As a voice teacher and singer, I was curious to check out Beyoncé singing the National Anthem for President Obama’s inauguration on January 21, 2013. The National Anthem is a hard piece to sing because it covers a wide range of an octave and a perfect fifth, which is greater than most songs.
As I listened to her performance, I thought to myself that her lowest notes were weak and airy. Her vibrato wasn’t spinning at the same rate throughout her range. On some notes it was faster, while on others, it was slower. However, I was quite impressed with Beyoncé’s sense of pitch; it sounded perfect! Well, there was a reason why….
Beyoncé lip-synced her performance to a recording she made the day before. Ah, no wonder why her pitch was perfect. Recently, there has been a practice of backing up instrumental performances in case of weather related or technical problems, so Beyoncé is not the first or only person to do this.
As I read through peoples’ comments about this on CNN, I was surprised that they were mixed. I initially thought that everyone would rip her apart. After all, this was the inauguration of the President of the United States, arguably the most powerful man on earth. Wouldn’t it make sense for there to at least be live singing for a couple of minutes for such an important event? While some people did criticize her, others were willing to give her a pass, based on things such as the fact that it was cold outside and that it could be hard to hear oneself sing in that environment.
It just goes to show that more and more, people want product perfect, and that they don’t care if it’s produced by technology. After all, people pay a lot of money to attend Britney Spears’ “concerts” that are lip-synced. Artistically speaking, if something happens frequently enough and long enough in our culture, it becomes more or less, accepted.
For me, I always go back to the fact that there was a time when technology couldn’t save an artist and that they had to get the job done. I would hope that if I was ever fortunate enough to sing for the inauguration of the President of the United States, that I would actually sing live for the minute or two that it takes to do the National Anthem.
What do you think: No lip-syncing allowed, or give the poor girl a break?