Originally Posted by living sounds
Does anyone know to what degree MJ actually sang live and how much was lip syncing? Every live performance just sounds so perfect, even the ones where he isn't dancing (and could theoretically have sung live).
I'm no expert- but I've been picking up where my childhood Jackson obsession left off over the past few days, and it appears that outside of that motown tv special most stuff up until the nineties has live vocals- see the bad tour footage from Japan on youtube etc.
At the point where tapes were providing all the bvs- that's when it started sounding less interesting. He may have been singing SOMETHING live- but often not the lead vocal I guess
The whole of The '84 Victory tour with the Jacksons was live. Motown 25 Medley with the Jacksons was live, Billie Jean was sadly lip-synched.
The '87 leg of the Bad tour was 100% live but towards the end and in 1988 some parts were mimed including Thriller, most of Man In The Mirror before the ad-libs and Smooth Criminal. Smooth Criminal is really fair enough because that would a be a nightmare for anyone to sings whilst dancing.
The '88 Grammys MITM was lip-synched up until the ad-libs. That always drives me crazy for so many reasons. Firstly, when he sings live and nails it, he BEATS the studio versions and you only have to listen to the Grammy ad-libs to hear maybe his most impressive live vocal work-out ever. Also, performers perform differently when lip-synching, they just don't connect to the song in the same way. You can literally see MJ come ALIVE on the Grammys when his mis is turned on, he literally switches up a gear and gives everything. From observing him and other over the years I just don't believe that in a free-form i.e. non-choreographed performance, that you get the same passion and intensity when lip-synching. I don't blame Prince for sitting there looking bemused.
A Sammy Davis Tribute song in '87 (I think) was sung live. 'It's called 'You Were There'.
MJ lip synched the MTV Black or White and WYBT performances bar the poem at the end of WYBT. Such an absolute shame. Those performances could have been legendary had he sung live. Instead they're largely forgotten outside of the fan base. From this point on there wasn't a single award show performance with a full live vocal.
MJ sang Gong Too Soon live at Clinton's Inaguration. He was clearly and reportedly nervous, missed the high notes and fluffed the 'sun......flower' line. Such a shame. I don't understand why he seemed to come to doubt his own ability in these later years.
Althought the 1992 dangerous rehearsals show MJ singing everything live, when the tour started several things were mimed including Jam (fair enough), Thriller, WYBT, Heal The World (inexcusable) and most of Man In The Mirror.
Other award show performances and one-off from the point on were all mimed with the possible exception of 'Elizabeth I Love You' in 1998 which may have been partly live to a backing track but is hard to tell when he comes in.
The general rule for miming is 'If you doubt that it's live, it isn't live'. When something is live yopu can tell straight away without question.
MTV 1995 was mimed bar a few screams, speech before Dangerous and YANA ad libs. In his ad-libs, as on the HIStory tour and '99 WMCIG shows, he sounds better than the studio vocal he just mimed to and I wonder how and why he chose to do this in front of an audience of his peers. People rave about the performance in '95 and it's on the HIStory 2 DVD but to me it's utterly redundant bar it's significance as his first performance after the allegations and some cool steps during the medley.
HIStory was a horrendously lip-synched tour. Even the poor backing singers, despite visibly singing their hearts out, were actually doing so whilst MJ's own studio backing vocals pumped through the system.
Basically, the ENTIRE shows was lip-synched var Startin' Somethin', the J5 medley ad libs for Beat It, Billie Jean, YANA and a few other songs and the odd intro and scream here and there.
I personally can't understand this and would love to know MJ's own real private reasons. I'm sure there are many including saving his voice and perfectionism but then why as the one and only full live songs did he pick Startin' Somethin', the HARDEST songs to sing bar Criminal and struggle badly to sing it when compared to previous tours? Why not sing Stranger and YANA live? Or Earthsong? Or even better, just rotate the live songs each night depending on how he felt?
He actually came close to releasing a DVD of that tour. A LIVE DVD lol. Come on! Why not sing each song live for posterity at least once? I can't believe that this wasn't something that was important to him and never occcured to him. He has only sung ONE song live from Dangerous, HIStory, Blood and Invincible: Gone To Soon at the Clinton gala. To me that's one of the saddest things: the missed opportunities. The greatest live performer of all time doesn't even have and can never have a great live album spanning his career.
If you want to show a non-fan or casual fan why MJ is so great live, you have to resort to a bootlegged copy of a Bad show. How sad is that? I'd never show anyone the HIStory show and the 'official' Bucharest Dangerous show ranks about 20 out of those pro-shot shows available.
MJ has never been taken very seriously among many serious music critics and musicians. Had he done something like an MTV unplugged and really sung a lot of his stuff live with a REAL band as a bandleader he could have earned that respect. It's one of the sadest things to me that he missed so many opportunities like this.