Reactions are mixed. Some feel that it's really no big deal that Beyonce skipped out on actually singing The Anthem. However, it does matter to National Anthem snobs and to Senator Chuck Schumer who invited her to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the Inauguration. Beyonce singing the Anthem live at the Super Bowl press conference does not replace the fact that she didn't deliver the goods on January 21.
“I have not heard from her before, during or after,” a clearly uncomfortable Schumer said when a New York Post reporter raised the question at Schumer’s regular news conference on January 27. “I couldn’t tell,” he said, “I only saw her from the back.” And at the time of the inauguration smiled broadly.
“Sen. Schumer promised Beyoncé, but he delivered Milli Vanilli instead,” a Republican congressional aide joked after the press conference. Milli Vanilli was the duo of model/dancers Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus who looked good but weren't the real performers. Milli Vanilli shot to fame in the late ’80s with a string of number 1 singles. They won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist which was revoked after it was discovered the dancers were lip-syncing all their recordings. The band continued with the real performers as The Real Milli Vanilli while Rob & Fab tried to redeem themselves without much success.
Beyonce won't be losing her Grammy Awards. But she has embarrassed Senator Schumer and caused quite a bit of controversy with people taking sides about her performance. A professional musician tried to convince the world that "Beyonce Wans't Lip-synching" however she definitively was.
It only took Beyonce ten days after the Inauguration to come up with a stream of excuses as to why she "sang along to her prerecorded track." At her Super Bowl press conference January 31, Beyonce walked onto the stage with a live mic and asked everyone to rise. Then she sang the National Anthem. When she had finished she asked, "Any questions?"
She then admitted she did not perform “The Star-Spangled Banner” live at President Obama's inauguration. This is still unforgiveable when what she was to sing at the Inauguration was a special arrangement of "The Star-Spangled Banner" which she was expected to sing with the Marine Band the day of the inauguration and not the solo rendition she delivered. She said:
“I am a perfectionist and one thing about me: I practice until my feet bleed. I did not have time to rehearse with the orchestra. It was a live television show and a very, very important, emotional show for me, one of my proudest moments. Due to the weather, due to the [sound] delay, due to no proper sound check, I did not feel comfortable taking a risk. It was about the president and the inauguration and I wanted to make him and my country proud. So I decided to sing along with my prerecorded track, which is very common in the music industry. I’m very proud of my performance.”
She promised for her Super Bowl 12-minute halftime performance, "I will absolutely be singing live. I am well-rehearsed and I will absolutely be singing live. This is what I was born to do, what I was born for.”
Here is a list breaking down Beyonce's excuses.
- "I practice until my feet bleed." Singing the National Anthem isn't about dance moves, it's about singing. In this case it was also about working with an orchestra and a new arrangement.
- "I did not have time to rehearse with the orchestra." What she meant was that she didn't make the time. She certainly spent a great deal of time pre-recording the track in the studio. That took hours. She certainly listened to the arrangement as there are photos of her studying herself in the mirror while she listened to the song. Certainly some of that time could have been spent with the conductor of the orchestra and learning how to follow his visual cues. She also showed up perfectly coiffed, manicured, and in a stunning gown.
- "The weather." Since when is 40 degrees Fahrenheit a problem? Beyonce has sung in colder weather. Many singers have sung in colder weather. And Kelly Clarkson sang in the exact same conditions.
- "The [sound] delay." What she means is that she doesn't know how to rely on a conductor waving a stick to keep the beat. Professional musicians and even student musicians are taught that one must rely on one's eyes when playing in very large ensembles because ears are not a reliable method for keeping the beat. Again, Kelly Clarkson made it work.
- "No proper sound check." Beyonce had time to show up perfectly coiffed, elegantly gowned, and perfectly manicured. "No proper sound check"? Professional musicians make the time. Certainly the orchestra was ready and Kelly Clarkson seemed to have made the time.
- "Very common in the music industry." Perhaps it's common for pop singers to sing along to a pre-recorded track with a microphone turned off, however, trained musicians expect to play live. It is a different animal when instrument keys stick and strings do not vibrate because of freezing temperatures as with Yo-Yo Ma four years ago, but this was not the case. Kelly Clarkson sang "America the Beautiful" live, ergo Beyonce should have been able to also.
- "I'm very proud of my performance." What she means is that she's very proud of her pre-recorded track for which she hammed it up to distract people from the fact that she wasn't actually singing live. Had she been actually singing she would have been focusing on her singing rather than her huge arm movements.
- "I did not feel comfortable taking a risk." Beyonce sings by ear and clearly was not up to things like following a conductor. Despite practicing, she lacks the training to be a true musician and did not have the training to overcome the problems. Despite lack of training in a classical format, Kelly Clarkson still overcame the problems.
- "It was about the president and the inauguration and I wanted to make him and my country proud." What she really meant to say was that she was hoping the country wouldn't notice that she wasn't actually singing and focus on the President.
- "I sang along to my pre-recorded track." It's not really lip-synching if you sing along to your pre-recorded track with the microphone off, is it? Beyonce would like people to think that. However, since her voice was pre-recorded and she wasn't singing through the mic, it is no better than lip-synching to sing along with the mic turned off.
Ultimately, Beyonce is correct about just one thing. The Inauguration should be about The President. Thanks to her stunt, it wasn't.
National Anthem snobs can read more articles by Diana Diaz. Please note, National Anthem is a proper noun (which should be capitalized) in the United States when referring to "The Star-Spangled Banner."
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Can you do better?