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Yes, Garth Brooks Sucks at Lip-Syncing … So What?

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Rick Diamond, Getty Images

Garth Brooks admits he lip-synced during his performance at the 2017 CMA Awards on Wednesday night (Nov. 8), and yet somehow, the sun still rose Thursday morning and life went on.

Brooks performed his latest single, “Ask Me How I Know,” with songwriter Mitch Rossell on the broadcast, and he imbued the performance with a typically over-the-top energy. But as the song went on, it seemed pretty clear that the superstar — who later won Entertainer of the Year for the second straight year in 2017 — was lip-syncing his performance.

To his credit, Brooks didn’t attempt to deny he was lip-syncing when reporters asked him about it backstage afterward. How could he? Brooks is one of the most dynamic live entertainers of his generation, but as it turns out, lip-syncing is not among his many talents. “Syncing” is actually too generous a word to use for what he did, since it implies that one’s mouth is synchronized with the words to the song, which Brooks’ mouth clearly was not. At one point he even turned away from the mic briefly, and his voice continued uninterrupted.

The superstar simply explained to reporters that he’s in the middle of performing 12 shows in 10 days on his massive World Tour, and he’s been sick.

“We made a game-time call on whether to sing to a track or lip-sync. And we decided to lip-sync it,” he said (quote via the Tennessean), adding, “We decided to lip-sync it because my voice was just not there, and we wanted to represent country music the best we can.”

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The story should have ended there, but it didn’t. The performance is one of the most viral moments from the 2017 CMA Awards on social media, and as Fox News reports, a number of fans have tweeted their outrage about it.

Saving Country Music called it “an embarrassing moment for the CMAs, country music, and Garth,” adding it was “a shame that it had to happen when Garth received the biggest distinction of the night, and after Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, and others turned in such stellar live performances.”

Fair enough, but everyone knows television is mostly stagecraft, and it’s not unusual for stars in any genre to lip-sync on awards shows or other TV appearances. It might happen a little bit less in country music, but it’s certainly not unprecedented. Rascal Flatts admitted to lip-syncing on the ACM Awards in 2014 when singer Gary LeVox had lost his voice, and there have long been rumors that certain other stars lip-synced on TV or even at live shows and did not admit it. Brooks didn’t misrepresent his performance as live, and he gave a full explanation of why he felt the call was necessary.

Plus, he didn’t win an award for Best Live Singing on a TV Broadcast or Best Lip-Syncer of the Year, he won Entertainer of the Year — an award he has won five other times and has quite obviously earned again in 2017 on the strength of his massive live numbers over the past year.

A day later, the focus on the story serves as a mere distraction from the true takeaway from the 2017 CMA Awards, which offered country music fans unity, solace and healing after a tough year in country music and elsewhere that included the deaths of several beloved stars, hurricanes and floods, a devastating mass shooting at a concert in Las Vegas, the #MeToo movement and more. The whole world seems like it’s upside-down and on fire sometimes, and this is what we’re upset about?!

Uh … nope.

In fact, there are really only two things any true fan of country music should be saying to Garth Brooks this morning. First, “Thanks for your many years of service and uplifting music, and for showing up for us at an important moment even though you were sick. We appreciate you.” And secondly and most importantly, “Get well soon, Garth. We need you out there spreading the love and lifting lives.”

See Pics from the 2017 CMA Awards Red Carpet

Next: See Winners from the 2017 CMA Awards

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