Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

It's Beyonce-Gate! Not

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
updated 8:15 AM EST, Thu January 24, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Beyonce might have lip-synced the national anthem at Obama's inauguration
  • Dean Obeidallah: Too many people go from zero to (faux) outrage in seconds
  • He says performing to prerecorded tracks has been done at previous inaugurals
  • Obeidallah: It's not uncommon for pop stars to lip-sync at very big outdoor events

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog "The Dean's Report" and co-director of the upcoming documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!" Follow him on Twitter: @deanofcomedy.

(CNN) -- "The dignity of the American presidency has been tarnished! Congress must investigate. Let's make sure this type of tragedy never happens again. And how do we know that was really Beyonce? Maybe it was a hologram or a body double!"

The above are just the (slightly) exaggerated responses of some in the cybersphere to the revelation that Beyonce Knowles might have lip-synced all or part of the national anthem at Monday's presidential inauguration.

There are simply too many people in this country who go from zero to (faux) outrage in a matter of nanoseconds. Just look at Twitter and you will see the overuse of capital letters by people who feel CHEATED and ROBBED by the possibility of Beyonce's prerecorded performance.

Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah

The U.S. Marine Band, which provided the musical accompaniment for Beyonce, is neither confirming nor denying that she lip-synced to a prerecorded track, although earlier a spokeswoman said the pop star "did not actually sing." The Marine Band did explain that Beyonce, like all singers at the inauguration, made a recording of the song she was scheduled to sing which would be played "in case of freezing temperatures, equipment failure or extenuating circumstances."

To be honest, if Beyonce did lip sync the entire song she should be nominated for an Emmy award for outstanding acting in a TV Special, because it looked amazingly real. And I worked at "Saturday Night Live" in 2004 when Ashlee Simpson had her infamous lip-syncing meltdown so I have seen up close the horrors of bad lip-syncing.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



It's not that I'm unsympathetic to those who wanted to experience Beyonce singing live. There's truly no substitute for live performances. (Although on nights when I'm tired, I wish I could lip-sync some of my jokes to a prerecorded track, but alas, that's not allowed in my field -- yet.) And true, Kelly Clarkson sang a great version of "My Country 'Tis of Thee" live at the inauguration.

However, to those outraged by the thought of Beyonce's possible lip-syncing, you need to keep a few things in mind. First, there's no dispute that was Beyonce's voice we heard. This isn't a Milli Vanilli type scandal where a singer lip-synced to songs actually sung by others.

Secondly, performing to prerecorded tracks has been done at previous presidential inaugurals as well as at other big outdoor events because of audio concerns posed by weather conditions or technical issues.

Indeed, at President Obama's 2009 inauguration, music legend Yo-Yo Ma mimicked playing his cello to a prerecorded track because the frigid weather would have made it too difficult to play live in tune.

Beyonce sings at inauguration

And at the 2012 Olympic games in London, the majority of musical performances in the opening and closing ceremonies were performed to prerecorded tracks, including ones by iconic bands like The Who and the Rolling Stones, because of acoustic issues with the outdoor venue. (Audience members were told well in advance that some songs would not be performed live.) Obviously, this is not an uncommon practice in special situations.

Plus, this is clearly different than if people had paid to see Beyonce in concert and she lip-synced most, if not all, of her songs. That would have been wrong, just as it was when Britney Spears did it during her 2009 tour. In fact, Britney's overuse of lip-syncing so angered people in Australia that lawmakers there actually considered passing a law requiring that concertgoers be informed if parts of a show will be lip-synced.

Beyonce hasn't responded about whether she did lip-sync. If she did, it could have been for a very valid reason, such as concerns about the weather or acoustics, or maybe nerves -- even superstars must get a little nervous when they see a crowd of close to a million people.

Unfortunately for Beyonce, this issue will not go away quickly, because she's scheduled to perform in less than two weeks during the Super Bowl halftime show. There's no doubt reporters will hound her regarding whether she will be singing live or not. But to me, the real question people should be asking is: Who is going to win the Super Bowl?

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 11:39 AM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Mike Downey says the Giants and the Royals both lived through long title droughts. What teams are waiting for a win?
updated 2:32 PM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Mel Robbins says if a man wants to talk to a woman on the street, he should follow 3 basic rules.
updated 5:03 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say more terrorism plots are disrupted by families than by NSA surveillance.
updated 5:25 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Time magazine has clearly kicked up a hornet's nest with its downright insulting cover headlined "Rotten Apples," says Donna Brazile.
updated 4:55 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Leroy Chiao says the failure of the launch is painful but won't stop the trend toward commercializing space.
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Timothy Stanley: Though Jeb Bush has something to offer, another Bush-Clinton race would be a step backward.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Errol Louis says forced to choose between narrow political advantage and the public good, the governors showed they are willing to take the easy way out over Ebola.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Eric Liu says with our family and friends and neighbors, each one of us must decide what kind of civilization we expect in the United States. It's our responsibility to set tone and standards, with our laws and norms
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Sally Kohn says the UNC report highlights how some colleges exploit student athletes while offering little in return
updated 3:04 PM EDT, Sun October 26, 2014
Terrorists don't represent Islam, but Muslims must step up efforts to counter some of the bigotry within the world of Islam, says Fareed Zakaria
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Scott Yates says extending Daylight Saving Time could save energy, reduce heart attacks and get you more sleep
updated 8:32 PM EDT, Sun October 26, 2014
Reza Aslan says the interplay between beliefs and actions is a lot more complicated than critics of Islam portray
updated 7:19 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Julian Zelizer says control of the Senate will be decided by a few close contests
updated 8:12 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
The response of some U.S. institutions that should know better to Ebola has been anything but inspiring, writes Idris Ayodeji Bello.
updated 9:12 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Sigrid Fry-Revere says the National Organ Transplant Act has caused more Americans to die waiting for an organ than died in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT