Sarah Hyland’s been having this effect on musical people lately: She meets them, they ask her to collaborate.
It’s the reason the Modern Family actress dazzled on her recent viral cover of The Chainsmokers‘ hit “Closer” with Boyce Avenue, and the reason she’s hosting spinoff special Lip Sync Battle Shorties, which airs Sunday (Dec. 11) on Nickelodeon with a repeat performance on Dec. 14 on Spike. Check out a special preview of it — featuring a ridiculous LMFAO dance breakdown — exclusively on Billboard below.
“I’m assuming the word ‘shortie’ is what made them think of me,” jokes Hyland, who recently taped an episode as a contestant for the current third season of the Spike show. “I did an episode… and a week later they asked me if I’d host Lip Sync Battle Shorties,” she tells Billboard.
Formatted like the adult version, the spinoff features regular kids lip-syncing to popular songs. The special will feature a surprise guest, with whom Hyland will do a little dance at the end of the show. “I think people will find it hilarious,” she says.
And about that Chainsmokers cover… “Over 20 million views?! I’m still in shock,” Hyland says. “I was so nervous because even though I’ve been singing my entire life, the general public doesn’t really know. I do little things with singing all the time, I guess it’s just never reached a viral level like this.” Prior to the “Closer” cover, Hyland appeared alongside Kristen Bell in the musical Hair at Hollywood Bowl in 2014.
Hyland says she’s been a huge Boyce fan for almost a decade. “This past year, as a belated one-year anniversary celebration, my boyfriend and I went and saw them perform in London. The show was practically sold out so I reached out to them over social media to see if they could do us a favor and get tickets. They responded and invited us backstage after the show to meet them.”
That was in March. In October the band reached out asking if Hyland wanted to do a collaboration “because they heard a rumor that I sang,” she says. “It caught me very off guard but I was so stoked, especially that they wanted to cover ‘Closer.’ I love the song and Halsey is one of my favorite current female artists.”
Hyland — who started taking vocal lessons at age five — duets with Boyce Avenue on another song, Maroon 5’s “Don’t Want To Know,” on the band’s new Cover Collaborations EP.
“I used to train to be a [operatic] coloratura soprano, but I got too busy with work to continue training,” she says. “I dabble in piano and I’m horrible at the guitar, which I’m desperately trying to learn. I’ve always said the only instrument I know how to play are my vocal cords but I’m hoping to fix that.”
Are there other music projects in her future? “I may or may not have another something in the works,” she hints. For now, she’s eager to bring the Lip Sync vibe to a younger generation. “I’m excited for people to see these kids. They’re insane!”
“It was awesome to see the number of people who watched Spike’s Lip Sync Battle together as a family,” series co-creator Casey Patterson of Casey Patterson Entertainment tells Billboard. “Kids watch our clips over and over online, and now use the Lip Sync Battle app to create their own videos. We fell in love with the idea of giving the show over to kids and allowing them to be in charge of the creative process.”
Hyland’s all-time favorite Lip Sync match-up? “I will forever love the Jenna and Channing battle on the show. Just… the most epic.”