Saturday, December 3, 2011

The X-Factor Lip-Syncing

The big news from The X-Factor this Fall is not who got voted off last week, but that a miscalculation on the part of LeRoy Bell in the group number revealed that the ensemble were lip-synching. The X-Factor response? Everybody does it. For shame! That excuse never would have worked on my mother.

But I can't say I'm surprised. And it kind of makes me wonder what else they might be up to. Electronic vocal enhancement ? Auto-Tuning? Flex Time? A click track implant? All of which have potential as carefully selected manipulations that could serve to alter the success or failure of each contestant's performance.

It's no secret that these top contests are not reality-based. Au contraire, they build a roster that is carefully crafted to represent the most viewer-friendly cast. Could there also be a sinister controlling hand at work as well, constructing and directing a well balanced suspenseful sequence of events?

It doesn't take a musician's ear to hear that The X-Factor vocals seem to be more or less enhanced electronically. Could this partly explain why some singers appeared to excel one week and tank the next?

Now that's a pretty sinister notion right there -- that those in charge could conceivably control the direction and outcome of every show by manipulating the sound effects, or lack thereof, on individual artists' performances.

As a voice coach, I have consistently stressed that the national shows like American Idol and The X-Factor be required viewing for my students. There is a lot to learn about performing, song choice, and branding from them. But if these shows are not 100% live, what is this teaching them? This kind of news leads young singers to believe they do not have to bother to perfect their vocals because their mistakes will be corrected electronically.

As for that other issue -- that The X-Factor were forced to pre-record the group numbers because the contestants were too busy getting ready for their Wednesday evening performance. Well, for Heaven's sake! Don’t include the group numbers if the cast can't handle them. And then have to go all Milli Vanilli on us. That's unconscionable.

So if they need to cheat in order to perform those dumb group segments why don't they cut them? They seem to embarrass everyone. In fact, I don't know who they appear to embarrass more, the viewers or the contestants. These tiresome group vignettes are certainly not worth compromising the show's integrity.

I expected more of Simon Cowell.

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