Justin Guarini Spurs ‘American Idol’ Lip-Synch Scandal!

Never mind AIG—the real scandal of the day comes courtesy of AI.

The New York Times reports that American Idol producers admit—sort of, and reluctantly—that some of the group numbers on American Idol are aided by pre-recorded vocal tracks.

The semi-confession came after American Idol Season One contestant Justin Guarini—who currently co-hosts the TV Guide Network’s Idol Wrap—noted on last week’s episode that the most recent group performance, “Trouble,” appeared to employ lip-synching.

“Every single year we can’t stand the group performances,” Guarini noted. “I know they can’t stand it either. And I think what makes them even worse now is that they’re lip-synched. They’re really prerecorded now.”

Which prompted a quick denial—and equally swift back-pedal—from the show’s producers. 

“The Idols don’t lip-sync, period,” claimed Manfred Westphal, a spokesman for FremantleMedia North America, in a statement on Tuesday.

The next day, Westphal changed his tune, presumably without the use of a prerecorded vocal track.

“Due to extensive choreography and to balance their voices with open mikes against a screaming audience, the Idols do sing along to their own prerecorded vocal track during the group performances only,” Westphal clarified in an e-mail Wednesday.

He went on to assert that the solo performances are never prerecorded.

If the performers are singing along accompanied by their own prerecorded tracks, the argument could be made that they’re not technically lip-synching. But they’re definitely getting a big assist that hadn’t previously been publicly disclosed.

As for Guarini, he sympathizes with the contestants, whether they’re getting a prerecorded helping hand or not.

“It’s almost torture to watch the contestants sing and dance like they don’t have a care in the world when in fact they’re sweating bullets,” Guarini says.

Readers, have your say: Does the lip-synching controversy affect your opinion of American Idol?