For most of us, myself included, we have no discernible talent when it comes to music. I have envy for those that can sing (like my wife) or play guitar or drums (like numerous friends I have) at a high level. My wife likes to tell me that I would have made a great lead guitar or even bass player because of my tall, slender build. Truth be told, I’ve been an air guitar legend in my own mind for decades. I’ll even slide over to the air drums whenever Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” or Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” comes on over the speakers.
I’ve written on here before about my love of MTV music videos (obviously), and even my pretend top 10 music video show. Like a lot of us, I’m also a singing star… in the shower, in the car, in the house, it doesn’t matter. Television programming these days is full of reality based talent shows involving singing and dancing and cooking and athletic feats, and I enjoy a lot of these shows.
If you’ve seen Spike TV’s successful show “Lip Sync Battle” hosted by LL Cool J, and are old enough to remember, then you know lip syncing shows on television was truly born in the 80’s thanks to Dick Clark Productions.
In 1984, “Puttin’ On the Hits” debuted, and I loved it. Average “Joe’s” showing up every week and lip-syncing to a variety of songs while under the watchful eye of three “expert” judges. Each judge scored each act in three categories on a scale of 1-10: originality, appearance, and performance. The act with the highest total at the end of each episode won a thousand dollars.
The show lasted four seasons and ended with the season four winner taking on the previous three season winners in a $25,000 winner-take-all contest. Host Allen Fawcett came into our living rooms every week like a pre-Ian Ziering Beverly Hills 90210 reject rocking some sweet 80’s hair and dominating the interviews with the performers with hard-hitting, in-depth questions like: “what are your ages?” and “what are your names?” and “what station are all of your friends back home watching on?” James Lipton he was not.
(Ian Ziering, not Allen Fawcett) (James Lipton, also not Allen Fawcett)
The show inspired numerous rudimentary lip-syncing videos of my own production through the years starting in high school when I talked my younger sister into doing a rendition of The Fat Boys’ “Wipeout” song (actual video to come someday).
(A very grainy photo of my little sis in 1988 on the “turntable” as one of “The Fat Kids” in our “Wipeout” video. She wasn’t that big. It’s just a pillow you know, just in case you weren’t sure. Also, shoutout to Pitt basketball – “Send it in Jerome!”)
The trend continued on into college in the late 80’s and early 90’s where my buddies and I made numerous lip syncing videos to the likes of Duran Duran, New Kids on the Block, and we even spun ourselves into a very white Public Enemy one year. Until I find the PE video, you’ll just have to settle for this one the five of us shot around 3:30am on a Sunday morning (seriously) just before finals back in December of 1989. I’m sure Sam Cooke would be so proud of this rendition of his 1960 hit “Wonderful World.” Here’s just a small sampling of the creative genius when you have a VHS video camera, tripod, and five 18-19 year olds up at 3:30 on a Sunday morning.
Back to “Puttin’ on the Hits” – looking through some old youtube footage (youtube is the best), I came across this Oklahoma act that re-enacted a song from a little known rap group that lasted only three years called the “Boogie Boys.” The Harlem rap group had one top 10 R&B hit called “A Fly Girl.”
These four 17 year olds cleverly became the “Bootie Boys” for their lip-syncing performance of a lesser known Boogie Boys’ song from 1986 called “Girl Talk.” With some nice 80’s dance moves and a big score, check out a clip from one of my favorite 80’s shows – here are “The Bootie Boys,” the awesome Allen Fawcett, and “Girl Talk”…
Thanks for reading. Now, go out and lip-sync to your favorite song!