And once again, The X Factor is making headlines for controversy. This time, the Fox series is in hot water over lip-syncing. During last night’s group performance, one of the competing contestants could be heard singing before his mouth started moving, which suggests he (and presumably everyone else) was lip-syncing.
Deadline posted the story, stating that their (unnamed) source says the contestants are actually singing to a track, which is apparently different than lip-syncing. Watch the video below and look closely at around the :25 second mark. Contestant Leroy Bell’s mouth is barely moving when the words “I will” can be heard...
As Deadline posted, The X Factor released a statement:
All survival songs are performed live, with just a backing track. For the group ensemble performance, the vocals are pre-recorded to allow acts to concentrate on preparing for their own live competition performances on Wednesdays. This is also no different to what other competition shows do for ensemble performances.
That does sort of make sense, but as EW’s James Hibberd notes, “One suspects part of the actual motivation is to make The X Factor crop sound more professional and star-worthy than they really are. Since X Factor is a show that’s all about putting new talent to the test, lip syncing some songs feels like it’s against the spirit of the contest, if not breaking any actual rules.”
Hibberd makes a good point there. I’ve always taken the group performance to be more or less filler for the results show, and not really a part of the competition, as voting for the week has already taken place. The issue with this is that despite The X Factor being new to the U.S., the series carries with it the shadow of controversy from the original British series, which made headlines last year when it was discovered that auto-tuning may have been used during the broadcast.
Is it a big deal that the contestants are lip-syncing during the performance portion of the results show? I can see Hibberd’s argument in that it’s not in the spirit of the series, and I can understand it if people were to argue that it compromises the integrity of the competition. It also makes sense that, in terms of production, pre-recording the group number gives the contestants more time to focus on their own performance for the competition. In the end, I’ve always found polished pre-recorded lip-syncing acts to be much less interesting to watch than something done live, even if it contains imperfections.
Other bits of controversy surrounding The X Factor this season include Stacy Francis' back-story, which may have been embellished, and former contestant Dexter Haygood's claim that it was his choice to leave the show. The judges addressed some of this recently.