The Garth Brooks Lip Syncing Controversy Explained

Garth Brooks is one of the most famous names in country music, and rightfully so. He is the only country artist with songs on the Billboard Hot Country Songs "in each decade between the '80s and the '20s," according to Billboard. Additionally, he's taken home quite a few awards over the course of his career. In 2020 alone, he earned his ninth Diamond Award from the RIAA for his fifth studio album, In Pieces. (FYI: an album needs to sell 10 million copies to earn the honor.) He was also presented with the Icon Award at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards and was nominated once again for the CMA Entertainer of the Year award.

Brooks made headlines when he removed himself from the running of CMA Entertainer of the Year in 2020, a category he had won seven times at the time. In a press conference held remotely, the "Dive Bar" singer said he knew people were unhappy about the nomination, adding that he saw a tweet that suggested he step back to let someone else win. "So with all the love in the world, all the gratefulness — because the last thing I wanted to do is seem ungrateful to the CMAs and everybody that has voted for us — we are officially pulling ourselves out of entertainer of the year," he announced (via Variety).

Being such an acclaimed and seemingly down-to-earth-singer, it was surprising, then, to learn that Brooks had lip synced during the 2017 CMA Awards. Here is the Garth Brooks lip syncing controversy explained.

Garth Brooks upset viewers when he lip synced at the CMA Awards

Garth Brooks, who was the 2017 CMA Entertainer of the Year, was caught lip syncing during the award show that gave him the title, and fans were not impressed. "Garth Brooks is lip syncing. Not what entertainers of the year do," one viewer tweeted. Another passionate country music fan posted that seeing Brooks lip sync ruined her "whole life."

Furthermore, fellow country singer Eric Church was beyond disappointed and did not sugarcoat his feelings when he talked about the ordeal in an interview with Rolling Stone. "So the winner of the biggest category of the night lip-synced in the biggest moment on the show?" Church questioned. "F**k that! And I didn't like his excuse at all." Despite the public outrage, Brooks was seemingly quick to defend his lip synching. In fact, he even said he would do it again.

Garth Brooks defended his decision to lip sync at the CMA Awards

Immediately after his performance of "Ask Me How I Know" at the CMA Awards, Garth Brooks told the press that lip syncing was a last-minute decision. "We're in the middle of 12 shows in 10 days," he said (Country Fancast). "The voice just isn't there anymore, and you want to represent country music as best you can."

Eric Church, on the other hand, told Rolling Stone that lip syncing is the worst thing a singer could do. "It is and always will be a red line. It's fabricated. I don't want young artists thinking it's OK, because it's not," he slammed.

Brooks took the chance to defend his decision again in a later interview with the Associated Press. After explaining how busy his tour schedule was, the Grammy winner said, "I don't think it's any secret some people have a different opinion. Knowing now what I knew then, even after all this crap, if it happened the same way again next week, I'd do lip syncing again." Well, there you have it.