by Julian Spivey
The Lip Sync Battle was one of the greatest things to ever come to late night television when it debuted on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” with game co-creator Stephen Merchant (who created it with John Krasinski and Emily Blunt) and soon became a recurring segment on Fallon’s version of “The Tonight Show.”
However, the game had become somewhat boring and uninteresting lately thanks to it becoming a hit (which likely means I’m in the minority in my viewpoint) Spike show that debuted in early April. The show was thrilling early on with matchups like Krasinski vs. Anna Kendrick and Fallon vs. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, but soon became less exciting and interesting when it started matching celebrities like Justin Bieber against NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders and “Today” co-host Hoda Kotb against NFL Hall of Famer and talk show host Michael Strahan.
Despite the ratings popularity, I believe we got too much “Lip Sync Battle” in such a short time that it was no longer thrilling to watch and you ultimately realized you were wasting 30 minutes a week simply watching famous people fake perform to other famous people.
It had gotten to the point where I would delete episodes of the Spike series from my DVR without even giving a thought to actually viewing them. Why would anybody really need to see Julianne Hough compete against brother Derek Hough, after all?
And then came last night’s episode of “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon,” where the Lip Sync Battle returned for its first segment in months. Tom Cruise was the guest pimping his latest “Mission: Impossible” film and had challenged Fallon to a duel.
I never thought in a million years I’d ever praise Cruise for something, but he revived the dying segment. Cruise absolutely owned his performance of The Weeknd’s summer smash hit “Can’t Feel My Face,” putting forth what truly is one of his finest acting performances in recent memory. Then things got even better and funnier when he faked Fallon out by acting like he was going to lip sync to Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock & Roll” as he famously did in his underwear in 1983’s “Risky Business,” a movie that truly turned the then young actor into a movie star. He didn’t end up doing “Old Time Rock & Roll,” but instead utterly thrilled the audience both in the studio and watching from home with the perfect choice of Meat Loaf’s epic “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” a song that truly begs for a lip sync performance and one I’m astounded no contestant has ever chosen before. The great thing about this performance from Cruise is he perfectly lip syncs both the male and female vocals from the song in rapid succession.
It was then topped off by Fallon inviting Cruise to do a lip sync duet on the Righteous Brothers’ classic “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” which memorably appeared in Cruise’s 1986 film “Top Gun.” The two performed the classic to an unsuspecting female guest in the front row of the audience who seemed shell-shocked by the Hollywood royalty in front of her.
The Lip Sync Battle truly needed some life thrust back into and it came in the somewhat surprising star power of Cruise, who you might think would view such a thing as beneath him, but absolutely owned every second of it. The problem with the Lip Sync Battles is that they honestly work better as a recurring segment on Fallon’s program than they do as a stand-alone 30-minute show that somewhat waters them down with lesser star power and performances.