The grim video footage is here.
Like Al says, part of the appeal of SNL is that, in the Eastern Time Zone at least, it really is live and things can and do go wrong. Take Ashleee Simpson’s second song Saturday night.
NBC’s SNL board has been burning up since the snafu with every manner of opinion on what “really” happened, but here is my take:
I saw the first song and she did sing it live. You can hear breathing and volume variability as a real person moves around and the mike varies in position relative to her mouth, and the musicality of the vocals vary throughout the performance also – ie, she hit some notes better than others. So this isn’t really much about lipsyncing. As the mistake revealed, there WAS a recorded lead vocal track at low volume, but she sang a live lead OVER that, which is kind of cheating but not terribly so.
Clearly for the second song the sound engineer screwed up and played the backing track to the song she had already performed. The band started playing along, she just didn’t know what to do, because SHE HAD ALREADY DONE THIS SONG. She sort of danced around, tried to say/sing something, then gave up and walked off camera.
The sin wasn’t that THE GREAT INDESCRETION OF LIPSYNCING ON SNL WAS REVEALED. All that was revealed was that she was using a support track to go along with the live band and live lead vocals. Her sin was that she didn’t just take control, stop the band, tell the sound engineer to turn off the backing track, and tell everyone to start over again on the correct song, which I assure you her sister, a seasoned performer, a professional, would have done. Ashlee let the system and technology control her rather than she taking control of it.
She could have been a hero, a legend, even if the sound had been ragged – the cardinal rule of showbiz is that the show must go on and she failed that tradition.
Beyond that nightmare, it was a pretty good show, Amy Poehler has settled into the co-anchor spot on the news, Seth Myers is a great Kerry (whom they wailed on mercilessly last night, good to see some balance) and Will Forte is a good Bush (the nose isn’t right, but he captures the synaptic misfirings), and Jude Law was fine if not particularly memorable.
It shall be remembered as the night Ashlee freaked and we were reminded that live is LIVE.
See Dawn Olsen’s review of the Ashlee Simpson CD here.
Check out the evisceration Ashlee is taking from fans on her own site - that’ll teach ‘em to allow unmediated comments.
The latest news including her Radio Music Awards performance here.