Lip sync battles are nothing new to television (Ru Paul has been telling his show’s drag queens to “Lip Sync for Your Life” since 2009), but Jimmy Fallon brought them into the mainstream when he started challenging celebrities to lip sync battles on his Late Night. Battles with Emma Stone, John Krasinski, and Paul Rudd all went viral.
What started as a late night segment is now a full-fledged series on basic cable’s Spike, creatively called Lip Sync Battle and hosted by LL Cool J. Some of the most notable imagery so far has been Anne Hathaway’s re-creation of Miley Cyrus’ iconic video for “Wrecking Ball,” (including licking a sledgehammer) but Dwayne Johnson’s “Shake It Off” can’t be ignored.
Does Lip Sync Battle stand up as good television? There’s certainly something to be enjoyed in hearing your favorite pop and classic rock songs and seeing your favorite celebrities have fun. But isn’t it all a little self-indulgent? We all enjoy lip-syncing to ourselves in the bathroom mirror, but watching stars do it might get a little old. Giving them more external validation for what’s really a non-talent doesn’t seem worth it for a show that can’t fill its full half-hour with entertainment.
All in all, LSB just a little silly. The banter, Chrissy Teigen’s color commentary, and the performances themselves are all campy, but not in a fun way: in an outdated VH1-circa-2006 way.
The show’s two million viewers, an incredible number for Spike, tell another story: Lip Sync Battle is, at least for the time being, event television. Your guess is as good as mine as to how long that lasts. In the meantime, enjoy Emily Blunt and Anne Hathaway battle with “Piece of My Heart” and “Wrecking Ball,” respectively: