Pop Culture

What I Watched Last Night: Lip Sync Battle

Y’all, Lip Sync Battle is my jam. A bunch of gorgeous and talented celebrities go out and have an absolute blast pretending to sing and putting on amazing performances, and it’s probably the most fun half hour on TV right now. 

Why It Works

  • Everyone on stage is having the time of their life. In a lot of competition shows, the contestants have to constantly stress about getting sent home without winning the big prize at the end, but nothing’s at stake here except bragging rights. (Well, and a completely absurd championship belt that I don’t think they actually get to take home; I’m pretty sure it’s the same belt in every episode.) That doesn’t mean they’re phoning in their performances, of course; every single one so far has been over-the-top fantastic. But you can tell that they’re doing it because they love it.
  • The match-ups so far have been between friends. Instead of picking random celebrities that have no chemistry, each episode has paired up people who have worked closely together and who love hanging out together (or at least put on a damn good show of it, but I don’t think that’s the case). While everyone still wants to win, they still cheer for each other and dance along in the background. Which leads us to the next reason the show works so well:
  • EPIC trash talk. Only good friends can get away with the kind of shittalking that goes down on this show, and I love it. Even LL Cool J gets in on it, because why should the host stay neutral when he could get in a sick burn instead? Hell, last night Anna Kendrick did an entire One Direction song just so she could tell John Krasinski that she was going to steal Emily Blunt from him. (He responded by whipping out some cups and pretending to play them a la Pitch Perfect.)
Gif from Lip Sync Battle of Anna Kendrick singing "She belongs to me" while wearing a picture of Emily Blunt and herself.
Yes, that’s a t-shirt of Anna and Emily in a heart. (Via Buzzfeed)
  • It’s on cable, not network TV. NBC passed on the show, thank god. While running the show on Spike probably cuts into the audience a bit, the more relaxed FCC rules mean they can get away with a lot more. I’m not sure how well some of the song choices (or banter about being “outside dick”) would have gone over in primetime, and I’m pretty sure network execs would have had palpitations if this had happened on their channel.
Gif from Lip Sync Battle of Anna Hathaway riding a wrecking ball and flipping off Emily Blunt
Anne Hathaway in skintight clothing, riding a wrecking ball, and flipping the bird? Definitely too hot for NBC. (Via Tumblr)
  • These people are fucking talented. Which shouldn’t be a surprise considering that a ridiculous number of the contestants so far have won or at least been nominated for the highest awards in their field, but damn. Sure, they’re not actually singing (which is almost a shame considering how well some of them sing), but whether they’re just belting at the microphone or doing the complete choreography of 90s videos, they all sell it 100%. Even the backup dancers are fantastic. Also, who knew Common could breakdance? I’m not surprised, but I’m glad we got to see it, especially with the amazing Lionel Richie hair.
Gif from Lip Sync Battle of Common breakdancing while dressed as Lionel Richie.
Holy crap. (Via Lip Sync Battle’s official Tumblr)

And while I could nitpick about a few things, I’m not going to. Sure, I wish they’d let Chrissy Teigen actually provide color commentary instead of just using her as little more than set decoration. Yeah, there’s probably some shit to unpack about why it’s fucking hilarious to see a former pro wrestler giggle along with “Tay-Tay” or to see John Krasinski in a fringed Tina Turner dress. Maybe some of the contestants really shouldn’t be rapping (John Legend wearing a grill was just disturbing). I don’t care. It seems like they’re all honoring the original performances, not mocking them, and sometimes it’s ok to turn off the outrage center of your brain for 30 minutes so you can just laugh your ass off.

Though, I do wish they’d stop making me enjoy songs that otherwise drive me up the wall. It’s not fair! I like being a curmudgeon about pop music.

Check out clips and full episodes on YouTube and Spike TV.

By [E] Hillary

Hillary is a giant nerd and former Mathlete. She once read large swaths of "Why Evolution is True" and a geology book aloud to her infant daughter, in the hopes of a) instilling a love of science in her from a very young age and b) boring her to sleep. After escaping the wilds of Waco, Texas and spending the next decade in NYC, she currently lives in upstate New York, where she misses being able to get decent pizza and Chinese takeout delivered to her house. She lost on Jeopardy.

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