Historically, getting caught singing over a glitching backup track or poorly mouthing along to a hit-song on stage has been derided as a betrayal of our collective artistic ideals. In fact, lip-syncing has ended careers and lives. In 1998, Rob Pilatus of Milli Vanilli was found dead of an accidental overdose in his hotel room. The tragedy came shortly after it was discovered the duo had lip-synced their way to fame and is still, to this day, linked to the mishap. But times and ideals change. The days when lip-syncing was considered a cardinal sin are almost gone. For that, we have only one viral-video sharing app to thank: TikTok.
TikTok has taken the faux pas and turned it into a career-making craft, with some of its users boasting followings in the high millions. These TikTok stars don't just pick a song and move their mouths to the words. So much more goes into their video performances: there’s calculated choreography, unwavering eye contact, and boundless charisma. These TikTokkers have essentially turned lip-syncing into a profession and art. For the music industry, this might mean a continued shift in priority — an emphasis on spectacle rather than technical skill — but for these TikTokkers, it means mass opportunity. In other words, today Milli Vanilli might have very well been a pair of prospering TikTok stars.