The jig is up. It took less than 24 hours for news to break that Beyoncé’s striking live performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the inaugural ceremonies for President Barack Obama on Monday might have merely a lip-synced run-through of a track she recorded earlier.
The news is a shocker, considering the R&B queen is no stranger to big stages and annihilating them in real time. It’s important to note that she did sing the National Anthem at the 2004 Superbowl live (at least, we think she did).
Nevertheless, the response to today’s news has been swift and harsh. Fans that lauded her performance, right down to when she yanked the earpiece out of her left lobe, feel like they’ve been lied to. Like yesterday, Beyonce is currently a trending Twitter topic, but this time for all the wrong reasons.
“So, sincere question here, the pulling out of the earpiece was because the recorded version might throw off her lip-sync?” one Twitter user asked.
But the bigger idea and question to ask here is if whether Beyoncé lip-syncing is really such a big deal.
On one hand, no, it’s not. This isn’t a Milli Vanilli situation here and should not be treated as such. If Beyoncé did lip-sync, she was not mouthing over another woman’s voice. It was her… just maybe not her at that moment. She recorded herself singing the best version of what, presumably, she didn’t think she could do come show time. Was it the cold weather? Was it nerves? Only Queen B knows for sure.
Should she have wrecked an amazing ceremony because of an off key showing, for the selfish fact that singing live would earn her more respect than the possibility of people finding out that it was pre-recorded? Years from now, when critics and pundits look back at the best National Anthem efforts at inaugurations, Beyoncé will be likely be mentioned. She won’t be banned from The Hall of Awesome Inaugural Performances. Either way, it was her voice. She sold the hell out of it. And that’s alright.
But on the other hand…
It’s a big deal. In a musical feats of strength contest, the National Anthem is arguably one of the heaviest weights to lift. Artists ranging from the likes of Christina Aguilera to Steven Tyler to Roseanne Barr can vouch for that. It’s understandable that any artist who doesn’t think they could do it justice pre-record their performance.
Still, it’s the anthem. A song about the strength of its country should always be sung live to prove that very point over and over again — especially on a stage that is reinstating the nation’s leader. Not to mention that the leader is a man she’s supported since he decided to make his first term run.
At the Neighborhood Ball on Inauguration Day in 2009 Obama and wife Michelle shared their first dance as president and first lady to Beyoncé’s rendition of Etta James’ classic “At Last.” Last September Bey’ and hubby Jay-Z a hosted a $40,000-per-seat fundraiser at Jay’s 40/40 Club in New York City for his campaign. On the eve before election day last November, Beyoncé penned an open letter to Obama. “Everyday we see your heart and character, inspiring all of us to give more of ourselves,” she wrote. “You are the leader to take us from where we are to where we need to be.” Monday should have been a tremendous conclusion to a dream she, with her fame, love, and support, helped become a reality — twice! Unfortunately, speculation is that she phoned it in at a time when America expected, and needed it to be real.
It also doesn’t help that fellow pop star Kelly Clarkson, who performed “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” prior to Beyoncé hitting the stage, did so without the help of a backing track. There’s no telling how much Clarkson’s stock his risen or how much Bey’s has plummeted because of today’s accusations. Many are comparing the two and their singing abilities, now putting Kelly ahead a mile of Beyoncé, because she rose to the occasion yesterday. Hopefully many more know better.
Whether it was a last-second cold or nerves that got to her, it’s a shame to think Beyoncé might not have been up to the task.