Last Updated: October 4, 2020
Though I’ve sadly yet to see The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Emma’s Stone’s role as Gwen Stacy isn’t the only attention she’s been getting lately.
“It was all good just a week ago.”
— Jay-Z, A Week Ago (featuring Too $hort), The Life and Times of S. Carter, Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life (1998)
Unless you’ve lived under a rock this last bit, you’re likely one of the millions who saw an unexpectedly impressive display from Emma Stone’s appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon last week (watch to the end if you know what’s good for you!)
Despite both her songs being technically demanding, requiring speedy syllabic control and a ton of inflexion and lyrical complexity to memorize, Emma performed damn near flawlessly, surprising us with the tongue-twisting outro to Blues Traveler’s “Hook” and Ludacris’ blazing first verse from DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win”!
The question is — why do we love it so much?
The Art of the Lip Sync
Jimmy’s been at this for a while. In September, Joseph Gordon-Levitt impressed us back with an energetic rendition of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” (followed by Stephen Merchant’s equally hilarious and disturbing portrayal of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies”) and a surprising swagger-laden sync to Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” (booty poppin’ at no extra charge).
While fun, Paul Rudd couldn’t quite hold a flame some months later as he strut his stuff to Queen and did a Tina Turner piece — it was amusing, but the charm wasn’t quite there.
So what was it that made us rubberneck when we saw her vibrant performance of DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win”?
People might try to oversimplify it as a White girl doing a Black rapper’s song, but it runs deeper than that.
Let’s look at DJ Khaled and Ludacris in the music video below:
It’s nothing you wouldn’t expect from a rap video — posturing, posing, expensive cars and women with barely anything on. The artists stand tall1, showing how tough they are as they cover their parts. With DJ Khaled’s braggadocio and Ludacris’ rapid-fire delivery, this is the hip-hop you expect.
But with Emma, we took what we expected from a rap song…
…and turned it on its head.
No, what Emma did wasn’t just repackage a popular rap song like a low-grade sing-along — she put real emotion into it and made it her own.
1 Can’t be that tall, though — I’m just as tall as either of ’em!
All She Does is Win!!!
You can see it on Jimmy’s face as soon as Emma starts the verse — it’s game over. Her transition was seamless as she went from the emphatic head-banging chorus to capturing the crowd with an intense gaze when she synced a dozen syllables a second — she made it more than a simple game on late-night television… she made it a performance.
So really, what do we learn from this?
1) Jimmy Fallon’s Not Particularly Amazing at These Lip Sync Battles
Jimmy Fallon’s at his best when singing the happiest and most upbeat songs possible (see: A-Ha’s “Take On Me” and the secret’s he’s celebrating when singing Styx’s “Mr. Roboto”) — but he’s gotta move past simply pantomiming lyrics and actually get into the music: Emma proved that there’s more to lip-syncing than just knowing the words!
2) There’re a Lot of Haters on the Internet
If you bother reading the comments the videos for either of Emma’s song choices (don’t), you’ll see tons of hate on anyone who discovered either song through Emma’s lip-sync — especially “Hook” which came out two decades ago!
Internet — you’re doing it wrong.
When people discover the music you like, you should celebrate that others have found it and enjoy it too, not criticize them for not listening sooner.
Everyone discovers the things they like eventually — but it’s only through embracing them that we build community; by belittling them, no one wins.
3) I Only Wish I’d Watched it Sooner
I’d heard about the video as soon as it hit YouTube, but it took me days to check it out. It won’t catch on like Ylvis’ “The Fox” was last year or the ever-memorable “Gangnam Style” from the year before, but if it can get me to write an entire blog post on it, you know it’s gotta be good!
So here’s to great content. It’s hard enough to come by, but sometimes you find some gold out there on the Internet! It may not rain as plentifully as the cash you see above (thanks, DJ Khaled), but at least it shows us that we haven’t seen everything, and it’s up to us to keep creating more!
Think I’m on point? Make sure to let me know below!
Until the next time,