Artists are deceiving audiences in concert with pre-recorded audio

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At this year’s Super Bowl, Maroon 5 headlined the halftime show, but lead singer Adam Levine was met with backlash for his heavy reliance on backing tracks and the appearance that he was lip syncing.

Though Levine stated he was singing live, his singing was overshadowed by background audio, and some instruments during the show were reported to be “fake,” as if they weren’t actually being played. In other music performances, including the People’s Choice Awards and the MTV Music Awards, people buy tickets to see their favorite artists perform. After paying upwards of $2,500, you would expect to see the artists giving actual live performances instead of completely or mostly pre-recorded ones.

“If I pay for a live performance, I want a live performance,” senior Benjamine Cordova said. “I would be disappointed if I bought a ticket to see my favorite artist, and they were using pre-recorded audio.”

Producers defend the extensive use of technology because the setting of certain shows limits the capability to perform live songs. However, the fact that none of the singers are actually performing ruins the point of having musicians in the first place. If audiences are willing to plan, travel, wait in long lines and even pay to see these artists, they shouldn’t be subjected to watching their favorite singers fake their performances. After all, those who have experienced live music would agree that having musicians and singers showcase their talent in real time is preferable to a showcase of today’s technology.

“For big performances, it might be useful to use pre recorded material, but not to such a large scale that the performance isn’t live anymore,” Cordova said.

The use of pre-recordings is popular and supported among many of today’s singers, but failures are inevitable, as technology isn’t perfect. One well-known failure was Mariah Carey at Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve in 2017, in which a malfunction revealed her to be lip syncing her entire concert. Carey’s failure to sing discredited her talent, something that would have been avoided had she used her own voice.

“Live music is an experience. Going and seeing an artist perform live is much more exciting than listening to their pre-recorded songs,” sophomore Shyann Rudisill said. “So it doesn’t make sense to use pre-recordings and take away from that feeling.”

Many singers have been applauded for their refusal to use technology more than necessary, including Adele, Lady Gaga and Alicia Keys. Singers like them understand that they have become famous because of the quality of their unaided voices and continue to showcase that same talent. In Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s performance of “Shallow” at the Oscars, the singers were accompanied by just a piano, and the only piece of technology was their microphones. The passionate performance was received with a standing ovation and praised for its stripped-down approach to the song. If more performances highlighted the voices of the singers, audiences would be much more satisfied with the quality of these live performances.

“I don’t think artists have to work as hard because they’ve decided to pre-record their performances,” Rudisill said. “And it’s not fair because there are plenty of artists out there who have genuinely amazing voices without the use of technology.”

In pursuit of a perfect performance, music artists today are using pre-recordings for their live performances, taking away from the purpose of live music as a way to experience an artist’s raw talent. Despite bending over backwards to see their favorite singers, audiences are disappointed, wasting their time, money and effort.

“I think [pre recorded audio] takes away from the experience and belittles people with actual live performance talent,” Rudisill said. “If you aren’t able to perform live without a backing track, should you be celebrated enough to get the chance to perform live at all?”