Beyonce’s brief ‘Lance Armstrong’ moment may be over.
Just one day after her stand-out performance of America’s national anthem, the row over whether Houston’s finest sang the “Star Spangled Banner live” or — inhale — lip-synced, has morphed into a full-blown career crisis.
The timeline of the row, fast even by 24/7 news cycle standards, began with a story written by Nico Hines for The Times of London — an exclusive, no less — who wrote:
“A spokeswoman for the Marine Corp Band [ Master Sgt. Kristin DuBois] said it was standard procedure to record a backing track and Beyoncé decided shortly before her performance to rely on the studio version.”
That story was picked up and apparently ‘confirmed’ by Sophie Gilbert at the Washingtonian Blog, who, at 11:45 on January 22, stated:
“The London Times has confirmed our theory that Beyoncé was, in fact, lip syncing. See the video via YouTube.”
” ‘We don’t know why Beyoncé decided to use prerecorded music,’ a spokesperson for the Marine Corps Band told us this morning. ‘All music [for inaugural ceremonies] 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.’”
But, what’s that? Was the rush to slam Beyonce a tad premature, just a misunderstanding, not to mention a huge slur on a Grammy award winning artist who has more than proved herself after nearly 25 years of performing?
It would appear so. The latest update at the Washingtonian, some four hours after the original post at that site now carries a quote from the Marine Corp band director, saying:
“Colonel [Michael J.] Colburn, speaking this afternoon to The Washingtonian, says that he can’t confirm whether Beyoncé actually was singing. However, the band and the singer had decided Sunday night to use a precorded music track, since they were unable to coordinate a time for a full rehearsal.”
“She wasn’t comfortable performing without a rehearsal, and I wasn’t comfortable that either. We always knew that was a possibility.”
In addition, the Associated Press reports that this afternoon Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Gregory Wolf told them that although the band’s performance was not live:
“Regarding Ms. Knowles-Carter’s vocal performance, no one in the Marine Band is in a position to assess whether it was live or pre-recorded.”
So do Colburn and Wolf’s statements punch crater-size holes in the claim that Beyonce lip-synced? Maybe not crater-sized, but certainly big enough to give the current row a run for its money.
Despite past inauguration lip-sync reveals — violinist Itzhak Perlman and cellist Yo-Yo Ma “finger synced” at Obama’s first inauguration in 2009 — it would be a mistake to assume Beyonce faked her vocals.
In fact, a YouTube clip of her inauguration performance seems to show she was, in fact, singing live. Breath stops can be clearly heard, along with Beyonce’s actual voice and that unmistakable vibrato.
The explanation that Beyonce was either singing live or over a much lower pre-taped vocal also meshes with her mid-song ‘in-ears piece’ pull-out, typically the first thing to go when a singer is attempting to compensate for dodgy audio.
On reflection, what’s most interesting about the stampede to slam Beyonce — note the slew of green-eyed online remarks about her emerald earrings, much like previous nonsense about a fake pregnancy — is the underlying desire by some to find a flaw in seemingly untouchable perfection.
But with a much-hyped appearance at the Super Bowl just weeks away, a new $50 million Pepsi deal in place, and a HBO documentary due to air on February 16, the fact is Beyonce’s credibility has been impuned.
So the question is, if she didn’t lip-synch at the inauguration, and there’s every reason to believe that she didn’t — will Beyonce now stand up and put an end to this unseemly row once and for all?