Britney Spears lip-synching controversy: (not) shock of the decade?

By now, the “revelation” of Britney’s lip-synching on her current Circus tour is about as newsy as Jon Gosselin picking himself up a new lil’ silk-screened something at the Ed Hardy mega-mart.

So why has it grabbed so many headlines this past week? The story came to a head in Australia, where Circus‘s 14-date Down Under leg has been met with widespread media derision, calls by politicians for laws forcing prominently placed disclaimers in the case of a lip-synched performance, and even fan walkouts. Word spread that dozens of disgruntled concert-goers—most of whom paid from $97 to $1500 AUS per ticket—left the pop superstar’s Friday-night show in Perth, spurred by Spears’ “crap” performance and repeated miming of lyrics. Watch a clip, below:

“We were led to believe the lip-syncing was necessary because her dancing was so good, so rigorous, she couldn’t possibly sing,” writes entertainment journalist Rebekah Devlin, who gathered the testimonials of disappointed fans. “But her moves were sloppy and stiff, as well as out of time.”

Spears’ Australian promoter vehemently denied the claims, saying,”Britney is aware of all this and she’s extremely upset by it. She’s a human being. I’m embarrassed, with such a big international entourage here with Britney, to be part of the Australian media when I see that kind of totally inaccurate reporting.” And her manager Adam Leber likewise responded with a post on Spears’ Twitter page: “Its unfortunate that one journalist in Perth didn’t enjoy the show last night. Fortunately the other 18,272 fans in attendance did. – Adam.”

Even John Mayer, in Australia to promote his new album, joined the fray, tweeting, “If you’re shocked that Britney was lip-syncing at her concert and want your money back, life may continue to be hard for you.”

What do you think, Music Mixers—is the expectation of live performance what you pay to see with Britney, or is it the spectacle? Having attended a tour date in New York earlier this year—and watched the clip from the Perth show above—the saddest thing to me is how little Spears herself seems to enjoy being up there; she often looks distracted, overwhelmed, and frankly, like she’d rather be somewhere else. If she doesn’t want to be there, should we?

More from EW.com’s Music Mix:
Sunday CMA rehearsal Not-Quite-Liveblog: Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, and more!
Rihanna’s Diane Sawyer interview, part 1
Rihanna’s Diane Sawyer interview, part 2: The night she was assaulted
Danny Gokey debuts new single ‘It’s Only’: What do you think?
Kris Allen’s ‘Live Like We’re Dying’ video: You digging it?

Comments (265 total) Add your comment
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  • Brooke

    They thought she had to lipsync because she couldn’t dance and sing at the same time? I say this as a big Britney fan – she lipsyncs because she doesn’t have a voice that does well without studio help.

    You don’t go to a Britney concert for the voice, you go for the performance. If they thought the performance sucked, they ought to just say so instead of this strange outrage over lipsyncing. What year is this, 1999?

    • Tim

      The problem is this is billed as a CONCERT – not a ‘performance’. A concert implies a LIVE performance – not a lipsynch. A performance can be whatever you want it to be, Britney’s drag show included.

      She is a scam artist. These ‘productions’ or ‘performances’ are indeed, what they are, but they are NOT concerts. Don’t call them/label them as such and problems will cease.

      • Jenna

        Again, anyone that goes to a Britney show knows what they are getting for their money. If they don’t by now, they are idiots.

      • Kellie

        Totally agree, apparently this isn’t an “everybody knows” situation since their were so many people walking out. Obviously people have lost a grip on reality if they think this is acceptable. Why would you pay so much money just to see a mock concert??

      • j

        jenna your right. brit know a little bit of dancing singing and preforming you can tell me that you went to the concert for her to be like celine dion… . listen to her cd its made with computers. she does enough to have talent. she’s like maddona, but maddona does dance better. she just needs to step it up a notch.

      • HarkerJ

        She’s practically a drooling chimp. She can do nothing. She can hardly speak a coherent sentence. And America celebrates this. And gives her money. Which makes her smarter than your average American. Does anyone else find this terrifying?

      • Jean-Paul

        Heh don’t say it’s Americans supporting her suckiness. Most of us think she is talentless. It’s trailer park trash around the world listening to her crappy music, it’s not exclusive to America. Most of us went to Depeche Mode and the Pet Shop Boys this summer, not her ghetto tour.

    • Diane

      Agreed. I’m not sure Britney ever sang on stage

    • Stan

      You pay because you’re gullible and not really interested in music. There’s better ways to spend money on real dance as poopsed to feeding the tabloid kitty.

      • jared4ever

        Anybody who paid for a ticket and didn’t know she lip synched has never heard of Britney Spears, what is that about a fool and his money are soon parted? There u go.

      • CCCJ

        What’s poopsed? Sounds really nasty.

      • Stan

        Soory, II wad tryinf t typ reelly faast. AA housannd hardons.

      • Melinda65

        “Poopsed” made me giggle. It’s strangely appropriate. :-D

    • ChunkyRed

      Britney can’t sing live which is why she lip synchs. Why are we even having this conversation because it’s been known since 1999. You get what you pay for. She can’t possibly be expected to sing live for 2 hours. Even Michael Jackson lip synchs one or two songs to save his voice and since she doesn’t have one, she lip synchs just about the entire show. I’m still a fan though.

      • Sam

        Didn’t realize Michael Jackson is still doing concerts. Way to go, MJ!

      • BlackIrish4094

        And what do you mean she can’t be expected to sign for two hours? Then don’t tour. Or play a small venue with lower prices. Artists used to really, really play for more than two hours. Is this shocking to you idiot?

      • Danno

        Yeah you can just delete the word “live” from your post and it would be more accurate.

      • max

        I feel very sorry for Ms.Spears
        Its just greedy hangerson making her perform. Someone please tell her the truth. Its Over

    • BlackIrish4094

      You are a freakin idiot? Getting upset about lip synching went out of vogue in 1999. I remember when all shows were live and I am only in my 30′s. Idiots like you are why “performers” can get away with this stuff.

    • Branko

      I’m from Perth and have a fair few friends who went – not one of them complained about the lipsyncing (that seems to be more a media thing), but every one of them complained about either the quality of the performance and her dance moves, the sound quality of the venue or the fact they couldn’t see anything but a dot on the stage despite having paid US$190 for the concert. Judging from the clip, I can see the point about the dance moves. Perth does get a lot of decent concerts and festivals moving through due to it being a very isolated city (we are 1650 mi./2700km from the nearest) and some bands don’t cope with the pressure – REM and the Cranberries come to mind. However Pink’s concert earlier this year was fantastic as was Kylie Minogue last(?) year.

    • Taylor

      OMG first of all everyone should go to a concert for performance AND singing people shouldn’t just go to a concert for dancing if you do just go to recitle and if you can sing well without studio help you can’t sing at all period… because she most have a lot of studio help because the studio is to make your voice sound clear and up beat….. Britney can not sing but i am a fan of her music Mfr

  • Anoano

    I wonder why she can’t dance anymore, is it because of her meds? She looks sloppy and like she’s just going through the motions.

    • LB

      I’ve wondered that too. She used to at least put on a fantastic “performance.” But since getting straight after the Britney meltdown–her dancing has suffered.

      • Kellie

        Did she really have enough time to “get straight”? She went from public meltdown to concert mega star.

  • ashley

    her ‘dancing’ is just sad.
    she lacks so much talent…people should not be surprised if she lip syncs.

    • paige

      yea what happened to her… Janet lipsynchs cause she endlessly gets her fat a** on the floor so its excused. Madonna lipsynchs when she is gyrating like a 15 year old having a seizure otherwise when its downtime or she “plays” a guitar she is actually singing up there… Brit has been lipsynching for years even when she’s just sitting there… I wouldnt pay to see her live and anybody who does and is pissed that she doesnt sing is an idiot.

      • Sam

        I have been to Madonna’s las 4 tours and I have never seen her lip-sync.

      • Jake

        Hi Sam, I love Madonna… always have and always will but I gotta tell ya, she does lip synch from time to time – you didn’t really believe that her Vogue performance from Re-Invention was ‘live’ did you? or “Sorry” from Confessions… what I do like about Madonna is that she doesn’t flat out lip it… she has backing tracks that she lets take over if she runs out of breath during her more energetic performances, otherwise she actually sings live (sometimes, horrendously but I love her all the more for it) Britney is just straight up milli vanilli’ing it

      • katie

        i agree that dancing wasn’t good i have been to lot of conserts and that is dancing was not very good

  • Stephanie

    Honestly, if people are dumb enough to pay that much for a lack of singing and some crappy dance moves, they deserve to be disappointed. Everybody with half a brain knows that Brit can’t sing and that she’s lost her ability to dance as well.

    • Hazel

      Agreed!

  • Joey

    Didnt someone from Entertainment Weekly go to her Madison Square Garden show and love it?
    The show is great, when you’re there she DOES look like she’s enjoying herself. ANYONE who goes to her show expecting some amazing live vocals is an idiot. She’s been doing this for a decade – it is not news. I’m sure this article will be filled with negative comments about her miming, but really- she’s the biggest selling female artists of the decade. The lip synching seems to be working out for her.

    • RyRyNYC

      actually… she isn’t… that would go to Norah Jones… shocking i know!

      • Kyle

        Nope. Sorry dude. Do your research again. Britney is the biggest selling female artist of the decade. 5th Artist overall.

      • fancypants

        actually, no, it really is Norah Jones. her debut album sold a lot (and won a slew of grammys).

      • Kyle

        NOO….Norah Jones may have the biggest selling ALBUM by a female. Britney is the biggest overall. That means all her albums combined, Britney is the biggest selling female of the decade. I’m sorry you may not want it to be true, doesnt change the fact that it is.

    • Jason

      Sadly, this is true. Number one overall is Eminem and number two is the Beatles. Kind of sad when you think about it.

      • Nick T

        they all clearly said female…

  • brian

    I still don’t get what the issue is. we’ve known she lip-synced since her beginning days. her ticket prices have only gotten more expensive (though she still sales out stadiums) even though she has continued to lip-sync. i watched the clip, her dancing seemed as it always does. i guess i’m missing the problem. or maybe it’s just australia. i’ll have to go watch the really great movie now :)

    • Patrick

      She played one stadium on this tour, she sells out arenas, not stadiums.

      • Justin

        Exactly. She sells out arenas. We are talking 16,000-18,000 people…pretty impressive. Her fans who have stuck with her for 10 years obviously don’t mind. You go to a Britney show for the spectacle, not live vocals.

      • OMG

        I can’t imagine why anyone would go to her show. No singing and the only spectacle is the fact that she can remain in an upright position on the stage. Sorry, but her choreography is LAME and she seems completely disconnected to what she is doing. I can’t believe that people are surprised or upset about the lit synching – they should be upset they were stupid enough to A) support her career and B) give up not only their money but the time in their life that they can never get back to watch something so artistically lacking and listen to something so void of content.

      • Branko

        To be fair, if she didn’t show up at all but you had the music and the backing dancers/artistes, you would actually have a pretty good show. Just maybe not one you’d pay as much for. Cirque du Soleil and that sort of thing manage pretty well.

  • bedc01

    So what you people are saying is that its ok to pay money to see someone move around and not sing at all? Wow, so brittney should not sell hersellf as a pop singer then..

    • hannah

      exactly, Britney should not sell herself as a pop singer. She rather be a pop star. :)

  • Lindsey

    The problem now is that she’s not the strong dancer she used to be. Watching old performances (pre-KFed-days) she was a powerful dancer able to keep up w/ the professionals, that’s why she stood out.. that along w/ the hot beats. Either you gotta sing well or dance well, she did neither and that is why its sad. I love Brit and hope she can really come back one day. She has a voice, she used to sing live all the time in her earlier days before the option of lip-syncing came into place. One day, we will see the star we saw rock the stage again!

    • Patrick

      She’s sung live on *maybe* 5 TV shows in her whole career, and on ONE song in the Onyx Hotel Tour.

      She had a decent voice when she was a kid in talent contests, but when she hit puberty her voice disappeared. It happens to lots of kids.

    • Jack

      Spot on Lindsey!!!!Way to take the words right out of my mouth!

  • brandy

    she looks numb to me. it’s gotta be meds.

  • Tonia

    I’m pretty sure I’d be upset if this clip was any indication of the “show” put on by Britney. There wasn’t much dancing going on, mostly hair flipping and such. As for the lip-synching, I find it hard to believe that after this long that anyone is surprised by Britney lip-synching. I don’t think she’s ever had a show where she didn’t do it.

    • November

      Madonna doesn’t sing live. You must be jocking. She lip-synchs all her shows.

      • paige

        actually if you ever have seen a Madonna show you would clearly know when she is lipsynching to when she is not…

      • TG

        That is absolutely not true – Madonna sings live.

      • Jake

        hater

  • Patrick

    Are we surprised? She’s talentless.

    And dancing isn’t an excuse to lip, Madonna manages dancing and singing live just fine.

    • Jenna

      Then go to a Madonna show and skip Britney’s. No big loss. She will still sell out arenas haha.

      • RyRyNYC

        Britney doesn’t come within 1/4 of Madonna’s sales and sell outs… dumbass

  • Sparklewave

    Watching the Michael Jackson movie was a reminder of what real talent is. He can sing AND dance. I enjoy Britney’s albums, but when I listen, I am acutely aware that they have been electronically manipulated. As for singing during a show… in this clip, she’s not even dancing. She’s swaying her hips back and forth. That’s not even entertaining. I like Britney, but I am hoping the trend of stuido-made singers will end soon.

    • Branko

      It’s symptomatic of the entire pop genre right now. I was amazed when I saw how they put together Westlife’s song “Flying Without Wings” on a documentary … it would be absolutely impossible to do live, as it is entirely dependent on massive overtracking and electronics (and in some cases, on dozens of people who aren’t even there.)

  • bamstrong

    if you went to a britney spears show, that’s the first of your problems.

    • Jenna

      I think it’s more sad and pathetic that you took time out of your “busy” day to comment. haha Sad.

      • OMG

        Ha ha like OMG Jenna. You are like so funny. Ha ha. Like OMG.

      • me

        I think it’s sad that you’re trolling this board and replying to every comment that rightfully bashes the no-talent loser. Retard.

  • Pete

    Anybody that would by that kind of money to watch a washed up narcissist deserves lip synching.

  • I don’t know my name

    Why don’t we just use an IPOD over studio PA system and a nice video

    • Nathan

      Why don’t we just shoot useless performers in the head?

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