Ranking the best lip syncing performances on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon

I’m a big fan of song and dance. The painful irony is I’m not very good at either. The highlight of my dancing career was a second place finish in the Waltz competition during my ballroom dancing final in college. There’s been no highlight to my singing career only drunken lowlights. But throughout all this I have always maintained a deep and profound respect for those who know how to boogie. I would kill for one opportunity to rock out in front of a crowd of people to a Prince song or the humpty dance.

But since this is America, I’ll have to do like most people and live vicariously through celebrities. This is how I came to be a big fan of Jimmy Fallon’s lip syncing battles on the Tonight Show. He’s hosted about five of them now with tons of different celebrities including Emma Stone, Steven Merchant, Gwen Stefani, Blake Shelton, John Krasinski, Paul Rudd, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and most recently Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell. The battles were actually the idea of Krasinksi and Merchant and have become so popular that they are now getting their own spinoff TV show (aptly titled Lip Sync Battles) which will premiere later this year.

The point of these battles is obviously comedy, but for me they became much more interesting. Imagining that I might one day find myself in a heated lip sync battle, I began to observe each performance and analyze all the moves and gestures that made each performance work (or not work). Since I have already wasted enough time watching these battles, I figured I might as well just get it all out right here and rank my favorite performances.


  • Fallon allows each celebrity to sing two songs each. But we will only judge the performance of each individual song rather than each celebrity’s entire body of work.
  • Song choice matters.
  • Its not just about how well the person lip syncs. Its all about the believability of the performance and if it actually looks like they are the one singing the song. Therefore all gestures and subtle nuances that compliment the lip syncing will be taken into account and weighed heavily towards the overall performance.
  • Jimmy Fallon’s performances don’t count because they suck (but I have much respect for him for hosting the competition).


Emma Stone gives two totally respectable performances in her head-to-head with Fallon, but singing DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” seemed like a cop out. I want more original song selection in my lip sync battles. Kevin Hart performed with Will Ferrell in the latest Lip Sync battle this past weekend, but it seemed like he was more concerned with pumping up the crowd in his performances than doing accurate lip syncing. I have no tolerance for prestige lip syncing. I couldn’t find any good video of John Krasinski’s lip sync battle on the internet so he’s outta luck. Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton didn’t make the cut because they’re about as funny as a school bus fire.

5. Will Ferrell lip syncs “Drunken Love” by Beyonce:

(ends at 2:05) 

Ferrell does not do a great job of lip syncing the lyrics, but the juxtaposition of a middle aged white comedian crawling on the floor like a tigress in the throws of passion works to hilarious effect. Ferrell pulls out the five spot for his confident song choice and understated dance moves.

4. Steven Merchant lip syncs “Single Ladies” by Beyonce:

(ends at 6:26)

There is something about big white guys doing Beyonce that I find extremely entertaining. Steven Merchant is tall with gangly legs yet he moves with incredible grace throughout the song. You can tell that this is not the first time he has lip synced Single Ladies. The drop-the-mic moment was when he did the downward fist pump leg kick thing from the original music video. Merchant claims the number four spot for his accurate lip syncing and for cutting up the damn rug.

3. Paul Rudd lip syncs “You Better Be Good To Me” by Tina Turner:

(ends at 2:12)

Paul Rudd actually looks like he is the one singing this song. He is not even a millisecond off with his gestures. He knows this song inside and out and he owns it throughout the entire performance. Rudd claims three because of his originality in song choice and the uncanny timeliness of his gesticulations.

2. Joseph Gordon-Levitt lip syncs “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj:

(ends at 9:21)

Gordon-Levitt’s performance brought the house down. Lip syncers dream of that one performance where they can rise above the competition and distort reality between who actually sings Super Bass and who is singing it now. Gordon-Levitt becomes Nicki Minaj incarnate for a brief and glorious one minute and eight seconds. He claims the number two spot for transcending time and space.

NUMBAH ONE: Paul Rudd lip syncs “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen:

(ends at 5:34)

I love this song and I love Rudd’s performance. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have stood in front of the mirror with this song playing and tried to mimic his routine. It can’t be done. Rudd combines spot on lip syncing with the perfect (and only as far as I’m concerned) way to dance to Don’t Stop Me Now. The moment he stepped off that stage he stepped into the history books as lip syncing’s GOAT. Paul Rudd is a national treasure.

That’s it. The definitive list of the greatest lip syncing performances ever on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Now if anybody wants to start a lip syncing club with me and give Paul Rudd a run for his money I am all ears. If you disagree with my rankings and want to have a lively lip syncing debate I would consider it an honor. Leave your thoughts in the comments.







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