Soon after Beyonce’s performance of the Star Spangled Banner at President Obama’s Jan. 21 inauguration celebration, social networks exploded with lip-synching rumors.
Conflicting reports from the Marine band, who accompanied Beyonce during the National Anthem, came out last Tuesday regarding the syncing. Initially, Col. Michael J. Colburn, director of the Marine Band, stated that the singer used a prerecorded version. United States Marine Corps. Media Officer Capt. Gregory A. Wolf took back this statement later that day, acknowledging that the band used a prerecorded version, but he was unsure if Beyonce used a recorded version.
(CU Independent Illustration/Josh Shettler)
After two days of speculation, an unnamed inauguration official confirmed that Beyonce, in fact, did not sing live. Many professional singers, including Aretha Franklin – who sang the National Anthem at the 2009 inauguration – as well as Alicia Keys and Michelle Williams, have come forward in Beyonce’s defense. Despite the big-name defense, thousands of people called out the singer as a fraud on social media, saying that she should be able perform under any conditions if she is a professional singer.
But to these critics – who probably never sang in front of a crowd bigger than the one in their mirror – I say: she was doing her job. Her job is to put on the best performance she can. Between the weather, reverb and lack of rehearsal, Beyonce was justified in using a recording of her own voice for one of the highest profile performances of her career.
No human voice, even one as strong as Beyonce’s, can perform under all conditions. The weather on the National Mall on Jan. 21 was better than 2009, but wasn’t ideal for a vocal performance. Washington, D.C., was chilly and dry, which strains vocal chords. No professional singer in the right mind would risk his or her career on one day’s weather.
Then comes the factor of reverb, which, at a venue like the Mall, can be detrimental to a performance. This pitch slap, coming several seconds after the initial notes, can mess up timing even with multiple rehearsals. Without a chance to practice in the same space beforehand, it was sensible to avoid the risk of having to deal with the reverb.
This brings me to my final point: Beyonce did not have time to rehearse with the Marine Band prior to the performance, which is crucial. Singing a difficult song like the Star-Spangled Banner with a band without rehearsing with them could have led to a catastrophic performance.
Although I think Beyonce would be able to overcome these challenges, I can’t blame her for making that choice, even if she hasn’t publicly admitted whether she sang along with herself.
So what does this mean for her Super Bowl Halftime performance? If we look at her possible reasons for lip-synching at the inauguration, I would say nothing. New Orleans is notoriously humid, and Sunday’s forecast calls for upper-60s. Reverb is a factor, but she has performed in football stadiums before; I don’t see any problems there. And rehearsal? She’s been doing that since Friday. So let’s all calm down and let her live.
Contact CU Independent News Budget Editor Avalon Jacka at Avalon.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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