Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search

Decoder Buzz

Beyoncé lip sync on national anthem: Does it matter? (+video)

The Beyoncé lip sync, like all things inaugural, is not without precedent: Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and violinist Itzhak Perlman didn't play live in 2008, either. But it gives White House critics an opening.

(Page 2 of 2)

Nor did anyone attempt a coverup, once the question was raised. A Marine Band spokeswoman confirmed to CNN that Beyoncé apparently opted to use a version of the song that the band and she had recorded the day before.

Skip to next paragraph

Recent posts

“We don’t know why the decision was made,” said Marine spokeswoman Kristen DuBois, adding that use of pre-recorded stuff “isn’t that unusual” in such circumstances.

Yes, maybe. But by not saying this in advance, Beyoncé has given the voracious 24-minute news cycle of the Internet world an analogy with which to play. Most folks took it light-heartedly – joking that it was OK, she’d privately sung the anthem the day before (that’s a reference to Obama’s Sunday private swearing-in) or that it’s too bad, but federal law now requires her to be punished by rejoining Destiny’s Child.

But a few administration critics took this as an easy way to hit the White House for what they perceive as its overall falsity. And others appeared genuinely unmoored by the revelation.

“The truth is this: It feels like a lie. When luminaries have gathered together in the flesh for an epic, historic event – the inauguration as the first black president serves a second term and swears on a bible – you expect truth,” writes Dodai Stewart on

And, if nothing else, this will just solidify the Star-Spangled Banner’s reputation as a jinx of a song. It’s hard to sing. Everybody is standing up and watching. Next thing you know, the words have just gone right out of your head and you’re scatting along with “o’er the hams of the freeze and the loam of the cave” or something like that.

We figure that’s what happened to Christina Aguilera when she flubbed it at the Super Bowl in 2011, right?

The late Whitney Houston’s Super Bowl rendition of the national anthem in 1991 remains perhaps the definitive performance of the song. It was perfect, no funny stuff on the build-up, and then just Houston’s powerful voice carrying the song over the top at the end.

Of course, she was lip-synching, according to the New York Daily News. But lo those many years ago, nobody in the crowd appeared to care.


  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer

Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!