Garth Brooks was Lip Syncing at the 2017 CMA Awards

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UPDATE: Garth Brooks has since admitted he was lip syncing at the 2017 CMA Awards.

Backstage he told reporters, “We made a game time call on whether to sing to a track or lip sync. And we decided to lip sync it. We decided to lip-sync it because my voice was just not there, and we wanted to represent country music the best we can.”

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From a commercial standpoint, there has never been a bigger artist in the history of country music than Garth Brooks. And in country music, there is no bigger honor than the CMA’s Entertainer of the Year. Though Garth’s post-retirement run has been choppy when it comes to sales and chart performance, he’s clearly the king of the road and the live performance, raking in oodles of cash as he’s criss crossed the country and world over the last three years, sometimes selling out four or five consecutive shows in the same arena as throngs flock to see him. And that’s the reason he walked away with the 2017 Entertainer of the Year award from the CMA, which has basically become a touring accolade in the last few years.

But what an embarrassing moment for the CMAs, country music, and Garth, since he was so very clearly lip syncing his performance Wednesday night (11-8). Social media exploded, especially after a moment where Garth was clearly facing away from the mic, but the lyrics kept rolling. Sometimes a lip sync can be hard to spy, but Garth made it pretty damn easy, and a slam dunk case. Garth was performing his current single “Ask Me How I Know.”

Furthermore, we know Garth is willing to lip sync. In April of 2015 ahead of the 50th Annual ACM awards, Garth spilled the beans that he would be willing to mime to a backing track if he felt that would be best.

“Just in case we have to lip-sync, we taped a performance that was solely made for the awards show,” Garth revealed on a SiriusXM The Highway Town Hall. “So we don’t know if we’re lip-syncing or not, but my bet is, if I know Portland, we’re not going to get out of here with anything. And then you’ve got to fly down and do that show immediately. So we’ll see how that’s going to go.”

This was after the year previous, Rascal Flatts stirred controversy by blowing a lip sync performance at the ACMs. It didn’t appear that Garth lip synced his 2015 ACM performance.

Nobody should be shocked that lip syncing occurs on awards shows, or country award shows specifically. But it is a shame that it had to happen when Garth received the biggest distinction of the night, and after Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, and others turned in such stellar live performances. Country music has always been about authenticity, and this wasn’t Garth’s best moment.