Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Production Experts Dispel the LIE That Beyonce Lip Synced the National Anthem

Beyonce DIDN’T mime at the inauguration. BUT…

…she did sing along with a pre-recorded backing.
The video above clearly shows Beyonce singing live at President Obama’s inauguration, despite the fact that many news outlets are claiming she mimed.
You can also clearly hear the pre-recorded backing in the video, made earlier in case of technical problems. (Thanks to Daniel Holter for posting a heads-up on this video.)
But the live vocal is the one most people heard.

The evidence

You can tell by listening carefully to the two performances audible in the video above and comparing them to this live feed:

For more clues that she sang live, listen for these points:
  1. When she starts singing, her voice is hard to hear – the microphone gain is too low. The sound-man quickly corrects this – but if we were listening to a recording this wouldn’t happen – in fact back-up recordings are used to solve exactly this kind of problem.
  2. At 1’16″ in the video above, she tilts her head slightly closer to the mic and the sound gets suddenly more bassy. This is because of an acoustic effect known as the “proximity effect”.
  3. At 1’52″ she takes out one of her earpieces. Some people are citing this as more evidence she was lip-syncing, but in fact it’s what singers do when they’re having trouble hearing the pitch of their own voice through the earpiece. By taking it out, she can hear her own voice more clearly and sing in tune more easily. (In fact, if the pre-recorded vocal was going to her earpiece, she may well have been finding it distracting.)
  4. At 2’17″ she smiles slightly, and you can hear this “smile” in her voice.
None of these clues are conclusive, but to fake all of them, plus the details of the performance itself, would make Beyonce the best lip-sync artist in the world !
And anyone who has heard her sing live knows that’s not where her true talents lie…

So why are people saying Beyonce mimed ?

Because the band did mime.
Why ? Probably because it can be next to impossible for a large group of musicians to play in tune in extremely hot or cold temperatures – and it was cold at the inauguration.
The original “reports” were confirmed by players in the band, who said that Beyonce asked for the pre-recorded backing, and that’s almost certainly true. (The band has since issued a formal statement saying that “no one in the Marine Band is in a position to assess whether it was live or pre-recorded.”)
Any singer would find it seriously difficult to put on a great performance to a band that was struggling to play in tune, and for something this high-profile it’s understandable that you’d want the best chance to get it right.
But the video at the top of this post uses both audio feeds, probably by mistake, and combined with the other clues leaves me in no doubt that Beyonce sang live – and that her live performance is what most people heard.


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