Monday 26 September 2011

School of Mime: Jennifer Lopez performs at Iheartmusic Festival. Live or play back?

Jennifer Lopez wheeled out her surprisingly memorable back catalogue- seriously, I forgot how many hits she has- for her set at the Iheartmusic festival. Now there is no question that Jennifer Lopez's set was anything but A-list and she looked stunning to boot, but many a person were asking about whether it was mimed or sung live.

Lets examine her first performance, which was of Get Right, to get a flavour of things. The dance moves weren't too heavy, or strenuous, so we could logically conclude that this was choreographed with the intention of allowing for Jennifer to sing live. You can clearly hear that there are volumes changes in the vocal, where at some points are voice isn't as pronounced as others- contrast when she goes lower in her range (3.16), to when she makes her exclamations to the crowd. 4.25 also leads me to think it was live as that section of chest notes is intermixed with a shout out to the crowd that maintains the same volume and texture as the chest notes. Finally, at 4.42 Jennifer seems to suffer from a slight breathlessness that would coincide nicely with the rather strenuous movements that had just come before it.

On the other hand at 3.26 Jennifer Lopez seems to act as if the sustained note is finished, yet the sound is still being produced for a few seconds extra, and the final note of the song looks pretty hammed up (4.41). Admittedly, I was erring on the side of the vocals being fully live by the end of second song Get Loud that when she triumphantly cried out "You didn't know I could do that?" I was inclined to agree with her.

However the rest of the songs were more pronounced in there use of playback and left me in little doubt that this was an expertly crafted pre-recorded vocal that left openings for Jennifer Lopez's live voice.

To say it was a 100% live would be untrue, but similarly to say it was totally lip-synced would be unfair. It falls somewhere in the middle, probably on the side of more live vocals than less. I do think enough was sung live to show that Jennifer Lopez does have vocal chops, and though they may not be the strongest, she's certainly works the "entertainer" angle hard and well enough to compensate for any playback used.

Get Right
, Lets Get Loud

Ain't It Funny (Remix), All I Have, I'm Real (Remix)

Pappi On the Floor

Jenny Form The Block (Look out for at 2.07 how the playback of "COME ON" can be heard but Jennifer actually shouts out "BRONX")


  1. I concur.

    It is getting harder and harder to tell what is live and what is not - the technology used now is really clever. I guess if the artists can fool 90% of people then they will be happy.

    On the other hand, I can totally appreciate how much rehearsal that set must have taken. Trying to remember which bits you're supposed to be miming and which you're supposed to be singing, along with all that choreography must be really hard!! In a way it's easier to just sing the whole thing!

  2. Although the one slight disagreement we have...I think it falls slightly more on mimed vocals than live ;o) but she sure kicks ass - probably the best dancer out of all the pop singers (other than Britney in her prime).

  3. I have to admit, It's really hard to tell .lol

  4. I love Jennifer but I think most of the performance is lip synched she does not even sound a little winded. You can hear Beyonce winded when she dances and performs so you know it is live.

  5. Karen V you left off some other top shelf singer/dancers: Ciara,Pink,Janet Jackson, & Paula Abdul.

  6. its obvious when someone mimes and i personally think she was miming most of her songs-people get really good with miming and its hard to tell but i think JLO was miming