However, there are a few people who could really use some help on the latter part of that process.

When Glee first premiered, I instantly became obsessed with Lea Michele’s voice. However, watching her lip-synch was another story. Between her overly expressive eyebrows and the fervor with which she opened her mouth, I was not a fan. But after seeing her sing live, I realized that that’s just how she sings. Basically, she’s incredibly natural when it comes to lip-synching, so I thereby crossed her off my hate list — sort of. The lips still get to me occasionally.

But that’s a small case. When it comes to Nashville, there’s one person I just can’t get on board with: Clare Bowen, who plays Scarlett. A lot of people have problems with her character just in general, but I have to say that her most annoying habit has to be her lip-synching. Not only does Bowen over-dramatize every single movement of her lips — it looks like she’s trying incredibly hard to enunciate air — but I always feel like her face is having some sort of a seizure where her expressions don’t match up with her lips or the lyrics. Often, in the middle of a sentence, her eyes will widen with panic and suddenly I’ll feel very confused about what is happening in the scene. Seconds later, she will be back to smiling and swaying from side to side.

Don’t believe me? Watch her sing alongside Chaley Rose (Zoey), and notice the difference between what looks natural and what looks like a 3-year-old singing for the first time. Also, what are those dance moves?!

Even if I found out that Bowen sings that way in the studio, I don’t think I’d be able to accept it. Then again, maybe I should just be thankful that Bowen is at least lip-synching to her own voice. Who else remembers watching Drew Barrymore butcher her lip-synching duties in Everyone Says I Love You? All the actors in the film used their own voice except for Barrymore, who lip-synched to someone else’s vocals, a fact that was painfully obvious.

There has got to be a solution here, right? How about this: First, you can only lip-synch to your own voice. And second, everyone has to take lessons from the amazing Naya Rivera. Agreed?

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