What’s the deal with everyone feigning outrage at the revelation Beyonce didn’t sing the national anthem live at yesterday’s inauguration? Is it just because she really played it up and pulled her earpiece out mid-song, giving the appearance that her vocal pipes don’t need any technological assistance? Is it because “The Star-Spangled Banner” is too hallowed to fake like that?
Sure, it would be nice if our favorite performers didn’t lipsynch. That ship sailed many years ago, though. Everyone fakes their performances these days. Heck, “The Star-Spangled Banner” probably holds the record for being the song most lipsynched. Pretending to sing live is simply the industry standard and no one involved in the production of live music questions it anymore. It’s time for the audience to make peace with that fact, too.
Do you really think a high-profile event like the presidential inauguration is going to leave anything to chance? I’m not talking about Beyonce going rogue and pulling a Lupe Fiasco, I’m talking about a malfunctioning microphone, cable or audio mixer. I’m talking about a gust of wind creating microphone feedback or a voice cracking. One tiny error and that’s all everyone on Twitter would be talking about. It’s not worth the risk.
The New York Post interviewed Kristin DuBois, a representative for the United States Marine Band, and she was frank about how commonplace lipsynching is:
“All music is pre-recorded for the ceremony because there are so many eventualities and conditions that day,” she said. “We performed, live, the band. But we received last-minute word that Beyonce was going to use the pre-recorded vocal track. Those were the instructions we were given. We don’t know what the (sic) reason why.”
In two weeks, Beyonce is set to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show, so that gives us all plenty of time to discuss whether she’ll be lipsynching at that event.
Let’s nip that in the bud right now: she’s not going to be singing.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. She’s probably going to be singing, it’s just that the sounds coming out of her mouth won’t be what you hear at home — you’ll hear a prerecorded vocal track. They’ll turn her microphone up from time to time so she can yell “what’s up New Orleans?” and all the other tricks they use to make you think she’s singing live, but her performance will be the same as every other Super Bowl performance since lip synching became technologically possible: totally fake.
Really, there’s no other choice for halftime performers. Beyonce will be expected to dance all over the stage and it’s utterly impossible to hit the notes she hits when you’re out of breath from doing this. It’s also pretty hard to sing directly into a microphone when you’re swinging your head around like this.
Let’s stop expecting our pop stars to do the impossible. Beyonce can sing — that’s her incredible voice on the prerecorded track. She just can’t sing in perfect pitch while standing next to the president or dancing around on a football field. Frankly, no one on earth can.