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Lip Sync Battle: The story behind those musical cameos

How Gigi Hadid came to perform with two-fifths of The Backstreet Boys, and how the Spike series landed that coveted Beyoncé cameo

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Spike TV

When Lip Sync Battle began as a segment on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, no one could’ve predicted that it would one day evolve into its own show, nor that it would become such a viral success. Not only does the Spike variety show feature huge A-list celebrities like Anne Hathaway riding on a wrecking ball à la Miley Cyrus, but as hype surrounding the series ramps up each week, it’s now common for celebs to step up their game by bringing big-name cameos to the party. And it’s the job of Lip Sync Battle producers to facilitate their guests’ big dreams.

“We would love to take credit but these are world-class, fantastic performers producing themselves. And I think that’s what the fans love,” executive producer Casey Patteron tells EW. “When Anne got on the wrecking ball, that was all her. Hands down, every time, people come to that phone call ready, knowing exactly what they want to do and they’re on fire about it. We don’t really get in the way of the talent’s creative process.”

And when it comes to musicians performing alongside a celeb, Patterson says the same rules apply: It’s almost always the celeb’s idea. Most recently, the Backstreet Boys accompanied Gigi Hadid on stage, which was an idea that the Hadid herself brought to the table. And perhaps most notably, Beyoncé joined Channing Tatum to perform “Run the World (Girls),” which Patterson says was a team effort. 

We don’t present people with a karaoke book. We ask them what their favorite songs of all time are and who their favorite artists are. Whatever song they want, we then go try and clear,” Pattersons says. “It’s a very difficult way to do the show but I think that’s what pays off onscreen. They love these songs; they know the songs and they own them.”

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It probably comes as no surprise that Beyoncé is one of the show’s most requested artists. And as Patterson explains, with every request, Lip Sync Battle has to reach out to Queen Bey herself to clear the use of her music. That process led to a number of talks about how to secure her involvement, whether it be through a Beyoncé-themed night or in a cameo. But it wasn’t until Tatum got involved that it all came together.

“He’s irresistible,” Patterson says. “He’s so talented. If he’s going to do the choreography, you know he’s going to nail it and it will be unbelievable. He was just so devoted to it. He was in it. He went method,” she says with a laugh. 

“We all gathered around and we pitched it to her but Channing jumped in and asked her personally. I think at some point he made a little video for her of his rehearsal just letting her know he was going to crush it.”

And when it came time to tape the show, Patterson says Beyoncé called the night before to say she was coming, meaning Tatum met her for the first time on stage, in costume. “There was a moment where he forgot to dance,” Patterson says, laughing. 

In the end, it comes down to the fact that celebrities can be fans, too. “They already know all the words, so being able to come out and do that and potentially perform with the artists that they love, there’s definitely some wish fulfillment involved in the show, too. You get to play! And Channing can say, ‘I want a horse and I’d love for Beyoncé to come,’ and we’re just like, ‘Yes to everything! Let’s do it.'”