The notes burst like bombs in air, but now there is proof that Bey’s voice was not altogether there. It has been confirmed that the singer Beyoncé Knowles, whose immaculate rendition of The Star Spangled Banner at the U.S. presidential inauguration was the talk of the ceremony, lip-synched her outdoor performance.
According to a representative with the United States Marine Band, the superstar singer decided at the last minute to mime to a vocal track she’d taped earlier. “All music is pre-recorded for the ceremony because there are so many eventualities and conditions that day,” Kristin DuBois, a rep for the band told the N.Y. Post. “We performed, live, the band. But we received last-minute word that Beyoncé was going to use the pre-recorded vocal track. Those were the instructions we were given. We don’t know what the reason why.”
The motto for U.S. Marines is Semper Fidelis, meaning “always faithful.”
Instantly after her performance, Beyoncé was lauded for her triumphant rendition of the Francis Scott Key classic. “Unaided by a backing choir, Beyoncé was poised and confident,” the London-based Guardian newspaper gushed online. “Without flinching, she flicked out her distracting in-ear monitor as she reached the crucial soaring notes of this testing piece.”
Of course, now it is clear that the singer had every right to her poise and confidence, given that her sterling rendition was already in the bag.
This isn’t the first time such controversy has dogged an Obama inauguration. In 2009, the cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the violinist Itzhak Perlman and two other instrumentalists finger-synched a performance of John Williams’s Air and Simple Gifts. The decision to use a version taped two days earlier by the quartet was based on the cold weather, which poses problems involving unstable intonation, snapped strings and cracked instruments.
In 2009, Obama’s presidential oath was slightly botched. There has been no word from the White House as to whether or not the solemnly-swearing commander-in-chief lip-synched his pledge this year.