Jimmy Fallon’s Lip Sync Battle, a Spike spinoff of The Tonight Show‘s wildly popular segment where celebrities mime along to popular hits, premiered Thursday night with an epic showdown between Fallon and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. At stake: The championship LSB belt.
The Rock, fresh off his fantastic turn as SNL host, opened things up with a spirited, albeit ridiculous, rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Up,” which Fallon followed with an unexpected choice: Harry Belafonte’s calypso classic “Jump in the Line” (AKA the song that closes Beetlejuice). However, it was the final round where the battle hit its stride.
For his final “performance” of the night, Fallon opted for Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.” Fallon kept it simple at first, solemnly skulking around the stage as Madonna sang the unaccompanied opening verses. However, when the background vocals kicked in on the 1989 single, a parade of robe-wearing choir members joined Fallon onstage to “sing” the rest of the track.
Not to be outdone, Johnson’s last performance of the night found the Furious 7 star delivering a “Stayin’ Alive” that mimicked John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever dance moves, right down to Tony Manero’s famed white flared disco suit. In the end, model Chrissy Teigen, the show’s co-host and “bartender,” awarded the championship belt to the Rock’s knockout Bee Gees lip sync.
Thursday night marked the debut episode of Lip Sync Battle, which found “Glory” duet partners Common and John Legend also entering the ring for their own celebrity breath match. Common donned a wig and black leather pants to perform Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long,” while Legend channeled MC Hammer for the ubiquitous pop-rap hit “U Can’t Touch This.”