We’ve heard these musicians perform sweeping ballads, RnB hits and noughties nights out on their albums, but when they hit the live stage they’re… awful? A few of our writers get together to talk about some of the biggest stars who just can’t cut it when live in front of thousands.
Lana Del Rey
Latitude Festival, 2019. Pop icon Lana Del Rey topped the bill as the Sunday night headliner with a crowd was full of screaming 20 somethings adorned with flower crowns and glitter. Del Rey sauntered onto the stage, which was decorated in a beachy style.
It seemed the summertime themed props on stage were perhaps making up for the lack of stage presence from Lana herself. While Del Rey can certainly sing, her set at Latitude didn’t showcase the best of her talents. For one, the sound was completely off – the classic Lana Del Rey layered harmony backing track was way too loud, drowning out the lead vocal. Secondly, much of the set was made up of the singer slowly walking around the stage and lounging on her several props. Although it’s very on-brand for Del Rey to give off a mysterious, cool and collected image, it unfortunately just made her seem bored. The last portion of the show was the most excruciating. For the last 20 minutes, Del Rey went to the barrier to interact with the fans in the front row, while her band played an instrumental track. For the fans at the front, who got to talk to the singer and have her sign various items, it was probably incredible. However, for the thousands of people in the rest of the crowd, it was incredibly dull having to watch an empty stage and listen to an instrumental track and the distant screams of Lana Del Rey super-fans having the time of their life. All in all, while Del Rey is undoubtedly one of the greatest artists of all time, she comes across as too blasé on stage for my liking and didn’t excite the crowd enough to be headlining a major festival.
I’m throwing it back to the RnB duo, Milli Vanilli. I never had the “pleasure” of seeing them live on stage, but by most accounts, they were thoroughly entertaining and knew how to put on a good show. So, why have they made it onto this collab? Well, it’s because it was all a big hoodwink and resulted in the duo being exposed as having never sung live on stage, and in fact, not even singing on the tracks of their own album! In a truly chaotic concert, Milli Vanilli were accidentally exposed as lip-syncing rather than singing after their backing track got caught on repeat. In a matter of seconds, their world was turned upside down and all the pair could do was run off stage, making fools out of themselves in the process. In the following weeks, the media turned their eyes to the duo as their elaborate ruse and façade were revealed, used to bring a fresh and entertaining face to the voices behind the music. So imagine, every time someone saw a Milli Vanilli show, all they really got was a pale imitation of the real musicians behind the music with a few slick dance moves and a little dreaminess.
Picture this. It’s the start of an absolute belter noughties music weekender at Butlins. It’s going to get wild. You straighten your hair, apply the face paint, pick up your bum bag, and get ready to hit the crowds. Then it begins; low hushes wiped out by excited cheers, and the call of some guys on the mic. It’s Blazin’ Squad. After Marcel appeared on Love Island, it was no surprise to find Blazin’ Squad resurfacing and doing the opening performance to our weekend of music. However, after Crossroads, almost all of the crowd was left very confused as to what was being sung at them. Nobody knew the words, nobody recognised the tune. Instead, we all stood, silent, watching these 35-year-old men try and relive their youth with people who were not around to remember it.
Was there good singing? No. Was there good dancing? No. Was it good vibes? Absolutely not. It was a very poor choice to open with a set that should have been capped at 3 minutes 25 seconds. The hottest takeaway here? Booking bands for the LOLs is just a completely terrible idea, and that’s coming from someone who saw Imagine Dragons just for the big drums.