February 3, 2006
Tell us if you’re miming, UK union urges singers
By Paul Majendie
LONDON (Reuters) - After an infamous tiff between Elton
John and Madonna over lip-synching, Britain's Musicians' Union
has called on performers to come clean -- audiences should be
told if they are miming rather than singing.
The union is urging promoters, producers and artists to
back its campaign for lip-synching to be clearly labeled during
TV shows, in pop arenas and on stage.
"Stand up and be honest about it. We won't knock you for
using recordings," said union spokesman Keith Ames, wearied by
the sight of bands with miming singers backed by guitarists
going through the motions to a recorded track.
"If we are going to sell British music around the world, we
cannot go out without a genuine product. You cannot sell
artificiality to the Europeans and the Americans. They will see
through it immediately."
The union suggested that a lip-synching logo could be
flashed up on television or on posters and tickets for shows.
"This campaign is to reward performers who have the talent
to perform live and give it a human edge," Ames said. "In a
funny sort of way, people like the odd bum note. It gives them
a sense of the moment."
He stressed that the union was in no way opposed to the use
of technology, especially in smaller theatres where the
producers could not afford to pay for a full orchestra.
"This is about consumers knowing what they are buying
into," he said.
The issue hit the headlines when British pop veteran Elton
John took a swipe at Madonna, saying she cheated her fans by
miming on stage.
Collecting a song-writing award in 2004, he suddenly
launched into a tirade against Madonna when he discovered she
had been nominated for Best Live Act.
"Anyone who lip-synchs in public on stage when you pay 75
pounds to see them should be shot," John said. Madonna swiftly
denied lip-synching and pointedly said she did not spend her
time trashing other artists.
The union campaign was launched on BBC Television's "The
Culture Show" with a poll showing that 71 percent of those
questioned backed its stance.
The campaign has also won backing from singer Beverley
Knight who told the program: "What I can't bear more than
anything are those who are more than capable of delivering a
show live with musicians and the whole thing and who don't."
Malcolm McClaren, former manager of the Sex Pistols,
agreed, complaining "There isn't enough authenticity in the pop
industry. It is karaoke culture."
But Faye Tozer, a singer with the now disbanded pop group
Steps, defended lip-synching that helped them cope with a
punishing schedule. "We did it to get our product out," she