The top 10 on-stage artist mishaps

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If you have ever been to a concert, you know that things sometimes go wrong. Singers flub their lines, they fall down, and sometimes they get injured. These kinds of things happen all the time, but some just stand out. I hit Google to find some of the worst on-stage artist mishaps.

10. Christina Aguilera flubs the Star-Spangled Banner

You know, I can understand it if a young, relatively new singer messes up the Star-Spangled Banner. They’re alone in a big field and it isn’t easy singing in front of thousands of people. However, Christina Aguilera is a veteran (as far as the music industry goes). So it was shocking to many when she flubbed it big time at this year’s Super Bowl. Unfortunately her attempt to cover up the missed words by making the melody more superfluous than it usually is at these kinds of events only made the mistakes more obvious.

9. Usher gets kicked in the face

Last December Usher invited a female fan to the stage for a serenade. Things went okay until they changed positions, and the excited fan tried to move her leg closer. Unfortunately for Usher, her foot didn’t stop moving and connected with his nose. The injury didn’t faze him, and he actually made a joke out of it: "We play rough in the bed ... We kick each other in the face and all that good stuff."

8. Elton John’s piano pedal gets stuck

Technical difficulties are one of the worst things that can happen during a show, because the artist has to stop the show while the kinks are worked out. The performer can look really bad when it happens, but the best artists take the whole thing in stride.

That’s what happened in 2009 when, during a Elton John/Billy Joel concert, one of Sir Elton’s piano pedals got stuck during a rendition of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” After getting his piano tech to fix the problem, John asked the audience “Does anyone here have a f***ing screwdriver!?!” while Joel kept up spirits with a series of one-liners and filler music.

7. Mic cuts out, amp cuts out, and fire alarm rings at Jay-Z concert

When technical difficulties happen at a concert, they typically happen in a big and obvious way. A microphone cuts out, or the power shuts down completely. So it’s not surprising that a Jay-Z concert in 2009 was subject to the latter when his microphone and amp power cut out. Then the fire alarm started going off. Whether not that is indicative of an actual fire is difficult to tell. I can’t find any such story in the media, so perhaps the alarm was just sensitive to dry ice. That said, I am a little concerned that nobody was trying to find an exit, as fires at concerts have taken lives before.

6. Beyonce falls down

Artists tend to have as much trouble with their feet as they do with their lines. Not necessarily because they mess up their moves, but because they miss where their feet are going, which leads to nasty accidents. A few years ago at a Beyonce concert the singer tripped on the flight of stairs she was dancing down. After getting back to her feet, the R&B superstar pleaded with the audience to not post video of the accident. Nobody listened, of course, and so we're able to show you it today.

5. Jessica Simpson gets nervous in front of Dolly Parton

While performing to honor one of country music’s greatest artists, Dolly Parton, Jessica Simpson flubbed lines to one of Parton’s own songs. Standing in front of an audience that included the President of the United States, among others, Simpson announced that she was “so nervous” and proceeded to leave the stage in a hurry. She later returned with the moral support of Reese Witherspoon.

4. Katy Perry slips and slides

As I wrote earlier, it’s easy to miss where your feet are moving while entertaining your audience, but it’s more difficult when the floor is slippery. Katy Perry learned this during a concert in 2009. After she finished singing her famous “I Kissed A Girl” atop a cake, she scrambled off it, only to walk into a mess of frosting on the stage. She slipped not once, not twice, not thrice, but four times before crawling away to drier territory.

3. Steven Tyler falls off the stage

So are you seeing a pattern now? Artists tend to slip and fall a lot. You can fall down stairs or just off the stage completely. That’s what happened to Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler in 2009 at a concert in South Dakota. The singer was greeting his fans after a song with some exuberant moves, but didn’t notice that he was heading toward the right edge of the stage.

The current American Idol judge suffered head, neck, and shoulder injuries as a result, and the band had to postpone their next concert.

2. Milli Vanilli lip syncs quite obviously

That lip syncing happens in the music industry is not a huge secret. A lot of pop artists do it, and many concerts swap between real singing and a pre-recorded track from time to time, if only to give the artist’s voice a rest. Yet, it’s a controversial practice, because fans spend a lot of money on a ticket expecting to get the real thing, not a recording. So when it becomes obvious, it turns into big news.

Such was the case of Milli Vanilli, a pop duo from the mid-80s and early 90s. Toward the end of their career, observers began to notice the syncing whenever the whenever the microphone was pulled away and the sound would still come in loud and clear, or when the track would skip (as in the above video).

It turns out that Milli Vanilli was doing a lot more than lip syncing. They hadn’t actually recorded their songs at all, but used outside voices, which led to them losing their 1990 Grammy Award. After that, Milli Vanilli pretty much fell apart.

1. The wardrobe malfunction

What list of artist mishaps would be complete without the one that spawned a completely new term? Super Bowl XXXVIII’s halftime show featured, among other artists, Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson, who performed Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body.”

Directly after singing “Bet I’ll have you naked by the end of this song,” Timberlake pulled away a portion of Jackson’s costume, briefly revealing one of her … yeah, before cameras cut away to other shots.

The reveal caused a media fire storm, condemnation from parents’ groups, parody by comedians, and fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for airing station CBS, Viacom, and the two artists. The incident also had a wider effect in the television media, causing many producers to become paranoid of any hint of sexuality in their programs, lest the FCC come knocking.

Okay, now it's your turn. Which mishaps did I miss?

Comments (2) -

SeatsPro said...

I do believe that is the wrong Aguilera clip.  That's from the NBA All-Star game.

May 6, 2011 at 1:26 PM

Mike said...

Woops! You're right, SeatsPro. I think I mixed it up with some other clips I was researching at the time.

Thanks for the catch!

May 6, 2011 at 2:51 PM