Taking into account that the rules can always change, what will happen this year with the pre-recorded backing vocals that the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has allowed since 2021?
The answer appears to be that they will remain once again according to the recently uploaded rules for the upcoming contest. Fans will remember that pre-recorded backing vocals were allowed for the 2021 contest in Rotterdam in order to “reduce the technical burdens on the Host Broadcaster” and make contest preparations easier for the artists. Because this rule change was so effective the previous year, the EBU decided to retain it for the 2022 contest in Turin. These changes remain as part of the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest.
But while pre-recorded backing vocals will be allowed again this year, one important edit was made – the lead singer is not allowed to lip-sync by any means. More specifically the rules state that: “No on-stage Contestant (whether Lead Vocals, Lead Dubs or Backing Vocals or dancers) shall be allowed to lip-sync (playback) in such a way as to make it appear that they are singing all or most of the song when they actually are not.”
Is lipsyncing really an issue at Eurovision?
This rule change may be confusing to Eurovision fans, who know that artists are required to sing live during the live shows. And while this is true, some countries have used pre-recorded backing vocals in their favor to cover up vocal blunders or add vocal rests into their performances. Moldova’s Natalia Gordienko provides the most obvious instance of this practice when she dropped her microphone during the live Grand Final, exposing her own voice as the dub vocal on the backing track. Croatia’s Albina also did this in Rotterdam for her song “Tick-Tock” to create a unique vocal mix during the live show.
To date there have been no proven instances of lipyncing at the Eurovision Song Contest, but the EBU’s proposed rule change will ensure that artists cannot abuse their pre-recorded backing tracks to get out of a hard to reach note, or take a vocal break during the performance. To enfore this, the final paragraph reads that: “the Backing track in question shall not contain (i) Lead Vocals, (ii) Lead Dubs and/or (iii) any other vocals that would have the effect of, or aim at, replacing or unduly assisting the Lead Vocal(s) during the live performance on stage.”
To ensure this happens, the EBU has declared that all dub vocals (also known as vocalists supporting the lead singer) must occur live on or off stage for the 2023 contest. The rules go on to state that the Host Broadcaster and the ESC Executive Supervisor shall verify respect for this rule.