Ever since Milli Vanilli's fake singing disgrace in the late '80s and Janet Jackson's "nipplegate" in 2004, it seems as if some are desperately trying to dig up scandals involving phony performances and the Super Bowl. But, as the Red Hot Chili Peppers' bassist Flea revealed in an open letter yesterday, there's really no scandal to be had. Performing to pre-recorded tracks is a long-standing policy of the NFL, as well as other organizations that stage live televised events.
So yes, that means that Bruno Mars also used backing tracks to accompanying his live vocals. As Flea explained in his letter: "I understand the NFL's stance on this, given they only have a few minutes to set up the stage, there a zillion things that could go wrong and ruin the sound for the folks watching in the stadium and the TV viewers. There was not any room for argument on this, the NFL does not want to risk their show being botched by bad sound, period."
And this isn't a new phenomenon. Back in 2009, Jennifer Hudson, Faith Hill, and even Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band used backing tracks during their Super Bowl performances. At the time, Super Bowl producer and Grammy Awards audio supervisor Hank Neuberger told the Chicago Tribune that was standard operating procedure.
"The Super Bowl performances are all on tape," Neuberger explained. "There is no way you can set up a full band in five minutes with microphones, get all the settings right, and expect to get quality sound. The Super Bowl has been doing that for years with virtually all the bands."
"It's not fraudulent, it's the opposite of fraud — it's not like Milli Vanilli," Neuberger continued. "There were too many variables keeping the instruments in tune while playing outside in cold weather," he added. "You can't control the environment, so the smart decision is to record the performance and play along with it... It's too big of an event to risk something going wrong. Television and music are not always a happy marriage."
Our calls to the NFL and Neuberger for comment weren't immediately returned.
If you may recall, there was a similar controversy surrounding classical musicians Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman in 2009, when they performed in the outdoors in the frigid cold at President Obama's first inauguration back in 2009.
At that time, Carole Florman, a spokeswoman for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, explained to The New York Times, "Truly, weather just made it impossible. No one's trying to fool anybody. This isn’t a matter of Milli Vanilli."
So scandal hounds be damned, Mars, the Chili Peppers, the Boss and even Yo-Yo Ma can certainly bring it live under the right circumstances; however, not on live TV at the Super Bowl or an outdoor inauguration event.
- American Football
- Sports & Recreation
- Milli Vanilli
- Bruno Mars
- Super Bowl