Contrary to usual circumstances, President Obama was not the star of the aftershock of the inauguration — Beyoncé was.
After the inauguration ceremony, where Beyoncé sang the national anthem, it was reported that she used a pre-recorded voice soundtrack and likely lip synced the entire rendition.
This is not the first allegation of a major lip syncing performance for a popular artist. But none have been on such a high stage as the day the president of the United States is sworn into office, where more than entertainment is at stake.
The U.S. Marine Band made a statement Tuesday saying it would have been impossible for Beyoncé to do a live performance alongside their musical accompaniment because they didn’t have enough practice time.
While the U.S. Marine Band didn’t confirm whether Beyoncé’s entire performance was pre-recorded, they did note that she played a pre-recorded track.
Was Beyoncé incapable of performing the national anthem, a song I’m sure she has sung several hundred times? Or was it just too easy for her to use a pre-recorded track, assuming there would be no consequences?
While illumination of a lip syncing performance can be damaging to a reputation, other artists have been able to bounce back with little repercussions, still making millions on albums and live performances.
Remember Ashlee Simpson? In 2004, Simpson performed live on Saturday Night Live … but it was far from a live performance. Similar to Beyoncé’s performance, it was found later that Simpson had pre-recorded the entire thing.
Britney Spears — while the mention of her name may bring much more to mind than lip syncing, mainly shaved heads and warranted media attention — has also had a bad history of lip syncing.
In 2009, while performing in Australia, fans stormed out of the concert hall after only a few songs, saying that it was clear to them she was not actually performing live. The same reports were made about several other performances during her comeback tour. Not much of a comeback if you ask me, but she still made millions.
So why do I bring up this recent trend? I believe there is more to the issue than just lip syncing. It is about the authenticity of music, live or recorded.
In today’s entertainment world, musicians can get away with almost anything while performing as long as it sounds good, while that is largely subjective. The rise of auto-tune in music, as made popular by artists like T-Pain, should raise some interesting questions for listeners.
Does today’s music require as much vocal talent as it used to, when the values that our culture associated with music were more aligned with authenticity than with pure entertainment?
If the average listener does not question more mainstream artists like Beyoncé, Simpson or Spears, nobody should have any complaints with talentless claims for Rebecca Black. Her claim to fame, the song “Friday,” actually made me despise Fridays for a while, making the day inseparable from the horrifying tune.
I could write pages about other talentless artists to make my point, but few would call Beyoncé talentless, and I would agree with that. She has proven that over years of recording.
So it's not that she doesn’t possess the talent, but rather that she didn’t have to. As listeners, we haven't required it of her.
After all, it will only be a few weeks before this whole controversy is over and everyone will be back to praising her.
Beyoncé’s performance, or lack thereof, is merely a symptom of the underlying problem: artists don’t value authentic music, and by in large neither do listeners.
If all we want is entertainment, then that’s what we will get. Just don’t be surprised by these occurences.