Spike TV’s biggest hit is its gayest show yet: Lip Sync Battle, hosted by LL Cool J and with an inexplicable Chrissy Teigen waving in the background. In a widely shared performance, Anne Hathaway allegedly won the lip-sync battle against Emily Blunt for her performance of Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball.” And while she may in fact have won on Lip Sync Battle, did she really win? Here at Vulture, we’re going to go through and do a post-match analysis evaluating song choice, precision, and embodiment — the last piece referring to the lip-syncer’s ability to embody the true spirit of the song, while imbuing it with something personal.
Battle 1: Anne Hathaway’s “Love” vs. Emily Blunt’s “No Diggity”
Clearly the formula for the show is that the first “battle” is a bit more low-key. Anne Hathaway chose Mary J. Blige’s “Love” off of No More Drama, and Emily Blunt took on a ‘90s throwback classic, Blackstreet’s “No Diggity.” Blunt clearly wins in terms of song choice. While “Love” is a good song, it doesn’t hit that nostalgia nerve in the back of your head the way Blackstreet does. Moreover, Anne Hathaway’s performance is technically very good, but her tendency toward camp and toothy smiles throws off the love-weary mood of the song. Meaning that in the most important category, embodiment, she fails. Blunt, on the other hand, absolutely doesn’t overplay it: She’s relaxed but ready to pounce, and just slays Queen Pen’s rap.
Winner: Emily Blunt.
Battle 2: Emily Blunt’s “Piece of My Heart” vs. Anne Hathaway’s “Wrecking Ball”
We’d like to take a moment to gripe that these lip-sync battles rely too heavily on pageantry: backup dancers, heart-shaped balloons, sledgehammers, a wrecking ball. These performances should be about metaphorical wrecking balls, not literal ones. That said, we suspect that Blunt’s choice of Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” was hobbled by production antics. There should be no fur coats, daisies, or beach balls falling from the sky. No! This is about heroin-fueled desperation and turmoil. Instead of going camp, she should have gone real (which, yes, is its own form of camp). That is, if you’re going to do Janis Joplin, you do Janis Joplin.
Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” perhaps is the perfect vehicle for a campy performance, and that is where Anne Hathaway lives. She’s the ultimate theater kid, self-obsessed and an exhibitionist. And as this became a performance about the production value as much as it was about the lip-syncing, it becomes hard to separate the great climax of the performance. The girl knows drama.
Winner: Anne Hathaway
Overall, it’s a matter of taste: Do you prefer the camp of Anne Hathaway or the relaxed karaoke vibe of Emily Blunt? With a heavy heart, we’re going to have to give this to Anne Hathaway. Just imagine her as a drag queen, and you’ll feel better.