It turns out that singing is optional on The X Factor, Fox's American Idol-like search for the nation's top vocal talent. After contestant Leroy Bell was caught lip syncing during a group performance on last week's live results show — his mouth was not moving and the microphone was nowhere near his face — viewers cried foul. An X Factor representative clarified: "For the group ensemble performance, the vocals are pre-recorded to allow acts to concentrate on their own live performances on Wednesdays." The X Factor claims that rival competitions also allow lip syncing during group performances, which typically don't have bearing on viewers' votes. Is this really kosher?
No. Make them sing: Viewers actually won't get a better show if contestants lip sync during group numbers, says James Hibberd at Entertainment Weekly. The possibility that someone would screw up or stand out carries far more "entertainment value" than an "artificially polished performance." If The X Factor is really about testing the limits of America's top new vocal talents, then lip syncing "feels like it's against the spirit of the contest."
"X Factor contestant caught lip syncing: Does it matter?"
Lip syncing isn't such a bad idea: The lip syncing makes sense — at least from a production standpoint, says Kelly West at Cinema Blend. Pre-recording vocals for the non-competitive group number lets contestants save their voices and energy for their competitive solo performances. Besides, "I've always taken the group performance to be more or less filler for the results show." The voting has already taken place, so where's the harm?
"More controversy for The X Factor, this time over lip syncing"
This scandal could really hurt the series: If the show is going to allow lip syncing — which it shouldn't as a "matter of principle" — for God's sake "don't get caught" doing it, says Jessica Sager at Popcrush. Viewers feel deceived. "This didn't end well for Milli Vanilli, and it can't possibly end well for the fledgling X Factor."
"Fox talks lip syncing controversy on X Factor"