Even though he’s been master of ceremonies at the Grammys, LL Cool J calls his Lip Sync Battle gig his most fun hosting gig yet.
“The Grammys is a very serious award show,” LL tells EW. “[Lip Sync Battle] is like, I came with some of my friends to your house and we’re standing around in your living room having a ball.”
Premiering on Spike Thursday at 10 p.m., Lip Sync Battle—inspired by the Late Night With Jimmy Fallon segment—pits two celebrities against each other in a two-round lip sync faceoff.
“The first round is pure lip sync, kind of stripped down,” LL explains. “The second round, they can do the concert of their dreams. The sky’s the limit.”
The celebrities pick their own songs, and according to LL, some of their selections may shock viewers. “[Co-executive producer] John Krasinski’s choices were crazy,” he says. “Hoda Kotb—she’s going to surprise people.”
Supermodel Chrissy Teigen offers color commentary—”Chrissy’s the best!” the host says —and the audience determines the night’s winner based on their cheering.
Thursday’s special back-to-back episodes feature Dwayne Johnson taking on co-executive producer Jimmy Fallon, and Common battling Teigen’s husband, John Legend.
While celebrities with experience onstage might seem to have the advantage, LL says the playing field is actually pretty level when it comes to lip-syncing.
“All of these people are talented in their own right,” LL says. “It really is in the moment. With Queen Latifiah against Marlon Wayons, she’s used to performing a little more, but it doesn’t matter because he’s so funny.”
Other battles on the horizon include Anne Hathaway vs. Emily Blunt, Derek Hough vs. Julianne Hough, and Terry Crews vs. Mike Tyson.
“I enjoyed everybody. But personally, [I liked] seeing Mike Tyson do what he did,” LL says of the boxer’s “Push It” performance.
Salt-N-Pepa will actually go head-to-head in a May episode of the show, and Justin Bieber, Iggy Azalea and Andy Cohen are slated to appear on Battle this summer.
“It’s a lot of fun. You see these superstars being super serious about being super silly,” LL says. “Nobody’s there like ‘I’m too cool to do this.’”
And while LL invites all of Hollywood to come down and perform on the show, the NCIS: Los Angeles actor has some names in mind for future Battle participants.
“Tom Cruise can come have some fun,” LL says. “Or Will Smith.”