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Idols lip-sync during group numbers, production company admits after denying it

The production company behind American Idol has admitted that the contestants are lip-syncing during their group numbers following first-season runner-up Justin Guarini’s assertion–and a lot of on-screen evidence–that they were.

On TV Guide’s Idol Wrap last week, Justin said, “Every single year we can’t stand the group performances. I know they can’t stand it either. And I think what makes them even worse now is that they’re lip-synched. They’re really prerecorded now.”

Producers first denied that charge, as FremantleMedia North America spokesperson told The New York Times, “The Idols don’t lip-sync, period.” But today, he admitted it was true along with a lot of excuses: “Due to extensive choreography and to balance their voices with open mikes against a screaming audience, the Idols do sing along to their own prerecorded vocal track during the group performances only.”

As the Times points out, “a subtle assessment might depend on how one defines ‘lip-sync.'” The dictionary definition doesn’t hold up if the contestants are actually singing.

Of course, if we don’t actually hear that singing and instead hear the recording–and the way some of them put their mics down at the end of the song even as the singing continued would suggest that’s the case–that’s pretty much lip-syncing. The spokesperson told the paper that their individual performances are entirely live, and that makes sense considering frequently they suck.

Justin told the paper, “I know they are interested in making the best show possible and in caring for the contestants’ voices. It’s almost torture to watch the contestants sing and dance like they don’t have a care in the world when in fact they’re sweating bullets” about the elimination.

‘Idol’ Group Numbers: Not So Live After All [New York Times]

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.

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