Rembert Explains the ’80s: Puttin’ on the Hits

Welcome back to our series Rembert Explains the ’80s. Every so often, we’ll e-mail 25-year-old Rembert Browne a video from the 1980s that he hasn’t seen. Rembert will write down his thoughts as he’s watching it, then we’ll post those thoughts here. This week’s installment was selected by Grantland reader Steve Patton: Puttin’ on the Hits. If you have an idea for a future episode of Rembert Explains the ’80s, e-mail us at

0:03 Who on earth are you?

How do we even describe that haircut? It’s shaggy in the back, bangy in the front, but interestingly enough, not a mullet. Also, I see you, big man in the back, trying to figure out that haircut too. White suite/red bow tie/red boutonniere? Did shaggy bangs just crash my dude’s prom? I should probably let this video get past three seconds …

0:08 Shaggy bangs just introduced another guy. And then they started playing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” What is this?

0:11 Oh my.

Well, this will be good. Also, who knew “Lion Sleeps Tonight” was by The Tokens? Could have sworn it was simply a song on Ace Ventura’s “get some” mix.

If Brad Cunningham brings out Courteney Cox, I’ll die. I should probably let this video get past 13 seconds …

0:18 What is happening? This is public access, right? Or is this the alternative to bingo night at the convalescent home? I need some answers.

0:19 I think he’s about to do a ventriloquist act. This is about to get perfect.

0:22 Just heard the studio audience laugh. Unclear why. Also, know that by “studio audience” I mean “cafeteria.”

0:24 And here we go:

0:28 Just realized he’s lip-synching. Why is he lip-synching? Is this an old variety show?

0:34 Wait a minute …

So it’s clear this is a show. A contest, if you will. I’m not ready to completely admit that this could be a lip-synching contest, but it’s starting to look that way. But there’s no chance that insane idea ever actually got off the ground, right? Right?

0:40 Oh my goodness, his little furry friend around his neck is his background lip-syncher.

This is 100 percent lip-synched Duets. I cannot believe this. Is this America? There’s no way this went down in the contiguous 48. No way.

0:51 He’s not even good at pretending he’s singing. All his power is in this monkey around his neck, which, I must say, is doing a phenomenal job.

0:54 This is someone’s dad. Ha.

1:00 This dude and this monkey are imaginary harmonizing. Because I haven’t the slightest clue who the competition is in this sad, sad contest, I can’t tell if this is the best or worst performance ever. With that said, I’m guessing his monkey prop is helping his case. The monkey, and that mustache.


I want to know everything about the people picked to be lip-synching contest judges. They must be famous, right? Is that the rule of reality judges? Maybe this is England. Or Canada, even. This girl is not America-famous. No chance.

1:12 My dude has completely fallen in love with his furry friend.

Bedroom eyes, those are.

1:17 He pretend-sang “hush, my darling” and then this happened:

Interesting. That’s all.


He’s clapping. He’s loving this. Again, further proof that this isn’t America.

1:33 Just as a reminder: This is an entire show centered around lip-synching. I just can’t let you, or myself, forget that.

1:47 Final creepy pose.

Stuck the landing.

1:49 Unreal. The crowd is going wild.

1:53 “Welcome to the United States from Canada.”

I was so right, but so wrong about everything. I’m appalled that this was a show in America. And then, to add insult to injury, I’m embarrassed that this Canadian has just rolled into our land and dominated the competition. This must have been horrible for our morale. It’s like when Bieber made Jesse McCartney completely irrelevant in a matter of minutes. So not cool.

1:58 He’s the first contestant from Canada. I need more proof that he’s also not simply the first contestant.


2:14 First category:

Seems bad, but wouldn’t you know it, the scale is out of 30. PERFECT SCORE.

2:18 Category 2:

28/30. Not bad. Also, these categories are amazing. “Originality” and “Appearance” couldn’t be any cuter. They’re like the “hustle award” of reality show grading scales. Five bucks says the last category is “whimsy.”

2:21 Category 3:

Oh yeah. That. Wait, why does this add up to 90? Nothing just adds up to 90. Is there a 10-point category, for “WHIMSY,” perhaps?

2:25 Really? That’s it? I’m more insulted that the scores add up to a maximum of 90 than that a show existed about lip-synching. Our country is founded on two numbers: 100 and 60. Anything else is rude, preposterous, and, if I may say, fascist.

2:34 Shame on you, Puttin’ on the Hits. I hope everyone involved got deported following this episode and was forced to live with Brad Cunningham and his collection of sassy, talented monkey harmonizers. Shame on you.

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Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

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