Recently in my ears
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Some musicians like to play music - it's strange, I know - even when they're being televised. How to respond to television productions that would rather have a prerecorded track that is to be mimed-along with? If you're The Clash, you just plain refuse to play the game. Others have a bit of fun with it.
One of my favorites is Nirvana, from their 1991 performance on Top Of The Pops. Kurt supplements the mockery with the one part of the performance that actually is live by aping Morrisey's style and altering the lyrics.
Muse have a habit of doing this sort of thing whenever possible. This Italian show, Quelli Che Il Calcio, didn't even go to the trouble of having them re-record the song - it's the album version.
Here's a just slightly less subtle one from them.
In PiL's appearance on American Bandstand, Johnny Lydon occasionally goes to the trouble of putting the microphone near his face, but doesn't seem to care too much about opening his mouth when his voice is supposed to out. The video tends to get pulled from the regular streaming video services, but can be downloaded from WFMU's Beware Of The Blog:
Here's Iron Maiden screwing around on German television.
In this Faces appearance on TotP, featuring John Peel pretending to play the mandolin, a "footie" match breaks out.
If you look around, you can find a number of clips of The Cure on Top Of The Pops, in which Robert Smith is being intentionally lazy about it but at least going through the motions; though there's one storied performance in which he is wearing his guitar backward (strings facing his body) and strumming it. There's also an interesting performance of John Cougar (not yet Mellencamp) performing "I Need A Lover" on the January 5th 1980 episode of American Bandstand.
Got any more like this? I'm not talking about badly mimed or lip-synched performances, but ones that intentionally break the intended illusion of a live show.
This may be the greatest song ever recorded (at least for today).
It's called "off Road" - you can find it and mildly odder tracks on United Future Organization's self titled 1994 album at a significantly more listenable sample rate.