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 9:56 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Ukraine's president says the downing of MH17 was a terrorist act, but Richard Barrett says it would be considered terrorism only if it was intentional
updated 4:15 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Robert McIntyre says the loophole that lets firms avoid taxes should be closed
updated 3:28 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Aaron Miller says Kerry needs the cooperation of Hamas, Israel, Egypt and others if he is to succeed in his peacemaking efforts
updated 11:35 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Jeronimo Saldana and Malik Burnett say Gov. Perry's plan to send National Guard to the border won't solve the escalating immigration problem.
updated 1:42 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Sally Kohn: The world's fish and waters are polluted and under threat. Be very careful what fish you eat
updated 8:42 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Les Abend says threat information that pilots respond to is only as good as the intelligence from air traffic controllers. And none of it is a match for a radar-guided missile
updated 8:35 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Frida Ghitis: Anger over MH17 is growing against pro-Russia separatists. It's time for the Dutch government to lead, she writes
updated 8:27 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Julian Zelizer says President Obama called inequality the "defining challenge" of our time but hasn't followed through.
updated 7:57 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Gene Seymour says the 'Rockford Files' actor worked the persona of the principled coward, charming audiences on big and small screen for generations
updated 10:17 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Daniel Treisman says that when the Russian leader tied his fate to the Ukraine separatists, he set the stage for his current risky predicament
updated 12:42 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Andrew Kuchins says urgent diplomacy -- not sanctions -- is needed to de-escalate the conflict in Ukraine that helped lead to the downing of an airliner there.
updated 9:50 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Jim Hall and Peter Goelz say there should be an immediate and thorough investigation into what happened to MH17.
updated 11:07 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Pilot Bill Palmer says main defense commercial jets have against missiles is to avoid flying over conflict areas.
updated 1:55 PM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Valerie Jarrett says that working women should not be discriminated against because they are pregnant.
updated 3:53 PM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
David Wheeler says the next time you get a difficult customer representative, think about recording the call.
updated 3:33 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Newt Gingrich says the more dangerous the world becomes the more Obama hides in a fantasy world.
updated 6:11 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Michael Desch: It's hard to see why anyone, including Russia and its local allies, would have intentionally targeted the Malaysian Airlines flight
updated 3:14 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
LZ Granderson says we must remember our visceral horror at the news of children killed in an airstrike on a Gaza beach next time our politicians talk of war
updated 8:06 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Sally Kohn says now the House GOP wants to sue Obama for not implementing a law fast enough, a law they voted down 50 times, all reason has left the room.
updated 8:14 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
A street sign for Wall Street
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, John McCain and others want to scale back the "too big to fail" banks that put us at risk of another financial collapse.
updated 4:16 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Newt Gingrich writes an open letter to Robert McDonald, the nominee to head the Veterans Administration.
updated 12:01 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Paul Begala says Dick Cheney has caused an inordinate amount of damage yet continues in a relentless effort to revise the history of his failures.
updated 10:04 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Kids who takes cell phones to bed are not sleeping, says Mel Robbins. Make them park their phones with the parents at night.
updated 1:29 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Buzz Aldrin looked at planet Earth as he stood on talcum-like lunar dust 45 years ago. He thinks the next frontier should be Mars.
updated 2:04 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Mark Zeller never thought my Afghan translator would save his life by killing two Taliban fighters who were about to kill him. The Taliban retaliated by placing him on the top of its kill list.
updated 11:18 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Jeff Yang says an all-white cast of Asian characters in cartoonish costumes is racially offensive.
updated 9:24 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Gary Ginsberg says the late John F. Kennedy Jr.'s reaction to an event in 1995 summed up his character
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Meg Urry says most falling space debris lands on the planet harmlessly and with no witnesses.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT