Stephen Merchant is one of the original lip-syncers, helping to bring it to its current form on Jimmy Fallon, where he did a very memorable rendition of DJ Jazzy Jeff and Mr. Pinkett’s “Boom! Shake the Room.” This is to say that Malin Akerman (RIP, Trophy Wife) has a lot of work cut out for her. How do they fare?
Battle 1: Malin Akerman’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” vs. Stephen Merchant’s “Hero”
I’m going to start off by saying, Malin Akerman, I think you have a lot of potential! Your rendition of Def Leppard is solid and by-the-book, and would certainly have put you over the top against Hoda Kotb or Mike Tyson, but Stephen Merchant’s “Hero” is a thing of beauty, and easily my favorite performance on this show yet. It’s weird, kooky, and does exactly what I think a lip sync should do, which is create a relationship with a song. Sure, lines like “I will stand by you forever” and “Now would you die for the one you loved?” may be romantic, but they are also extremely creepy! And that is precisely what Merchant’s “Hero” conveys.
Winner: Stephen Merchant, by a buggy eye.
Battle 2: Malin Akerman’s “Talk Dirty” vs. Stephen Merchant’s “Dirrty”
Again: Serviceable! Akerman does everything well, but nothing is particularly spectacular. She’s not a physical comedian in the way that Merchant is, using his gangly limbs to great effect, and she does sort of look like an American Girl doll playing dress up. As for Merchant, while I’m generally unimpressed by the theatrical production of the second-round performances, he brings it around for me with the stool sequence and characteristically X-tina melismata. Respect.
Winner: Stephen Merchant, by the seat of your chaps.
Stephen Merchant, you’re less famous than Anne Hathaway, but you’ve won this season in my heart.