It was the greatest television performance that I or most of my contemporaries have ever seen. But — and I repeat the word “but” — I knew as soon as Michael Jackson finished his medley of hits with his brothers on the legendary “Motown 25” show, and the booming beats of “Billie Jean” pulsated out of the speakers, that Michael Jackson was lip-syncing the smash hit single. In fact, MJ and the rest of the Jackson 5 had lip-synced their entire 15-minute performance. And no one cared. It remains unforgettable as the apex of King of Pop’s career where he unveiled the iconic move, the Moonwalk, that sealed his legendary status forever.
So what is the big deal about Beyoncé lip-syncing the national anthem at the inauguration for President Obama?
The fact remains that many of the greatest artists of all time have not sung during their most iconic spectacles, and did so on the biggest stages in the world. Oftentimes there are legitimate reasons for that, as the producer of the Super Bowl once noted:
“There’s too many variables to go live,” Rickey Minor told ABC News as an explanation of not taking any chances of anything going wrong. “I would never recommend any artist go live because the slightest glitch would devastate the performance.”
So, you see, this kind of thing happens on a regular basis. Now we can all calm down.
Here, then, are the greatest lip-sync performances by some of the greatest artists of all time: