When live music isn't live

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Carlo Medina, Mar 4, 2002.

  1. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Just saw a KCAL 9 report the other day on stars who don't sing their concerts live, or who prerecord the majority of it.
    They targeted quite a few of the mega acts today: JLo, N'Sync, Britney, etc. They had a recording engineer (who used to work for Prince) show how they could make a singer's voice in the studio sound like it was live (echo, reverb, etc.). BTW, he said Prince sang and played every note in concert live, so don't worry.
    And the industry engineers who were interviewed refused to give anyone up specifically, but said "if there's a lot of dancing involved and you don't hear heavy breathing, it ain't live." I've always wondered how the Boy Bands do their dance whilst singing perfectly. I can't even play my guitar and sing well!
    When contacted, reps from Britney and the Boy Bands said "No Comment."
    And the shocker?
    Riverdance is prerecorded. However the producers said it's because it is nearly impossible to capture the sound of their feet live and have it sound good in the hall, so it's all prerecorded and the dancers just dance in time. Whodathunkit?
     
  2. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Agreed, Buzz. I was a huge Queen fan, and even they had prerecorded the middle section of Bohemian Rhapsody in concert.

    But I didn't mind that because there wasn't the pretense that it was live. everyone knew that part was from the album.

    It's these acts (JLo, Britney, Boy Bands, etc.) who PRETEND that they are dancing and singing when in fact they are only dancing and lipsynching (N'Lip Sync they should call themselves) that chaps my hide.
     
  3. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

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    I always assumed that the song-and-dance acts like Spears, Backstreet Boys and others did a combination of lip-synching and live singing at concerts. They seem to sing just enough that it sounds live, but 99% of the time it seems like their synching. Nothing wrong with that, IMO, as long as they're up front about it. It's not like the audience cares much anyway, I think, the show as a whole, especially the dancing, is more important, I think.

    /Mike
     
  4. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    It does get complicated-- and some acts that claim to do their own signing do have live mics on during the performance- but the tape track is doing most of the work.

    A prime example- I have worked with tons of "track acts" who travel only with a tape and no band. I can do sound check and look at the levels I'm getting from the vocal mic when I'm working it-- and then compare that to the levels I get when the "artist" is on stage. Usually it's 1/10 the level I had- and if I check the tape in headphones, the majority of the vocal is on the track.

    Some have discussed passing laws in relation to truthful disclosure of lip syncing- but as many engineers have pointed out- as long as the mic is live- they would be legally allowed to claim they were signing.

    Silly industry- that's what you get for putting image above all else.

    -Vince
     
  5. Matt Stryker

    Matt Stryker Screenwriter

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    Almost all of the National Anthem singings since the Roseanne Barr incident have been pre-recorded; I recently saw Ellis Paul in concert, and he talked about how after he pre-recorded the anthem for a Boston game, he had a few beers and then stood on the mound trying to lip-sync.

    I don't pay money to see people lip-sync and dance; whats the point? A real "live" show will give a great sense of connection between the artist and the crowd, and there is nothing better than that.
     
  6. Alex Shk

    Alex Shk Stunt Coordinator

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    I have nothing against a portion of the instrumental track being pre-recorded - hell The Who have done that since 1971 on Baba O' Riley and Won't Get Fooled again. I am dissapointed that singers don't sing, but as mentioned before, I think todays audience just wants a 3D music video anyway.

    The real reason I despise pre-recorded vocal tracks (as well as dance routines and over the top pyrotechnics), is that they have a tendancy to make the program "fixed". There is very little (or no) room for muscians to modify a setlist, extend a solo, or create a "medley" on stage if every second of the show is pre-plaaned. Maybe that's why I tend to gravitate towards acts that do a minimal of such things in concert, guys like Pearl Jam or Springsteen or (you fill in the blank) where you never know exactly what songs your going to hear on tonights show - even if you attended last nights.
     
  7. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    There are always a lot of pre-programmed and "fixed" elements in rock concerts. For example, the lights. They pop up just when the band gets to the bridge. Some groups have video accompaniment. Everything is timed perfectly. That also doesn't allow for the band to mix things up and be free.

    The only way to be assured of seeing musicians really play is at a jazz concert.
     
  8. StevenW

    StevenW Second Unit

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  9. KrisM

    KrisM Second Unit

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    I don't think you have to have things mixed-up to experience good music. Take classical for example.

     
  10. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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  11. Alex Shk

    Alex Shk Stunt Coordinator

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  12. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Mike,

    The extremity of the allegations are what bothered me. I have no problems with the use of some prerecorded material. Take the Bohemian Rhapsody example. Or a solo artist that I watch on some Friday nights, Jon Brion, who records each instrument and loops it one at a time, and ends up making a whole band sound just by himself looping tracks. Yes it's all him, but it's still "recorded" in a sense.

    But the pretense that you're seeing Britney sing and dance is just that: pretense. You're actually just watching her dance. And I don't think the audience believes that's what they're seeing. despite the questionable nature of her (and the boy bands') music, I think if you ask some concertgoer if they are singing live, they will most likely say yes. And the fact that they are not is a misrepresentation.
     
  13. Alex Shk

    Alex Shk Stunt Coordinator

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    Carlo: Just to re-enforce your point: When Queen offered up the pre-recorded middle section of Bohemian, there was no pretense. The band left the stage when the pre-recorded portion started; they didn't stand there and try to mimic to a tape (of course they returned for the explosive finale). It isn't a matter of using pre-recorded material during a concert - it's just that pretending you aren't, by lip synching or playing air-guitar is just.... cheap.
     
  14. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    Plus, with Queen you ARE getting some amazing singing/playing around that bit of "show", so who cares.

    The problem with pre-recorded music is when it REPLACES live music rather than supplement it.

    And despite what an audio engineer might say, you can almost always tell live from synch'd.

    And Prince, definately live and amazing. As for changing sets, cripes go see Phish or Pearl Jam to see a show pull it off (following the Dead standard obviously).

    But then again 2 of the greatest shows I ever saw were Kiss on their "back in makeup" tour and Alice Cooper. Totally pre-set and highly coordinated, but you know what, when you put that much work into it and still play/sing I can stand the same "set" everynight. Not really different than seeing a great Broadway show. It will be the same, yet not quite the same, every night.

    But stuff like that Britny show in Vegas...worthless. That sort of routine is dull as hell to me because other artists have similar routines AND actually perform too.

    Hey, you knew Freddie was coming out in the cape at the end with God Save the Queen, right? Still didn't make it awesome.

    For laughs, my favorite live album - Bob Marley Live! Incredible emotion and power.
     
  15. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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  16. Tim Campbell

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  17. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Of course, I was generalising.
     
  18. Nigel McN

    Nigel McN Supporting Actor

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    I have a fairly basic rule, if it sounds like the CD, then it probably is.
     
  19. Ryan L B

    Ryan L B Supporting Actor

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    I just saw the most obvious scene of Lip syncing I have ever seen, it was the Brittney Spears las vegas concert on hbo that they just replayed. About 80 to 90% of it was fake singing. When there was real singing it was all off pitch and I think it was only 2 or 3 songs that contained real singing.
     
  20. Nate Public

    Nate Public Extra

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    Howdy,
    I just want to add that, while pop singers that lip-sync are not my personal favorite, there are legions of 7-67 year old kids who don't mind. While I think there is something uncomfortable about the machine-like productions of N'Sync, JLo, Britney - and that lip sync on stage is a cop-out and a fraud, I doubt the majority of fans would mind a whole lot what I think about the technical details of their favorite bands.
    What I'm leading at is not that HTF is elitest or anything, just that so long as there is a demographic to market to, mainstream music is not going to be done for the music. (Heck, Riverdance is arguably a purely commercial product as well.)
    Britney is not looking for credibility in her performance...she's looking for exposure and money. (Jokes about her strip act not withstanding!)
    Gene Simmons of Kiss (an early boy-band) said this in a article with "The Onion."
    "O: Have you always played a major role in how Kiss is merchandised?
    GS: ...I don't want credibility. That means nothing. Remember, none of these guys learned how to play their instruments properly. They all did it by ear, the lazy man's out. So a big word like "credibility" coming out of a guy who's unqualified to say anything other than "Do you want fries with that?" is delusional. I've never deluded myself about what this is. Kiss appears in comic books and puzzles and condoms and anything else we damn well please. I'm happy that the rest of the bands are afraid of merchandising themselves. They should all be afraid of it, and leave it to Kiss to do everything."
    Anyhoo. Write your congressman, but I doubt that any of us can come up with the $$$ to make artists stop lip syncing.
    What we should be concerned about is if we pay $70 to send lil' Susie to see Britney, and she gets a show filled with bad DAT tracks, off-pitch singing, and so-on. I mean, if it is gonna be fake...there isn't much excuse is there??? [​IMG]
    Peace,
    Nate
     

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