Stephen Merchant – co-creator of Spike’s Lip Sync Battle and a self-proclaimed “veteran of the game” – realized he had to ramp up the sex appeal to defeat Malin Akerman in this week’s episode. “If you wanna stay in this game, give the people what they want,” he says in the above clip, moments after performing Christina Aguilera’s 2002 hit “Dirrty.”
Modeling his moves after the singer’s music video choreography, Merchant – wearing a British flag crop top and leather chaps with “NASTY” written on the ass – begins the segment in a cage, employing a fierce amount of sassiness as he mimes the lines. (Check out his hilarious, sarcastic expression during “Bet you somebody’s gonna call the cops.”)
Akerman’s take on Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty” is more traditional – but features a similar amount of leather. The actress acts out the song with a crew of back-up dancers, channeling the singer’s bravado with a couple well-timed crotch grabs. “Damn, I like your style,” says host LL Cool J after the performance. “It’s like you jumped in my closet or something!”
The competitors scale back the theatrics during the first round. Akerman delivers a passionate version of Def Leppard’s classic rock staple “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” throwing out some kicks and tossing the mic stand midway through. (Afterward, Merchant grants her request by pouring some actual sugar on her.)
Merchant takes a more intimate approach with his version of Enrique Iglesias’ gentle pop ballad “Hero,” nailing the subtleties of the spoken-word intro and adding hand gestures to every line. The animated actor peaks during the chorus, delivering his version with his trademark wide and creepy eye movements.