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 2:45 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts say Americans are ready for sensible gun laws, but politicians are cowed by the NRA. Everytown for Gun Safety will prove the NRA is not that powerful.
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says Steve Israel is right: Some Republicans encourage anti-Latino prejudice. But that kind of bias is not limited to the GOP.
updated 7:23 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Peggy Drexler counts the ways Phyllis Schlafly's argument that lower pay for women helps them nab a husband is ridiculous.
updated 12:42 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Rick McGahey says Rep. Paul Ryan is signaling his presidential ambitions by appealing to hard core Republican values
updated 11:39 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Paul Saffo says current Google Glasses are doomed to become eBay collectibles, but they are only the leading edge of a surge in wearable tech that will change our lives
updated 2:49 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Kathleen Blee says the KKK and white power or neo-Nazi groups give haters the purpose and urgency to use violence.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Henry Waxman say read deep, and you'll see the federal Keystone pipeline report spells out the pipeline is bad news
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Frida Ghitis says President Obama needs to stop making empty threats against Russia and consider other options
updated 5:29 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say the Kansas Jewish Center killings are part of a string of lethal violence in the U.S. that outstrips al Qaeda-influenced attacks. Why don't we pay more attention?
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Danny Cevallos says families of the passengers on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 need legal counsel
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
David Frum says Russia is on a rampage of mischief while Western leaders and Western alliances charged with keeping the peace hem and haw
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Most adults make the mistakes of hitting the snooze button and of checking emails first thing in the morning, writes Mel Robbins
updated 1:54 PM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
David Wheeler says as middle-class careers continue to disappear, we need a monthly cash payment to everyone
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Democrats need to show more political spine when it comes to the issue of taxes.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Donna Brazile recalls the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act as four presidents honored the heroes of the movement and Lyndon Johnson, who signed the law
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Elmer Smith remembers Chuck Stone, the legendary journalist from Philadelphia who was known as a thorn in the side of police and an advocate for the little guy
updated 2:56 PM EDT, Sun April 13, 2014
Al Franken says Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider, wants to acquire Time Warner Cable, the nation's second-largest cable provider. Should we be concerned?
updated 11:22 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Philip Cook and Kristin Goss says the Pennsylvania stabbing attack, which caused grave injury -- but not death, carries a lesson on guns for policymakers
updated 3:06 PM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Wikipedia lists 105 football movies, but all too many of them are forgettable, writes Mike Downey
updated 10:32 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
John Sutter and hundreds of iReporters set out to run marathons after the bombings -- and learned a lot about the culture of running
updated 12:49 PM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Timothy Stanley says it was cowardly to withdraw the offer of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The university should have done its homework on her narrow views and not made the offer
updated 10:16 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Al Awlaki
Almost three years after his death in a 2011 CIA drone strike in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki continues to inspire violent jihadist extremists in the U.S, writes Peter Bergen
updated 9:21 PM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
David Bianculli says Colbert is a smart, funny interviewer, but ditching his blowhard persona to take over the mainstream late-night role may cost him fans
updated 1:31 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Rep. Paul Ryan says the Republican budget places its trust in the people, not in Washington
updated 5:28 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Aaron David Miller says Obama isn't to blame for Kerry's lack of progress in resolving Mideast talks
updated 11:22 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
David Weinberger says beyond focusing on the horrors of the attack a year ago, it's worth remembering the lessons it taught about strength, the dangers of idle speculation and Boston's solidarity
updated 12:32 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Katherine Newman says the motive for the school stabbing attack in Pennsylvania is not yet known, but research on such rampages turns up similarities in suspects and circumstances
updated 2:39 PM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
Wendy Townsend says the Rattlesnake Roundup -- where thousands of pounds of snakes are killed and tormented -- is barbaric
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT