Beyonce lip-synching 'scandal' leaves fans disappointed

Jan 23, 2013

Did cold weather prompt the singer to mime her superlative rendition of the US anthem?

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Singer Beyonce performs the National Anthem to wrap up the inauguration. Once it was over, Obama lingered on stage to take a look out at the packed Mall, saying: "I want to look out one more time because I'll never see this again".

PRESIDENT OBAMA has suffered the "first scandal" of his second term after it was revealed R&B singer Beyonce mimed her "soulful, pitch-perfect" rendition of the National Anthem at his inauguration on Monday.

Fans were "crazy in love" with Beyonce's performance of The Star Spangled Banner, says the New York Daily News, until they learned yesterday that the singer had lip-synched the song (video below). 

The shocking news was revealed by a spokesman for the US Marine Band that accompanied her performance, who said both the singer and the band "bluffed their way through a pre-recorded version".

News that Beyonce had done a Milli Vanilli provoked an angry reaction in the Twittersphere. "Apparently Beyoncé's inauguration performance was as dope as Lance Armstrong biking through the French Alps," said one disappointed fan.

But why did one of popular music's best singers decide to mime? The Guardian points out that the US anthem is a "notoriously difficult piece to sing" because it spans a "huge vocal range". That in itself is unlikely to have deterred Beyonce, but the task of performing it at an historic event in front of some 800,000 people would certainly have raised the stakes.

Soul legend Aretha Franklin, who sang at Obama's first inauguration, told ABC News the bitterly cold weather in Washington DC was probably the main reason Beyonce decided to lip-synch. "…the weather down there was about 46 or 44 degrees [Fahrenheit] and for most singers that is just not good singing weather," Franklin said.

The Washingtonian says there were signs that Beyonce might be preparing to mime the anthem prior to the inauguration. On Sunday, she posted several pictures on her Instagram account showing her in a recording studio with members of the Marine Band. Further evidence that she wasn't singing live came when she removed her earpiece halfway through yesterday's performance in Washington Mall.

The Washingtonian points out that it isn't the first time musicians have mimed to a pre-recorded track at an inaugural ceremony. Cold weather and wind forced cellist Yo-Yo Ma and violinist Itzhak Perlman to do it at Obama's 2009 inauguration, but there "are no previously known cases of a singer lip-synching the national anthem during an inaugural performance".

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Why should we be surprised ? Obama - like all our leaders these days - lip-synchs guff generated by focus groups.