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Star’s fake singing causes real chaos
As President Barack Obama gave his address on this year’s action-packed mash-up of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Inauguration Day, folks on Twitter were causing a ruckus.
I’m sure some of them were moaning and groaning about Obama’s speech, but Twitter was also peeved at the performance by Beyoncé Knowles as she stepped forward before the nation to sing our national anthem.
Or, more precisely, they were upset about a performance that wasn’t. “Bey” did deliver the anthem, just not an authentic one – she lip-synced our coveted tune.
At first listen I didn’t notice the pseudo-performance, but upon watching and re-watching the video until my eyes glazed over, it became painstakingly obvious that Beyoncé definitely mailed – or possibly phoned – this one in.
I shrugged my shoulders and life went on, but others let this revelation drag their day to a crashing halt as they called out the superstar and her “subpar acting.”
Which leads us to the question of why people care if musicians actually do what they do? The answer may not be as clear as we believe.
Pop music junkies have insatiable appetites for memorable performances and superstar personas – and the concept of lip-syncing just seems to ruin their immersion.
People pay huge sums for tickets, and they want to enjoy an experience that you just can’t get from nodding your head to a recorded track.
Live music delivers a different feeling than its recorded counterpart, and artists who continually deliver colossal stage shows pick up loyal fans much easier than other pop stars, who might struggle to match their recorded greatness with a flawed voice – but hey, at least they give it a shot, right?
Keeping this in mind, you might figure that only flawed artists use lip-syncing’s brand of musical steroids, but digging into the history of the live act reflects a different answer.
Some of the most famous musicians have been caught lip-syncing songs, including Freddy Mercury of Queen and Whitney Houston. These two examples are not mentioned much, while culprits like Britney Spears and Ashlee Simpson can’t seem to shake their abysmal scandals.
Why are classic artists like Queen forgiven quickly, while the unpopular or “has-been” stars struggle to rid themselves of their past mistakes?
The truth is, consumers want a great performance, period. Whether it’s lip-synced or not, they demand the fantastic. If artists do choose to lip-sync, fans don’t want the hoax to be clear – they want the musician to fake-sing so convincingly they risk winning an Academy Award.
These are the components that separate the Whitney Houstons from the Britney Spears-es of the music industry: Houston sold her act and Spears didn’t.
Beyoncé will eventually overcome the fallout from her charade in the near future – she’s too talented not to – but I applaud her for giving us something unimportant to talk about on such an eventful day. The only thing that could have matched the craze over her bad acting was if the president matched it with a fake speech.
T. S. Johnson is a journalism sophomore. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.