Jim Bartlett's Blog

The Land of the Free and the Home of the Pre-Recorded

Forgive me if I am unable to work up even a tiny bit of outrage over the news that Beyoncé lip-synched the National Anthem at President Obama's inauguration ceremony.

When Christina Aguilera famously messed up the anthem before the Packers' Super Bowl win two years ago, I was among those who joked about it, until my wife set me straight. She's performed the anthem in public (with the Sound of Madison chorus) and she says that "The Star-Spangled Banner" is very difficult to sing. "It has a very large range from low notes to high notes, and it has some jumps [from note to note] that are pretty unusual compared to what we're used to hearing." And if you don't agree with that, listen to Aretha Franklin, who says shad no problem with Beyonce's choice to lip-sync: "The weather down there was about 46 or 44 degrees, and for most singers that is just not good singing weather." Another consideration: the National Anthem at the inauguration is a very, very big deal. In a spot like that, nobody wants to risk mid-song microphone failure. It's embarrassing if Kelly Clarkson's microphone goes out during "My Country 'Tis of Thee," but if it happens during the anthem, it's a disaster of historic proporations.

It's not as though Beyoncé is the first person ever to do this. One of the most famous anthem performances of all time was Whitney Houston's before the Super Bowl just days after the Persian Gulf War began. For years, people close to Whitney insisted that she'd sung it live. Last year, however, her musical director finally confirmed that the performance was lip-synched. In a giant stadium, with a delay between the moment the words come out of your mouth and when they come echoing back to you over the PA system, it's easy to lose your place and give less than your best performance. When the whole country, or the whole world, is watching, that's not what you want. Such performances are recorded far more often than most people realize.

And if lip-synching was good enough for everybody who ever appeared on American Bandstand back in the day, it's good enough for anybody now. Beyoncé did what she felt she had to do on Inauguration Day, and I don't have a problem with it.

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People : Aretha FranklinChristina AguileraKelly ClarksonObamaWhitney Houston

01/28/2013 10:14AM
The Land of the Free and the Home of the Pre-Recorded
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