Singer walks off stage on live TV.
A little clandestine vocal help employed by Ashlee Simpson may have been exposed over the weekend when a "Saturday Night Live" audience heard her voice -- singing the wrong song -- while she held a microphone at her waist.
Her record company blamed a computer glitch and she blamed her band for the incident, which cut off her planned performance of the song "Autobiography" on the NBC variety show.
Simpson had performed her single "Pieces of Me," from her Geffen album of the same name, without incident earlier in the show. When she returned for her second number, her band started playing and the first lines of her singing "Pieces of Me" could be heard again.
She looked momentarily confused as the band plowed ahead with the song and the pre-recorded vocal was quickly silenced. Simpson made some exaggerated hopping dance moves, then walked off the stage 35 seconds into the performance. NBC quickly cut to a commercial.
"What can I say?" guest host Jude Law said with Simpson standing next to him at the end of the show. "Live TV."
"Exactly," Simpson said. "I feel so bad. My band started playing the wrong song. I didn't know what to do so I thought I'd do a hoe-down."
Geffen Records blamed the incident on a computer glitch. Instead of some pre-taped electronic percussion, the recording of "Pieces of Me" started mistakenly performing, according to a statement.
But it sounded suspiciously like a guide vocal that's a common -- although almost always unspoken -- concert aid. Either the singer lip synchs by mouthing words to pre-recorded backing or has a live microphone and sings along, making the voice sound more powerful than it is.
Such vocal tricks have been used before by entertainers on "SNL," according to a show insider who spoke on condition of anonymity. A Geffen spokeswoman did not immediately return a call for comment.
Simpson's walk-off joins the lore of other unexpected music moments on the 30-year-old series. Interestingly two of the most notorious also occurred during the artists' second performance in an episode.
In 1977, Elvis Costello stopped his performance of "Less Than Zero" as his second selection and kicked the Attractions into "Radio Radio," which resulted in his being banned from the show for years. In 1992, Sinead O'Connor delivered an a capella version of Bob Marley's "War" and ended her performance by saying "Fight the real enemy" and tearing up a picture of Pope John Paul II.
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