Was Beyonce right to lip-sync at Obama’s inauguration ?

Was Beyonce right to lip-sync at Obama’s inauguration ?

The Charlatans’ singer Tim Burgess:
“I’m not sure why everyone’s getting their thongs in a twist over the Beyoncé lip-synch-gate thang – it was Obama’s gig not hers; she didn’t want anything to upstage him, which, ironically, she might just have done. Bey was the support. It wasn’t anything about “4 Real” or a credible artist. I watch Homeland, I’m quite well versed in those presidential goings on. There might have been dark forces at work that might have led to Mrs Z’s microphone not working or some such technical issue that would have then overshadowed the real part of what was going on. From what I understand, she definitely sang live – over a recording that she’d already made. It was presidential swearing-in – not a round on a talent show. It’s an updated version of the Bob Dylan “Judas” affair cos he used an electric guitar. When Jay-Z rang up all perturbed about what was being said, I said: “Calm down, Hova. It was what we in the north of England call a belt-and-braces job.” I could hear the relief in his voice as he said goodbye.

Jim Shelley:
“Now look here, Tim. You may have been in one of the most successful British bands of the last 23 years, with dozens of hit singles to your name. But I used to be a music critic. I think we all know who the public are going to agree with here. It’s no wonder you’re arguing in favour of Beyoncé’s disappointing act of deception. Lip-synching is part of the slackers’ charter – the code that pop stars live by. It’s long been established by the Musicians’ Union that it’s somehow OK for “artists” to turn up on the set of some TV show or “live” event, gormlessly mime to their new record and then head for the nearest green room/VIP area to start spending the money on M&Ms and heroin. But this was the president of the United States’ inauguration, the celebration of Barack Obama’s historic second term, and more importantly, it was Beyoncé. Not Cheryl Cole flogging her latest piece of pap on The X Factor. If we can’t rely on Beyoncé to belt out The Star-Spangled Banner, what hope is there for live performances? And not only that, the dance routine was her worst yet.

Tim Burgess:
“I must admit I’m a fan of your musings, but I’ve had a couple of Twitter-based spats with the likes of Joey Barton and Piers Morgan so I can get lowdown and dirty if needs be. Part of all of this is that fact that everything these days is examined under a microscope, dissected and flung out to the world for an opinion that none of the people involved are really that interested in. I’ll not be jumping to the defence of the kind of pop star you mention here. There’s hardly any relation between the conveyor-belt Saturday night pop and real music – they are for different audiences with very different tastes.
It was a freezing cold day and that song is a tough one with its vocal range – I’ve turned down singing it twice at the Superbowl for that very reason. She wasn’t miming to a record; it was a version recorded especially a few days before. It’s not something I’m a fan of but it’s not really the choice of the artist for these gigs. Top of the Pops famously featured lip-synching week in week out – a band simply couldn’t make demands to play live or they’d have been told they weren’t doing it. Beyoncé was almost certainly following the orders of her president and his advisers – a little like I do in my covert role for the CIA. It doesn’t threaten live performances in any way – they exist side by side. Like soap operas and Shakespeare, credible “4 real” live performances and pre-recorded sidelines to inaugurations both have their place.
I am a fan of truffles and I am a fan of Wotsits – it’s not just a case of one or the other.

Jim Shelley:
“You’re obviously right about the levels of scrutiny that our culture exists under nowadays – especially the way Twitter storms can spread like wildfire. Maybe this was why Beyoncé was coerced (by her management or a CIA operative like yourself) into singing to a vocal she had already pre-recorded. Doing a duet with herself in other words. But her performance wasn’t billed this way for good reason: it wasn’t what the occasion called for or what the public wanted to see. It’s live performances that usually make history or connect with us. Director Tom Hooper has reaped the rewards of insisting the actors in Les Misérables, such as Anne Hathaway, sang live during filming.
It’s true what you say about Top of the Pops – the lip-synching itself became historic. Think Paul Weller’s gum-chewing and the various bands who made a point of performing with their instruments upside down (rock’n’roll, eh?). But the really brilliant performances were the occasional live ones – such as New Order’s – that offered a dimension that was so much more interesting than just hearing the record (in New Order’s case, that they were out of tune). The Clash refused to mime on Top of the Pops. But I bet I know whether you would have preferred to see them mime or sing live.

Tim Burgess: The important thing is to hear the song. I have mimed on Top of the Pops and I have done a live vocal to a backing track (that was weird) – it’s the director who decides what is broadcast. We never played Top of the Pops as a live band, never felt we had to protest about keeping music live. We just wanted the song to come across as best it could. If I bought a ticket to a gig and someone was miming I might be a bit bothered but my enjoyment of the inauguration wasn’t affected at all – if anything the canapes, and Barack’s insistence on using his new novelty handshake buzzer on me were much more distracting. He’s quite a joker – he likes to keep the mood light. I still think Beyoncé probably had no choice – it wasn’t really about her and she’d have got away with it if it wasn’t for those pesky close-ups. I think the biggest giveaway was the giant microphone. Kind of aroused suspicions.

Jim Shelley: No wonder you’re in a band called the Charlatans ! Lip-synching is killing music. If we allow it to continue unchallenged, we’ll end up with a lifetime listening to Cheryl Cole – or rather not listening to her. Even contestants on The X Factor won’t be singing live but will be Auto-Tuned. Oh hang on… The bigger the stage, the more it calls for a singer to show us what they’ve got. And I don’t mean earrings like Christmas trees. No doubt Beyoncé and her people were basking in the initial acclaim when such experts as the BBC’s political correspondents in Washington cheered: “She nailed it !” But now, she should be condemned for cynically misleading the public. As you say, she sang into a mic so large it covered her mouth. Prying close-ups were replaced by endless shots of the American flag and a guilty-looking president. Rather than spontaneity or actual mistakes, this kind of manufactured “perfection” is really record company propaganda. It leads to the pop music equivalent of dancing bears: Britney lip-synching so much, her shows are essentially just a series of dance routines or Milli Vanilli, who not only mimed on stage but on their own records.
I’m pretty sure that if/when the Charlatans are asked to perform at a presidential inauguration, you would show Beyoncé how it’s done. And with better earrings.