It seems as though the biggest controversy in this new year isn’t politics or the economy but whether or not Beyonce lip synced the National Anthem at President Obama’s second inauguration. Commentators and “news” reporters have been discussing this for nearly two weeks now. Reactions range from disappointment to surprise to what does it matter. Does it matter?
Anyone who sings – from opera stars to the kids in the high school chorus – will tell you that cold weather is very bad for the voice. When you make your living, and in Beyonce’s case your fortune, from that voice you have to be very careful that you don’t hurt what is probably the most delicate musical instrument. Both Aretha Franklin – who sang at Obama’s first inauguration under horrible vocal conditions – and Jennifer Lopez have come out in support of Beyonce though the singer herself has not made any “official” statement on the subject.
She is certainly not the only “live” performer who has not performed live at the always outside in the cold event – Yo Yo Ma pretended to play his cello. Must be said, it is easy to replace a cello string but vocal chords cannot be replaced. And the inauguration is not the only “live” event that isn’t really live at all. So, why not just admit it? Why not just bill the act as “so and so presenting a recorded version of” such and such a song? Why fake the facts in addition to the performance?
Supporters of the decision to lip sync rather than actually sing at the event say things like “it was her voice” or “it really was her singing” and that surely is the case. But was that recording really Beyonce singing our National Anthem from beginning to end? Hardly. No leading pop singer is going to lip sync to a less that stellar version of any song. That was her voice but how many versions of the anthem are included in that recording? Modern music is mixed and edited and tweaked to the point where many popular signers cannot actually sing in person as good as they seem to be singing on recordings.
And if this is going to be the norm then why the mikes? Why even pretend when we all will find out you weren’t singing anyway? Why have bands and leading performers pretend to sing their songs at live events like the Super Bowl? If not quite the real thing is going to be accepted, admit it.
Interesting that Kelly Clarkson sang live. And the reaction to her performance was pretty special – just look at Senator Schumer’s reaction. Kind of makes you wonder, would it have been so bad to sing the national anthem for real? I have no doubt what so ever that Beyonce can belt out a terrific performance of the song that most mortals cannot sing. But knowing that she didn’t sing at the inauguration kind of ruins the “performance” for me. I was thrilled when I first heard her, but now I am disappointed cause what seemed like a great moment was nothing more than a great fake.