The 25 Best Performances in 'Lip Sync Battle' History
Since Lip Sync Battle joined Spike’s TV lineup in April 2015, celebrity guests have competed at fake-singing hits ranging from the Backstreet Boys to Black Sabbath. The audience chooses a winner, who takes home a hefty championship belt. LL Cool J is the host, and Chrissy Teigen is the eye candy.
Great dancers always do well on Lip Sync Battle: the entire performance is judged, and full use of the stage is expected. Comedians struggle -- aside from Jimmy Fallon, the program's mastermind. Anyone who mimes a hit made famous by their opponent is given props, and women rappers and men in drag do especially well.
This Thursday, Spike will air an hour-long special episode where Star Trek Beyond stars Zoë Saldana and Zachary Quinto duke it out for the title. With the above observations in mind, we ranked the 25 best Lip Sync battlers to date.
25. Victoria Justice
Nickelodeon starlet Justice lost to Disney Channel and Pretty Little Liars alum Gregg Sulkin, apparently because she declined to wear costumes during her two outings. Still, it's surprisingly fun to watch her nanosecond switches from the female to the male parts in Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart."
24. Stephen Merchant
Super-tall British comedian and LSB co-producer Merchant clad himself in black chaps and a Union Jack tank to imitate a caged Christina Aguilera in her 2002 video "Dirrty," successfully facing off against actress Malin Akerman. Earlier in the show, inspired by a fellow "sex symbol" with "deep olive-rich skin," he pretended to belt out Enrique Iglesias' quivery ballad "Hero."
23. Shaquille O'Neal
The retired NBA center proved just an OK lip-syncer, but kudos to him for finding leg warmers to fit his 7'1" frame while he snaps and shimmies to "Maniac" from Flashdance (he bookends his performance with welding and a wet chair soak). This after Shaq made the tongue-in-cheek choice to mime "Love Shack" by the B-52's in a winning bout against The Talk’s Aisha Tyler.
22. Iggy Azalea
"Fancy" Australian rapper Azalea defeated her Laker fiancé, Nick Young, near the end of LSB’s first season. She began the night with a head-banging rendition of "Teenage Dirtbag" by Wheatus, which she followed with Silk’s hip-gyrating "Freak Me," a track that debuted when Azalea was a toddler.
21. Gigi Hadid
Hadid was just 4 years old when the Backstreet Boys released "Larger Than Life" in 1999, yet she chose the alien-esque anthem for her victorious match-up with Tyler Posey (MTV’s Teen Wolf). Wearing a latex catsuit while pulling off a choreographed motorcycle routine, the Victoria's Secret model ends the song with former BSB members Nick Carter and AJ McLean emerging from a pair of ivory pods.
20. Taraji P. Henson
Although the Empire matriarch could not top her TV spouse, Terrence Howard, the actress did enlist an A-list backup singer in Mary J. Blige, who lent support on her 2007 single, "Just Fine." Henson began her run on the show’s two-part Season 1 finale with "Material Girl," which she "sung" while several men in tuxes lifted her skyward.
19. Julianne Hough
Telegenic siblings Derek and Julianne Hough -- a Dancing with the Stars pro and judge, respectively -- squared off during Season 1 of LSB. Julianne triumphed by calling in Meghan Trainor for an "All About That Bass" assist, and grinding on two shirtless blokes during the Lonely Island's "I Just Had Sex" (featuring Akon), a song choice that caught everyone off guard.
18. Terrence Howard
He plays domineering father and mogul Lucious Lyon on Empire, but Howard let his playful side show by channeling both Boyz II Men and the Commodores via Rick James in a duel with Taraji P. Henson. It was a callback to the two first co-starring together in 2005's Hustle & Flow. "I can't get enough of this shit," laughed host LL Cool J midway through Howard’s take on "Brick House," which he concluded by toppling into a golden hot tub.
17. Hayley Atwell
Best known to TV audiences as the lead in the series Agent Carter, Atwell was defeated in her silent showdown by Marvel rival Clark Gregg, who dressed as a female flight attendant to reenact Britney Spears' "Toxic" video (he even kissed a passenger: his wife, Jennifer Grey). Still, Atwell attempted a much higher level of difficulty, adapting to stage one of the most avant-garde sequences of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" video, the whole time resembling Isabella Rossellini in one of her Green Porno vignettes.
16. Gina Rodriguez
Jane Villanueva, Gina Rodridguez's Golden Globe-winning protagonist on Jane the Virgin, is finicky and cautious. So the audience rewarded Rodriguez’s bold costumes, gestures, and facial expressions during Lil Wayne's "A Milli" and En Vogue's "Free Your Mind" with a victory over That '70s Show vet Wilmer Valderrama.
15. Tracee Ellis Ross
The Black-ish actress schooled onscreen spouse Anthony Anderson on LSB -- without even dishing up a tune by her mom, Diana Ross. Instead, she served Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass" and then "Love Is a Battlefield" by Pat Benatar, which she staged with the narrative of a Lifetime movie, plus a posse of '80s-inspired ladies dancing aerobic backup.
14. Snoop Dogg
You'd be forgiven for assuming that the ever-mellow Snoop Dogg would phone in a couple rounds of lip-syncing, even if they were against charismatic Clippers point guard Chris Paul. Actually, Snoop committed hard, masquerading as both Bob Marley ("Could You Be Loved") and -- in quite the departure -- a shirtless, mangy-haired Steve Perry. Faux-belting out Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," the artist formerly known as Snoop Lion had his losing competitor and the host standing and singing from start to finish.
13. Katharine McPhee
She came in second on American Idol's fifth season, but Katharine McPhee claimed the studded trophy belt with her bedpost-licking, Kama Sutra-approved, fembot-reminiscent version of "Want to Want Me," a ditty by her opponent, Jason Derulo. Earlier, she pretended to croon to Mystikal's 2000 hit "Shake Ya Ass," which censors rechristened as "Shake It Fast."
12. John Krasinski
Though he's not associated with musical theater like his competitor, Anna Kendrick, LSB co-producer Krasinski (The Office) seemingly had a huge advantage in this match-up, since he'd seen the inner workings of the show. He put a valiant effort into his loss, first replicating the marionette sequence from 'N Sync's "Bye Bye Bye" video, than tearing away his suit during "Proud Mary" to reveal a Tina Turner-worthy silver lamé dress.
11. Jim Rash
We assumed, after 12 years of antics on The Soup, Joel McHale would dominate on another half-hour program that relies on props and licensed music to create internet-portioned content. Not so: his Community co-star, a fishnet- and sports bra-wearing Rash, trounced him, bashing a McHale piñata before climbing into a giant swing for Pink's "So What."
10. Jimmy Fallon
At some point, LSB producer Fallon will likely be inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most time spent lip-syncing on television -- back when Jay Leno was still on the air, Fallon debuted make-believe harmonizing as a late-night time filler. In Spike's series premiere, the current Tonight Show host summoned a huge gospel choir to help mime Madonna's "Like a Prayer" and led an audience conga line during "Jump in the Line (Shake, Señora)," but after all that, Dwayne Johnson still walked away with the title.
9. Josh Gad
In his winning battle against The Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco, Gad probably had the most creative wardrobe, props, and concept of any LSB contestant thus far. While Frozen's Olaf could have just replicated a popular music video, he chose to embody Donald Trump to the tune of the Divinyls' "I Touch Myself." "Oh my God, my face hurts!" said cracking-up Cuoco before Gad crawled across the stage in boxers made of dollar bills, rode a wrecking ball resembling Trump’s pate while an army of Trumps did the cancan, and French-kissed another Trump doppelgänger (Cuoco's co-star Johnny Galecki) who arrived on a donkey.
8. Emily Blunt
Blunt ranks higher than her husband, John Krasinski, and against most LSB adversaries, she would have been awarded the championship belt. Her British accent is forgotten during her impassioned tribute to Blackstreet ("No Diggity") and as she tosses daffodils to the crowd while peering through rose-colored glasses on "Piece of My Heart," Blunt does a swell job convincing casting directors that she could have beat out Amy Adams for the lead in that long-stalled Janis Joplin biopic. Yet ultimately, she was overpowered by her co-star in TheDevil Wears Prada, Anne Hathaway -- more on that in a bit.
7. Alison Brie
Mad Men's Trudy Campbell (and Community's Annie) absolutely smoked Arrested Development magician Will Arnett in Season 1 with a pair of effortless-looking performances. After mouthing the words to "Shoop" by previous LSB duo Salt-N-Pepa, shifty-eyed Brie and a few female Dick Tracy look-alikes put on their best gangster garb to execute Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj's smash, "Bang Bang."
6. Jenna Dewan Tatum
The Season 2 premiere, which resulted in the sole tie in the history of the Spike series, confirmed which Hollywood couple has the best sense of humor. Dewan Tatum -- who met her husband while filming Step Up in 2006 -- began with a choreography-heavy depiction of "Cold Hearted," guest-starring Paula Abdul. Next, she came on stage in a very familiar outfit and proceeded to act out a version of Ginuwine's "Pony" that was even raunchier than the one Channing did in Magic Mike, complete with a conjugal lap dance.
5. Channing Tatum
This time, Dewan Tatum did a better job dancing and lip-syncing than her husband. However, Channing arranged the most famous cameo in the history of the series, Beyoncé -- the woman who won't even consent to a Vogue interview when she's on its cover -- a moment that left his wife gobsmacked. Also, Mr. Tatum wore women's clothing during two beloved anthems: "Run the World (Girls)" and "Let It Go," where he was accompanied by a handful of dancing snowflakes.
4. Anna Kendrick
The always competitive Kendrick had two big reveals in store for her LSB foe John Krasinski. During round one -- which most celebs downplay, heightening expectations for round two -- she turned One Direction's "Steal My Girl" into a Notting Hill-level saga about pining for Krasinski's wife, Emily Blunt. And while pantomiming "Booty" by Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull, Pitch Perfect Kendrick brought out the former American Idol judge for an ending wallop.
3. Terry Crews
America: Crews -- who gave Mike Tyson one of the very few clobberings he's ever endured -- should be much, much more famous than he is. Watching his mesmerizing, saucer-eyed take on Vanessa Carlton's "A Thousand Miles," during which the Brooklyn Nine-Nine sergeant strips down to white trousers to attempt wobbly ballet, modern dance, and rhythmic gymnastics, makes him as inseparable from that song as Christopher Walken is from Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice."
2. Dwayne Johnson
A significant part of what made LSB the highest-rated premiere in Spike's history is the massive appeal of a massive man, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who kept Fallon in check. The wrestler-turned-actor was formidable from the get-go with a bouncing, bird-flipping, bare-bones homage to Taylor "Tay-Tay" Swift's "Shake It Off." "You can tell that he's done this before in his bedroom," Fallon joked. For his finale, Johnson made a personal dig at Fallon (who played the titular role on Saturday Night Live's recurring Barry Gibb Talk Show) with a perfectly suave, spontaneous-seeming "Stayin' Alive" performance that even included his signature moves: sleeve-buttoning and eyebrow-raising.
1. Anne Hathaway
Hathaway is the only Oscar-winning actor to appear on the series so far. Since lip-syncing is just an elementary form of pretending, it makes sense that our best actors might make the best lip-syncers, as long as they don't take themselves too seriously. Her first "song" is Mary J. Blige's "Love," and she requires no special costume to be fluid and sensual. But really, it's all about her closer: Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball." Hathaway emerges from backstage still looking like herself, but subtly transformed -- now her hair's gelled straight and her nails are bright white. Putting her whole body into each gesture -- with not one iota of mockery -- she mouths the gradual opening chords, building drama for when she rips off her athletic pants. Standing next to a pair of construction workers in her tighty-whities, she wields a bedazzled hammer with that same teary look she had in Les Misérables. Then she leaps from the spotlight into the dark, only to land safely on, of course, a wrecking ball, which she rides while emotional anguish and ecstasy seep across her face. When the song ends, Blunt exclaims, "No!" certain she has lost.
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