I know that many people are not bothered by the lip-syncing of the national anthem at the Inauguration — or at least not as much as some of us. I must confess that I am still ticked about the deception at a ceremony with a great deal of symbolism for the country’s democratic traditions. For constitutionalists, the ceremony represents the fulfillment of our commitment to peaceful transfers of power. For that reason, I was less than thrilled with Beyoncé’s effort (after weeks of silence) to rehabilitate herself at a press conference yesterday. Her public relations people appear to have read Othello and adopted the defense that Beyonce is not lazy or spoiled but “one that lov’d not wisely but too well.”
Many fans (including myself) do not want to listen to her sing at the Superbowl which appears to be important enough to her to actually perform as opposed to the inauguration. The press conference was meant to show that it was not that she did not care about the Inauguration but cared too much. I was not convinced. Indeed, I felt she doubled down on the lie.
Beyoncé began by singing the National Anthem at the press conference. This thrilled the largely enraptured reporters with the celebrity. No one asked why she could do that at a press conference but not the Inauguration. She however offered a spin that seemed well-constructed by her press people. First, she insisted that “Well, I am a perfectionist. I practice until my feet bleed, and I did not have time to rehearse with the orchestra.” Well, if you are such a perfectionist, how about showing up for rehearsal or taking the time to prepare. You clearly had the time for a press conference before a football game.
Then she added: “It was a live television show, and a very, very important, emotional show for me, one of my proudest moments. And due to the weather, due to the delay, due to no proper sound check, I did not feel comfortable taking a risk.” Really? Clarkson, Taylor and others are huge performers and yet made it to rehearsal and sang in the elements. They also viewed this as an important day. Indeed, the importance of the day is to have authentic performances — not pretend singing for a pretend event. She was not asked to lip-sync. She was given his honor to sing. That is particularly the case when it is our national anthem.
She then added “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 am very proud of my performance.” Well, it was about the President until you lip-synced the anthem. It is common in the music industry until it is discovered on shows like Saturday Night Live –and then the performers are ridiculed like Ashlee Simpson. If she is proud of her performance (or non-performance), she appears alone. What she gave Americans is the thrill of watching her pretend to sing.
Once again, I know many people do not care. I do. I think her decision (and the Marine band’s decision to go along with her) is an utter disgrace. Her press conference (which seemed to lack any serious questions from reporters) sounded like the confession of a diva: you got to see me and no one promised you a real live performance. Like many, I will be grinding my teeth as Beyoncé sings live at the Superbowl because a “perfectionist” takes the time to rehearse for a football game.