Editor’s note: The Marine band spokesperson has backed off her early statement that Beyonce did not sing live. See our update at the bottom.
Beyoncé’s performance of the national anthem during Monday’s presidential inauguration has been hailed by many as being so well done. But was it live? Let’s examine. (But there is — or was — a definitive answer.)
Some began accusing the singer Tuesday of lip-syncing “The Star Spangled Banner.” The Washingtonian reported that “close observers” felt that it appeared she was not singing in the brisk January air. In addition, the Washingtonian says the band seemed to be pretending to play its instruments as well.
“[...] even though band director Colonel Michael J. Colburn was conducting energetically and the band members mimicked blowing into their instruments,” Sophie Gilbert wrote.
In addition, Gilbert wrote on the Washingtonian about how the singer actually posted a picture of herself recording the song in a studio the day before:
On January 20, the day before the ceremony, Beyoncé posted pictures to her Instagram account that appeared to show her in a recording studio. In one, she holds a copy of the sheet music to “The Star Spangled Banner” in front of a microphone attached to a recording device, and in another she sits in front of recording equipment while members of the Marine Corps Band stand clutching sheet music behind her.
Examining the evidence further, how about Beyoncé removing her earpiece mid-song? Fishy? The earpiece is used so singers are able to hear themselves among other noise from a band or crowd. Perhaps Beyoncé was having no problem hearing herself during the national anthem — a time when many would quietly be listening — or if the star was lip-syncing she wouldn’t need an earpiece to hear herself in the first place.
However TheBlaze’s own choral aficionado Jon Seidl, who is our front page editor but also won some choral accolades back in his high school days, said it sounded like Beyoncé was, in fact, singing live to him. Before making your own judgment, take a look and listen:
So what’s the verdict?
The Times of London received a statement from the Marine Corp Band spokesperson Kristen DuBois who said it was routine to record a track before the actual performance and that Beyoncé decided to use it instead of singing live the day of the ceremony:
“We don’t know why Beyoncé decided to use prerecorded music,” a spokesperson for the Marine Corps Band told us this morning. “All music is prerecorded as a matter of course, and that’s something we’ve done for years and years. The Marine Band did perform live throughout the ceremony but we received last-minute word that Beyoncé wanted to use the recording.”
In an update, the Washingtonian wrote the DuBois went on to say that Beyoncé is a gifted singer and the decision to lip-sync shouldn’t put into question her musical talent.
Beyoncé has not said anything about the lip-sync yet. She was also accused of lip-syncing at the 2009 Oscars.
Still, Beyoncé is being called “fake” by some, which might have been avoided if there was some transparency beforehand. People are more apt to be understanding of certain conditions (like if it was too cold to sing) if they’re told it was lip-synced from the very beginning. TheBlaze found the same was true of nature documentaries when it spoke about the prevalence of faked scenes with a filmmaker last year.
“Sometimes staging does make sense and there is nothing wrong with it,” wildlife filmmaker Chris Palmer told TheBlaze last year. “As long as animals aren’t hurt or harassed…and the staging event isn’t hidden from the viewer, then there is no problem.”
Would you have felt differently about Beyoncé’s performance if you knew she lip-synced it all along? Let us know in the comments.
The Marine band has now backed off of its previous statement that Beyonce’s performance was not live — consider it changing their tune or doing an about-face. The Associated Press has the new details (emphasis added):
On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Marine Band told news outlets that Beyonce had lip synced at President Barack Obama’s inauguration. Master Sgt. Kristin duBois said the band was notified at the last minute that Beyonce would use a pre-recorded voice track.
But by late afternoon, the Marine Corps backed off that statement.
Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Gregory Wolf said that because there was no opportunity for Beyonce to rehearse with the Marine Band, it was determined that a live performance by the band was ill advised. Instead they used a pre-recorded track for the band’s portion of the song.
“Regarding Ms. Knowles-Carter’s vocal performance,” Wolf’s statement continued, “no one in the Marine Band is in a position to assess whether it was live or pre-recorded.”
A representative for Beyonce did not respond to requests for comment.
DuBois declined to answer further questions. Earlier in the day, she told The New York Times that the rest of the inaugural performance was live and they did not know why a recorded track was used for the national anthem.
“It’s not because Beyonce can’t sing. We all know Beyonce can sing. We all know the Marine Band can play,” she said.