The Reason Performers Lip Sync During The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

For many people, the holiday season is filled with a sense of wonder and transcendent charm for a short span of weeks. One of the highlights of the season in the United States is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, a genuine holiday tradition dating back to 1924 (via Macy's). Any performance has a certain level of expertise behind it — professional training, stagecraft, even illusion — and the annual parade is no exception.

Just to be clear, we're not talking about whether or not Santa Claus is real. Rather, it's the fact that singers at the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City have been known to lip sync during their performances.

For some reason, the notion of lip syncing — giving the appearance of singing, while actually mouthing along to a prerecorded track — seems like one of the most treacherous gestures of deception a singer can throw at an audience. (Milli Vanilli, anyone?) However, according to Entertainment Weekly, there's a handful of good reasons why even the most proficient performers often must resort to the old parlor trick during the Thanksgiving Day Parade. 

Why singers lip sync during the parade

In 2018, R&B star John Legend came under fire after people observed him blatantly lip syncing during the Thanksgiving Day Parade in Manhattan (via Entertainment Weekly). When the truth of the matter came out, people sort of felt robbed of a genuine performance that, in their eyes, didn't need to be fabricated at all. Legend didn't hesitate to defend his actions on Twitter. "Fun fact. We all have to lip sync on this parade because the floats don't have the capacity to handle the sound requirements for a live performance. Hope y'all enjoyed it anyway," he wrote. "Know that if you come to my shows, the vocals are 100% live!"

There are pragmatic reasons for singers dabbling in what might be considered a misleading tactic during the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Think about the massive production it takes to put on a stadium concert – how could all of the electronics, acoustics, and various logistics function on a moving platform that's hardly bigger than a single stage? Furthermore, broadcasting live poses a number of other challenging issues. 

The weather doesn't help

"It's annoying for us but anyway! All my shows are 100% live always have been!" pop singer Rita Ora, who also lip-synched during the 2018 parade, tweeted as a follow-up to Legend's statement. "When you come to a ORA show get ready! Back to holidays! Have a good one guys!" Naturally, musicians don't want to lip sync (at least, you'd hope not), but certain circumstances often leave them with no other choice (per Time).

As Entertainment Weekly reports, the weather is also a factor for singers having to perform during the yearly holiday spectacle. The month of November is often accompanied by unforgivingly cold temperatures in northern regions of the United States, which leaves parade performers exposed to potential elemental assaults on their vocal cords if they're not careful. Some, however, appear to be willing to take the chance, including Kelly Clarkson, who sang live, per another Entertainment Weekly report that year. It should also be clarified that Clarkson wasn't singing from a standard parade float, either.