The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon’s 8 Best Lip Synching Battles


People do this at parties now. Have you ever been to one? Seriously, people do Lip Sync Battles. It’s such a common thing that we’ve capitalized the title as if it’s a real thing. If you remember back to the 1980s, there was a stellar show called Puttin’ On The Hits? The show was pretty bad, but Jimmy Fallon took the the idea and made gold from it by putting it back into The Tonight Show mix. Here are the eight best battles between Jimmy and his guests, based on individual, rather than group or episode.

8. Stephen Merchant

Stephen Merchant is a hilarious dude. A very funny man. And he is largely responsible for the fact that a show featuring lip sync battles is on the air. Stephen, John Krasinski and Emily Blunt kind of made the game the party favorite it has allegedly become. And Stephen brought the thunder with his first selection, “Boom, Shake The Room,” but his second selection, “Single Ladies” … totally passe. Sure, he gets points for busting out the moves, but in this episode, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was the star, and that’s why he’s a little higher on this list. Before moving on, we need to draw attention to Stephen the person vs. Stephen the lip-syncher. The eyes. Check out those eyes. When he’s synching, he is so in the zone it’s a little scary.

7. Kevin Hart

Kevin Hart and Will Farrell stopped by The Tonight Show together in order to promote Get Hard, and for the most part, both of their lip sync offerings were a little better than the movie itself. Kevin is such a wonderful ball of energy once someone lights his fuse, and he delivered very energetic performances, as to be expected; however, choosing a John Legend ballad to open? Word to any future lip sync battlers: never handcuff yourself to an emotional ballad. Leave room to go further with your second selection, but there’s only one chance to make a first impression. We’d be remiss not to mention Jimmy’s performance in this mix, too… totally cheating, and bringing Drew Barrymore onstage for a rendition of “Time Of My Life,” from Dirty Dancing. It was the real winner of the evening.

6. Will Farrell

Will Farrell being Will Farrell… it’s a multi million dollar jackpot. Will offered a little Beyonce, but brought it home with his second selection, going full-on musical theater with “Let It Go” from Frozen. Will danced, he frolicked and he brought glitter to bring his act to a close. That’s how you win over a crowd, and win a lip sync competition. To really bring it home, Will froze for an unnecessarily long amount of time… because… he was “frozen.” What we learned: it’s high time a Broadway producer commission a musical for Will Farrell. This could be done in any number of ways, but it needs to a show featuring a lot of choreography. Not one of those Jason Robert Brown musicals where people sing all the time.

5. Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise. Gasp and swoon. He’s still got it. The guy doesn’t seem to age. That really says something for doing your own stunts. Tom has easily been the biggest star to engage Jimmy Fallon in a lip sync battle, and yes, when he took the stage, they even offered a tease with Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Jimmy quickly put a button on that one. That’d melt the world. Instead, Tom went with The Weekend’s “Can’t Feel My Face,” and officially closed with a duet that Jimmy chose, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” by the Righteous Brothers. This, of course, was the Maverick and Goose jam in the 1986 classic, Top Gun. He and Jimmy opted to get the crowd involved, and went to a sweet, unassuming young woman in the first row. Everything that followed was icing on the cake.

4. Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres can move. She’s an wonder. It seems to be a quality possessed by a lot of people from New Orleans, Louisiana. Ellen knew what she was getting into when she engaged in the lip sync battle with Jimmy. Her only faux pas was going with the ballad to open. That stated, it was of the absurd variety, Diana Ross’ “Do You Know…” Ellen sat and delivered. Her second selection may very well be one of the best performances in battle history. She dropped “B**** Better Have My Money,” and you’d have thought she wrote the song. It’s worth noting, this particular competition was “judged” by Justin Timberlake. He, like the entire Roots Crew–and Jimmy–were floored with her final performance. And who else could pull it off?

3. Joseph Gordon-Levitt

JGL. As previously mentioned, Regular Joe was in the mix with Stephen Merchant. As good as Stephen and Jimmy were on this night, there was no matching the energy of Joe. He took a ballad–which, again, you never wanna do first–and made it electric. Imagine a punk band covering Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.” Joe was down on his knees, bopping around, tossing in a little head bang here and there… and it worked. There you have it. He’d already won the evening, then he closed with Nicki Minaj’s “Superbass,” in a move that could have been a little, “Meh,” but it’s JGL. This guy can move. He can dance. People best recognize. Highlight of the evening: you can tell he says “Hold me closer, Tony Danza,” during “Tiny Dancer.”

2. Emma Stone

Emma Stone is a rare bird. She’s about the size of a tree limb, and packed with the power of an AC/DC concert in the 1970s. There a few reasons she owns the #2 spot on this list. 1.) Her lyrical accuracy is astounding. 2.) She hammers her performance in four-inch heels. 3.) She’s  undeniably charming. Emma tossed out some very different offerings, going with a mid-1990s Blues Traveler hit in “Hook,” then following that with DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win,” feature Ludacris. And yes, her Ludacris flow is ludicrous. In the best of ways. Emma is one of the few females who have been bold enough to tackle the lip sync challenge on The Tonight Show. Several have ventured over to the cable program, but you get the benefit of costumes and such there.

1. Paul Rudd

Dang it. Paul Rudd is weird. And by weird, we’re complimenting him. The lip sync battles are obviously designed with comedy in mind, but sometimes, they’re just not funny. Fortunately, for those of us who have endured them all, there are those people who simply make you laugh. Paul is a perfect example. The only stink about his lip sync battle performances is that they seemed short on time. He didn’t even really have the opportunity to get going in “Don’t Stop Me Now,” by Queen. They let him ramp up, and then kind of cut him off abruptly. Yes, between the beginning and end, there was pure magic in the mix, and the random nature of the magic suggests that it might have even been miraculous. As stated: Paul Rudd = Weird. Weird = Spiritual/Uncanny. Miraculous.


James Sheldon