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News Flash! Teenage pop singer not really singing

In the words of another Simpson: "D'OH!"

By Michael Summers

Fort Wayne Reader

2004-10-25


Singer Ashlee Simpson's extra vocal help was revealed during a performance on "Saturday Night Live.”

For her second song on the show, Simpson had planned to perform new single “Autobiography.” Instead, the backing tape started playing “Pieces of Me,” the song Simpson had performed earlier. Furthermore, the first lines of her singing "Pieces of Me" could be heard again, though Simpson was holding the microphone at her waist.

Simpson’s record company said the embarrassing mistake was the result of a computer glitch. Simpson, the consummate professional, blamed the band.

She looked confused as the band went ahead with the song and the vocal was cut. Then, she made some clownish “hoedown” dance moves before slinking off stage. NBC quickly cut to a commercial.

A guide vocal is one of the dirty secrets of the music industry. It’s basically a tape of the vocal of the song, that the singer either lip syncs to, or songs along with, to make the voice sound fuller than it is.

Simpson's gaffe is being compared to a notorious incident with the group Milli Vanilli, who were performing at a televised awards show when the tape they were lip-syncing to started skipping. It has also joined a list of controversial SNL musical moments, such as Elvis Costello abruptly stopping a second half a verse in and playing something else, and Sinead O’Connor tearing up a picture of the Pope in 1991.

Of course, Costello and O’ Connor were actually singing…

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