Poor Beyonce. She allegedly lip-syncs the National Anthem at the presidential inauguration — adhering to an accepted practice in the entertainment world — and the next thing you know, she’s being scandalized. Media outlets ranging from CNN to The Huffington Post have breathlessly reported and analyzed the deeper meanings of Beyonce’s alleged lip-sync. Ad Age recently published an infographic depicting the explosion of conversation about the incident and speculation that she might lip-sync at the Super Bowl XLVII halftime show. You would think Beyonce committed massive fraud when in fact performers have been lip-syncing for ages, one famous example being Whitney Houston lip-syncing the National Anthem at Super Bowl XXV in 1991. In fact, Beyonce is guilty of nothing more than bad timing if indeed she lip-synced, as an unidentified source claims.
I dislike the practice of lip-syncing. Performers who lip-sync deny themselves and their fans the experience of hearing a song re-interpreted uniquely. Lip-syncing is especially annoying when you pay a premium price for the live experience. When a vocal in concert merely replicates the sound you hear in a recorded track, then concert goers are paying not for the singing but for the pure spectacle of seeing your favorite star live — the costumes, the set designs, and all else that comes with particularly high-concept shows. You might as well listen a recorded guitar solo, too.