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Read my lips
January 23, 2010 8:06 PM   Subscribe

As is well known by now, the opening spectacle of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing featured a young girl's performance of Ode to the Motherland which was later revealed to be a lip-synch. The talented original singer Yang Peiyi was considered not "cute" enough. As is perhaps not so well known, however, the resultant flap resulted in the creation of a strict anti-lip-synch law in China, and now two Chinese pop stars face a $12,000 lip-synching fine. Some Chinese rockers have eagerly supported the creation of the ban on lip-synch, and, interestingly, the practice of lip-synching in Chinese musical entertainment had been under discussion in Chinese government circles since at least 2005.
posted by flapjax at midnite (40 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
"the resultant flap resulted..." Arrgh.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:07 PM on January 23, 2010


I live in a free society where the listener gets to choose whether or not to delude themselves with Boney M. or Milli Vanilli. There is something inherently wrong where a society has to enact laws that curtail con artists. After all, it is an art and should be appreciated as such.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:12 PM on January 23, 2010


wait, is this joke warfare? not cute enough for what? not cute enough to cause semtex to spontaneously detonate without caps? not cute enough to make healthy people suffer diabetic coma? sorry, I didn't see the last olympics, but goddamn, that girl must have been nucular cute, that's all I'm sayin. good thing we can only see her through the protective prism of a television screen. did they hand out safety goggles at the ceremony or what?
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:12 PM on January 23, 2010


New government-issued mandatory lip implants on all Chinese babies will now detect lip-synching and deliver a powerful electric shock to the violator. Inside sources say the next version now in development will also force the lips of all Chinese citizens to mouth patriotic words at proscribed times.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 8:15 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's something scary about the power implications of all this. The state wins the Olympics. The state organizes the opening and closing ceremonies, and no doubt has full control over all aspects. So they chose the singer, and someone working for the state chose to get a lip-syncher. Then when the curtain is revealed, the state makes its own activities illegal.

People working high up in the Chinese entertainment industries must feel like puppets on strings, being blown by many winds.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 8:23 PM on January 23, 2010


flapjax at midnite: "the resultant flap resulted..." Arrgh

I'm pretty sure that's kosher, flapjax. The immediate result (the flap) had its own result (the law). Pass go and collect $200.
posted by Decimask at 8:25 PM on January 23, 2010


Marni Nixon is sad.
posted by ardgedee at 8:32 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


One of the greatest failings of the Bush administration, right after Katrina and before Iraq, was the failure to institute tough anti lip-synching laws after the 2004 Ashlee Simpson incident.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:58 PM on January 23, 2010 [16 favorites]


So yeah, first thing I did was watch the Yang Peiyi video and I'm thinking, "WTF, she looks cute to me! What the hell must this other girl have looked like!?" Then I watched the other girl... and hot damn, if I was the producer I would've done the same thing.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 9:34 PM on January 23, 2010


I live in a free society where the listener gets to choose whether or not to delude themselves with Boney M. or Milli Vanilli. There is something inherently wrong where a society has to enact laws that curtail con artists.

hmmm ... sounds like you might have something to hide
posted by philip-random at 9:36 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


So I'm guessing its easier to enact lip-syncing laws than it is to enact laws protecting workers in China...awesome.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:23 PM on January 23, 2010


Music’s 15 Most Notorious Fakers & Lip-Synchers.
posted by philip-random at 10:26 PM on January 23, 2010


furiousxgeorge, a lip-synching ban would have made it more difficult for Cheney to run things.
posted by dhartung at 10:37 PM on January 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


I live in a free society where the listener gets to choose whether or not to delude themselves with Boney M. or Milli Vanilli.

AFAIK, if you're seeing any performance in which failure would be expensive, you're not seeing a live vocal performance.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:50 PM on January 23, 2010


"the resultant flap resulted..." Arrgh.

..... at Midnigjht!?!?!?!?
posted by mannequito at 10:55 PM on January 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


So yeah, first thing I did was watch the Yang Peiyi video and I'm thinking, "WTF, she looks cute to me! What the hell must this other girl have looked like!?" Then I watched the other girl... and hot damn, if I was the producer I would've done the same thing.

You are the crazy world of Arthur Brown.
posted by clarknova at 11:05 PM on January 23, 2010


If the law required that synching sensations admit to ticket buyers that they are paying to see synching where they might reasonably expect to be watching live singing, it'd be a cool law. But I fear the law might be something more in China. A little chin music for the lip synchers.
posted by pracowity at 11:38 PM on January 23, 2010


That "cute" kid who did the lip-sync is now featured in a commercial on Hong Kong TV, for fabric softener or some such.

Of little Yang Peiyi, not a peep.

That just isn't right.
posted by bwg at 11:58 PM on January 23, 2010


Touring with Susan Boyle?
posted by pracowity at 12:08 AM on January 24, 2010


'ensuing flap'
posted by pompomtom at 12:39 AM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


More than a billion people, and they can't come up with a girl that is cute and can sing?
posted by sour cream at 1:12 AM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't care if they sat there motionless and stuck an mp3 on the laptop if the overwhelming majority of Chinese bands weren't derivative rubbish.
/hyperbole
posted by Abiezer at 2:28 AM on January 24, 2010


I guess MF DOOM will have to call off his Chinese tour. The Chinese government makes "villain style" look pretty tame.
posted by e.e. coli at 3:57 AM on January 24, 2010


if the overwhelming majority of Chinese bands weren't derivative rubbish

That's a big if, mister.

/first world snicker
posted by Wolof at 5:24 AM on January 24, 2010


I have also done my share of derivative rubbish, (which I have mainly been paid for, more or less the object of the exercise), but ye Chinese pop is, ah, well ...
posted by Wolof at 5:49 AM on January 24, 2010


It's bizarre to me that the Chinese government would bother with this fairly harmless bit of deception while other, gravely serious fraud is going on (e.g. melamine showing up in food products, etc.).
posted by sriracha at 7:47 AM on January 24, 2010


I'm OK with lip syncing. I want a law against using Autotune.
posted by rocket88 at 8:07 AM on January 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


while other, gravely serious fraud is going on
Well, in fairness they did execute two people for that; don't think any SuperGirls are going to get the death penalty, more's the pity um, thank goodness.
posted by Abiezer at 8:09 AM on January 24, 2010


I think Yang Peiyi is every bit as cute as her little stand-in.

There are circumstances in which lip synching is almost necessary. For instance, as when the live performance combines the song with a strenuous dance routine. I remember seeing Janet Jackson do a number at some award show about 20 years ago and how at some point she stopped lip synching and her face set into a fixed smile. She wasn't going with canned music because she can't sing. It's damn hard to sing and dance at the same time.
posted by orange swan at 8:20 AM on January 24, 2010


Oh, and the Chinese anthem is a beautiful piece of music.
posted by orange swan at 8:23 AM on January 24, 2010


...now two Chinese pop stars face a $12,000 lip-synching fine

Yeah, but what kind of fine do little girls face?
posted by sour cream at 8:57 AM on January 24, 2010


Lip-syncing is also necessary when doing a live performance of a song that involved a lot of studio processing such as layering.
posted by localroger at 9:02 AM on January 24, 2010


Music’s 15 Most Notorious Fakers & Lip-Synchers.

I came across the reverse of this phenomenon recently. It turns out that Muse really don't like miming to their own songs, so if they're forced to do it (by, say, the producer of a TV show on which they're performing) then they make it very, very obvious that this is what's going on. The result? This.
posted by ZsigE at 9:02 AM on January 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I came across the reverse of this phenomenon recently.

Another subversion of a lip-synched performance is Johnny Rotten's refusal to lip-synch on an American Bandstand performance of Public Image Limited's Poptones.
posted by jonp72 at 9:59 AM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've seen that Lydon bit from American Bandstand before. It's a great bit of agitprop. What really strikes me about it now is that the bit is eleven minutes long. There was a silly pop show that had a single performance that went on for eleven minutes without a commercial or an MC jabbering. Seems like an impossibly long segment these days.
posted by Babblesort at 11:05 AM on January 24, 2010


I came across the reverse of this phenomenon recently.

And if you take a look at the last of those 15 Most Notorious fakers, you'll see Nirvana making a deliberate and beautiful mess of Smells Like Teen Spirit on Top Of The Pops.
posted by philip-random at 11:12 AM on January 24, 2010


It's bizarre to me that the Chinese government would bother with this fairly harmless bit of deception while other, gravely serious fraud is going on (e.g. melamine showing up in food products, etc.).

You seem to be implying that the government bothered with lip-synching while ignoring the introduction of melamine in food. That is not the case.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:51 AM on January 24, 2010


Note re that Muse clip, it's even more obvious to fans of the band as they've all swapped instruments!
posted by thedaniel at 12:30 PM on January 24, 2010


This is interesting, since the Chinese are destined to take over the world. I say we petition them for a ban on auto-tune now, and we'll reap the benefits later.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 4:53 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


New Order refused to lip sync Blue Monday on Top of the Pops, which didn't turn out so well. I think their record sales actually decreased as a result.
posted by Kris10_b at 6:12 PM on January 24, 2010


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