Why it is OK that LeRoy Bell Sucks at Faking It

i-fb6773b158a61461e5f0105c19085cf8-Leroy_Bell.jpgSome people have been complaining about LeRoy and I want to make clear why they are wrong to do so. This is not a subtle or nuanced situation at all. People with the complaint to which I refer are embarrassing themselves. So this missive is just as much in support of LeRoy as it is to help those unfortunate individuals who are not quite up to speed in the logic department.

Let me 'splain. During the XFactor singing contest show last week, there was this big-ass extravaganza song, where all the singers came out at the same time and sang a big song and there were big lights on the big stage and lots of dancing around and stuff. This seems to be a tradition that started with American Idol, or perhaps it is a more widespread phenomenon than that.

Anybody who knows anything about singing and dancing knows the following; you can't dance and sing at the same time very easily. That itself is a special art. Some performers can do it, some can't. The choreography has to be designed around the simple fact that a human being can't belt it out and move in certain ways at the same time. Impossible. And, at the same time, both are strenuous activities. If you don't believe me, just watch some TV show where people dance and then get interviewed about how they did. They are panting. Now, try panting and singing at the same time.

This does relate to human evolution, by the way, in a manner I'll explain below after I've made my point.

In addition to all of this, in the case of XFactor or other similar shows, the big-ass extravaganza dance number is not the point of the show, yet is in some ways the most difficult and complicated part of the show. Therefore it has to be done in a manner that makes it possible for everyone to prepare for both the extravaganza group-sing and their own performances. (Keep in mind that every performer may have two songs to prepare ... their main performance and their back up song in case they are voted off or something).

So, what is always done, and not just on singing shows, is this: They record the song and lip sync it during the performance.

In this particular instance, it is said that LeRoy, when he started his part of the singing, screwed up the lip syncing and made it obvious that they were all not singing the song live.

This apparently made a lot of people who thought that the version of reality that is made up and put on TV for them to watch is, well, real. This blew their minds and they were considering blaming LeRoy for ruining their view of the universe. Or something.

i-6e3991663e51f6e4953ffc3dc6a40559-I_LOVE_LEROY_BELL.JPGLeRoy is a genuine singer and a very cool and personable individual. There is nothing fake about him. If you met him and talked with him for a while you would be impressed with what a nice, and real, guy he is. Which brings us to two points: Potential voters who would tend to vote for LeRoy are probably more like me ... we don't even notice lip syncing or care about it at all, but we see LeRoy's singing for what it is .... excellent, adaptable, high quality, not Country Western, smooth, and very much worth of voting for on it's own. LeRoy is not vote worthy because he is a card, or a joker, or abrasive to Simon, or any of those things. He is not vote worthy because he is loud (though he can be when the song requires) or sparkly (though he is good looking) or constantly in anguish or pain or too young to be as good as he is. He is vote worthy because he can sing and he sings amazingly well.

And here's the punchline: LeRoy is really bad at faking it, and that's why he sucks at lip syncing. If that alone is a reason to not vote for him, you already weren't voting for him.

Having said all that, I want to add this because it is very important: The things I said about LeRoy (what he is NOT) two paragraphs ago are not meant to be slurs for the current contestants. Rather, they are things that come to mind when I think about these singing contests in general, both the present one (XFactor USA) and the couple of American Idol seasons I watched in the past. In fact, I have to say that I'm rather impressed with the current contestants as a group, seemingly great people, and excellent performers. The worst I can say about a few of them is that they have a narrow range of capabilities ... for instance the rapper kid seems to be only a rapper and not a singer, and they've even bent the rules for him, letting him rap his own stuff instead of assigning him material. But he's very talented. All of them are very talented.

Nonetheless I hope you vote for LeRoy!

Oh, back to the human evolution part: Without going into detail, it is relevant that humans and large open country animals like horses or antelopes are very different in how they breath. An antelope or horse has to exhale whenever it comes down on its stride while running, and so mus inhale during the upstride. This means that the pace of breathing is fixed to the pace of running, and that actually does not work as a way of getting oxygen to muscles. Humans, being bipedal, can breathe at a rate independently of their rate of running. That is why if a horse and a human start at the same point and run a race, the human will likely win the race if it is a few miles or longer in length. The horse overheats and runs out of O2 etc. etc. after a few miles, but the human just keeps going, passes the horse, and wins.

Just like LeRoy is going to pass all the other singers and win. Go LeRoy!!!!

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I get all those LeRoy posts now. This is one of those reality-tv talent shows. Sheesh. Head-slap. I'm so out of touch with pop culture (except sci-fi, of course)...I wasn't sure what you'd been talking about so didn't fully read the posts.

By Daniel J. Andrews (not verified) on 08 Nov 2011 #permalink

Of course, the horses can't sing at all either. BUt I thought your evolutionary point was going to be that the dancing stuff gets done through the motor strip, and so does a lot of the singing stuff, and that is why it is really difficult to do both at the same time too. As it is to knap and talk about it. Though you can learn to do these two-motor-strip-tasks and then the panting thing comes in. Go Gene Kelly.

Love your blog and I do like Leroy, but have to plug and vote for Josh Krajcik as he is from my hometown and I heard him when he first started out playing in a local coffee house!

Two things.

Thing the 1st: that is also why the acting in opera is so perfunctory (compared to non-musical acting).

Thing the 2nd: the antelope/horse breathing also pertains to dogs, which is why it's not good to take a dog along on an extended run (and absolutely not on a leash).

By drbubbles (not verified) on 09 Nov 2011 #permalink

drdrubbles: Right! I is a cursorial quadruped vs. biped thing. I wanted to contrast it, though, because smaller mammals may have such different strategies and dynamics that I didn't want to generalize too much.

Interesting point about the Opera.

John, in case you are looking for your comment, please refer to the context here and then decide if you want to say that particular thing at this particular time and place. And if you still do, repost your comment. And I'll delete it again, of course!

love your blog! i'm a big fan of Leroy! I just think he's such a great singer and NOW is his time. He's Genuine. That's what I love most about him.