Beyonce at the Inauguration: Live or Memorex?

beyonce national anthem inauguration

The latest controversy swirling around the Internet is the question of whether Beyonce sang the national anthem live, or if she lip synced a pre-recorded version.

It appears she lip synced, even though she hasn’t officially announced it. Although her accompanying Marine Band did admit the performance was pre-recorded. Various speculations have been made as to the reasons why Beyonce would do such a thing. The cold weather. Quality control at such a large, momentous event. No opportunity to rehearse (well apparently there was a rehearsal held, but Beyonce was a no show).

Supporters say it’s a common occurrence and all singers lip sync at some point in their career.

They also point out it was Beyonce’s voice, albeit a pre-recorded version.

It turns out Kelly Clarkson and James Taylor both sang their inaugural songs live. And personally, I thought Clarkson blew Beyonce out of the water with a more emotional, heart-felt performance. Could it be because Clarkson was actually singing live, in the moment, and was moved by the experience?

I believe performers ought to perform live—it feels inauthentic to lip sync.

Especially when the audience is led to believe they’re performing live.

But I’m not here to debate whether lip syncing is right or wrong. Rather, to consider why lip syncing even exists in our world today.

Why would someone whose vocation and passion is singing, and who is very successful at it, feel the need to “fake it” when given one of the biggest honors there is—singing the national anthem at an historic event? I’m guessing so she could be “perfect.” And that is the real problem. Because then it’s no longer about the honor, or honoring our country or president, it’s about the performer looking (or sounding) good.

I have nothing against Beyonce.

She’s extremely talented. In a world full of out-of-control celebrities who are often more famous for being famous than for having talent, I believe she’s the real deal. And she seems like a genuinely good person.

But it makes me sad that we live in a world where even someone so talented feels the need to pre-package her performance. While I believe it does say something about her and/or her management team, on a larger scale it says something about the world we live in, where it’s often hard to tell what’s real and what’s not. And the goal far too often is to “look good” no matter what.

Your thoughts?



About Debbie

After spending 32 years in marketing, Debbie now spends her time blogging, teaching online courses, doing volunteer pet therapy, and encouraging others to follow a more inspired path through life.

4 comments on “Beyonce at the Inauguration: Live or Memorex?

  1. Debbie,

    Give me a break!

    I don’t get why it matters if a great performer lip syncs her own voice or not at an occasion such as the Inauguration, in the cold, and under tight time constraints. If she had lip synced an entire concert it would be a very different story.

    If it’s ok for the entire Marine Band to prerecord rather than appear in person in limited space, why is it not okay for the performer to lip sync?

    When the weather can affect the voice and giving a quality performance is of high concern, I don’t see it as inauthentic at all. It’s exactly because her career depends on her voice that I support her in protecting at all costs.

    We don’t question the speakers for having notes or teleprompters to ensure a flawless as possible performance.

    Congrats to Kelly and James if they sang live, but I don’t think Beyonce should be put down if she did lip sync.

    I’m not particularly a Beyonce fan, but I defend her choice if she did in fact lip sync, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of her performance and the entire Inauguration.

    How dare you call her inauthentic!

  2. Clearly you misunderstood the sentiment behind my post. I place the blame on a society and media that perpetuate perfection at all costs, over being real. I believe Beyonce is probably as much a victim of this as anyone, but she lives it out on a bigger stage than most of us. I also am not saying it’s OK for the Marine Band but not for Beyonce. As I wrote, I’m not debating whether lip syncing is right or wrong (I just shared my personal opinion on that), rather I’m pointing out that I believe it’s a sad statement about the world we live in and what it drives people to do.

    Of course you are entitled to your opinion, and I do welcome all opinions, and debate, here on the blog. I just wanted to make sure you understood I was in no way vilifying Beyonce. Mine is a commentary on our world and the fact that so little of what we see in the media and online these days is actually real, yet it is marketed as being real. THAT is what’s inauthentic

  3. Hi Debbie!
    I jumped over to that link and read the post there. Agreed, he is spot- on.
    Two paragraphs in particular sums up the discussion:
    “Reality is complicated, messy, and uncertain. We want it to be shrink-wrapped and labeled clearly,” says Mark Carnes… “We prefer the crisp clarity of sound bites and slogans to the blaring cacophony of the world around us.”
    “In a nation already disgusted by media bias … does this stuff that dances at the edges have any effect in the long run? It’s a difficult thing to measure, but just consider: If little things in life aren’t what they seem, how well does that bode for our society?”
    Our North American culture tends to live in a delusional bubble of perfection. And people literally kill themselves every year trying to achieve it.
    I try to sing the chorus from my favourite Beatles song every day I can so I don’t become one of those statistics:
    “Let it be.”
    And no, I don’t lip sync it. I really do sing it. 😉

  4. The thing that concerns me the most is that I fear we are indeed turning into a society that prefers the packaged stuff to the real stuff, because that’s what we are becoming accustomed to. And at some point you have to wonder if we can ever go back to reality and be happy with it. Because as you point out, that “delusional bubble of perfection” is impossible to live up to, and too many people are killing themselves trying.

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