So much for live' acts

Is it justifiable when celebrities lip-sync to pre-recorded songs, especially after their performance is promoted as live'?

Popular reality shows or award functions are usually promoted by highlighting a ‘live’ singing act by celeb performers — in most cases, even actors-turned-singers, to add that extra glitz to the telecast. But more often than not, such performances by well-known names are criticised as they not only use pre-recorded song tracks, but also make their ‘band’ of extremely talented musicians air-guitar on stage! Why have a band at all then?

Recently, one such performance by an actress-singer in a series finale, has come in for some serious lambasting on social media by singers and musicians from across the fraternity — while even the band accompanying her has been called out for agreeing to compromise on talent for a heavy payday — being in a place where many other aspiring drummers or guitarists covet.

Other music directors, who sing, have also been pointed out in the past for lip-syncing on stage during massive live acts — which begs the question, why call it a live performance then? And if it’s not enough that they embarrass themselves, the performers also prevent the accompanying musicians from displaying their talent on the big stage.

Playback vocalist Sunitha Sarathy, who is strongly against this trend, opines, “It is not nice — in fact, it is not ethical. You don’t see people like Nigella Lawson using a cake mix live on TV, nor do you see a contestant opting for a readymade ingredient on a show like MasterChef! But only in India, this happens — I guess, people here are starved for stars and they don’t really wish to see good talent. It is sad that this trend has crawled into the music industry.”

The singer, who has given memorable chartbusters over the years, continues, “I might, sometimes, give suggestions to my friends or my maid if they have headache or something — but that doesn’t make me a doctor. We have some fantastic artistes over here to create magic on stage. Hence I don’t understand why one should always resort to celebrities, pay them huge amounts and let them do what they do. Even the way they hold the mike makes it obvious that they’re only miming. I’m not commenting on anyone in particular — but just on the current practice. We are killing art by promoting things like this.”

On the other hand, actor/ music composer Vijay Antony takes a diplomatic stance and says, “I wouldn’t call lip-syncing at a concert as a disgrace to a musician. Certain singers sing live when they don’t have to ‘perform’ per se. These days, singers are also concentrating on performance — i.e dance or get the crowd moving. In such cases, you won’t be able to deliver the song perfectly. That is when people prefer a ‘plus’ track (which includes the vocals of the singer) so that they can focus on the act and the audiences also enjoy it.”

He adds, “Also, when you are addressing a huge crowd, it is imperative to hold the crowd’s attention. If you are in front of a smaller group of listeners, then you can use the minus track (only the background score).”

But singer Devan Ekambaram, who also shares a similar point of view as Sunitha’s, is clearly unhappy. “It is insulting to the music fraternity,” he fumes, and continues, “I don’t see the point when one comes and mimes on a live show — especially when they get an absurd amount of money. As we’ve grown up hearing stalwarts like K.J. Yesudas sir and Balamuralikrishna sir, it is painful when something like this is becoming prevalent here. If you remember, even when the famous American singer Mariah Carey lip-synced during her New Year concert in Times Square, she slipped up and it became a huge

Devan admits that this practice is justifiable only during certain unavoidable situations. “If someone is extremely ill or has a sore throat, then, it is okay, to a certain extent. At events like the Grammys, the organisers always record every singer’s pre-performance as a backup — and in case if the particular singer is not ready to sing during the main event, they use the backup.”

Karthick Iyer, a well-known violinist, shares one of his personal experiences — “Long back, I was also a part of a show, where the song was pre-recorded. I actually practiced and went for the event, but I didn’t know what happened — they told me that I had to just perform for an already recorded song. I was extremely uncomfortable.”

Continuing on this issue, he says, “When you perform live, the audience’s energy can resonate on your performance and even some imperfections add to the beauty of it — all these are lost during pre-recorded shows.”

Ramkumar Kanakarajan, a drummer, who admits that this trend is not good for musicians, adds though that film songs, which are overproduced, are impossible to be replicated live on stage. “I have never been part of something like this, but one has to understand that many songs are now meticulously produced and engineered — so it is not possible for a performer to reproduce the same on stage. If an original has some eight to nine tracks, you can’t bring every element of it, when it is live.”

(With inputs from Janani K)

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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