Last night’s Saturday Night Live featured musical guest Ashlee Simpson, sister of the slightly-more-famous Jessica Simpson. They can be distinguished by their polar opposite artificial hair colors (Jessica blond, Ashlee black), and, as witnessed by millions of viewers on Saturday Night Live, by their apparent difference in talent.
MTV’s Newlyweds program, chronicling the lives of Jessica Simpson and her husband, Nick Lachey, has poked fun at Jessica’s less-than-stellar intellectual capabilities, although much could probably be credited to creative editing. Among other things, Jessica is famous for her befuddlement over “Chicken of the Seas” (is it chicken? Or tuna?), but she clearly has an excellent singing voice.
What about her little sister? Ashlee recently moved into the limelight with her own hits, including Pieces of Me, and.. Well, really, just Pieces of Me. It’s currently at #51 on the iTunes Daily Top Songs List, right after Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy) by Big & Rich, which I’m sure is also a lovely song.
So, Ashlee was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live, and musical guests normally perform two live songs during the 90-minute show.
The first song she performed was — wait for it — Pieces of Me. For the second song, she was once again introduced, and oddly enough, her vocals from Pieces of Me started playing once again. Only this time, Ashlee’s lips weren’t moving.
She kind of fumbled around stage for a few seconds, awkwardly bouncing around, as the band members looked at each other in confusion and then decided, what the hey? And started playing the instrumentals for Pieces of Me, sharing embarassed, timid smiles with each other. Ashlee wandered off the stage and out of view. After a dozen seconds or so, Saturday Night Live cut to a commercial.
Could Ashlee have been lip synching? On Saturday Night Live? This was almost as awkward to watch as Sinead O’Connor unexpectedly ripping up a picture of the pontiff at the end of her song on Saturday Night Live in 1992, an event that magically disappeared in re-runs of that episode of Saturday Night Live.
I reviewed Ashlee’s first song (TiVo is great for that sort of thing), and sure enough, she appears to be lip synching, and not very well. Someone obviously queued up the wrong vocal track for the second song.
Here’s what annoys me about this. There are too many singers today that lip synch in public performances. (This is a minor annoyance. There are much bigger things that annoy me, such as the destruction of the environment and Daylight Savings Time.) At the top of this lip synching list is Britney Spears. Some of these performers have argued that, like, the sophisticated dance moves they must perform during a concert, like, makes it impossible to sing at the same time. You know?
That argument carries some water, but it didn’t carry any water for Ashlee; during her first performance, she wasn’t dancing. She was mostly just standing there, concentrating on her lip synching. Occasionally she would walk forward and then back, in a manner similar to Alanis Morissette, only Alanis is a tremendous vocalist and probably wouldn’t think of lip synching, except in a music video.
So why was Ashlee lip synching? Is that even her voice on the actual song? Or does it take significant post-production to make her voice sound good?
At the end of the show, when all of the performers go on stage to say “goodnight,” Ashlee apologized, saying “my band started to play the wrong song.” Er, no. They were just as surprised as she was when her vocal track started playing. And for her to blame the problem on her band was a cheap shot. They at least adapted and started playing; they didn’t storm off the stage. And they are actually playing their instruments, live.
This definitely classifies as one of Saturday Night Live’s five most awkard moments of all time. And it probably won’t show up in re-runs of last night’s performance; they’ll splice in her second song from the show’s dress rehearsal.