Beyonce’s performance of the Star-Spangled Banner took a prime spot in Inauguration Day media coverage when the 16-time Grammy Award-winning pop star came under fire for allegedly lip-syncing the national anthem.
An inaugural official soon confirmed that the star did indeed choose to use a pre-recorded performance at the last minute due to the chilly 40 degree weather on Inauguration Day. Singing in cold weather can cause dryness in the vocal track, resulting in a vocal cracking or an overall lesser performance, such as that Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin said she experienced after waiting in the cold to sing at the 2009 presidential inauguration.
If we check how she announced her upcoming Super Bowl performance, it is clear that Beyonce’s public relations team is usually on top of keeping the “Love on Top” singer’s image in tip-top shape, which leads to a tough question for public relations practitioners. In this case, what was more important–Beyonce’s valuable vocal cords or her pristine reputation? If she had performed live and her voice had cracked, would this have been scrutinized more than using the pre-recorded performance?
Beyonce certainly isn’t the first star to experience extreme publicity (positive or negative) from a not-so-live performance. Celebs, such as Ashlee Simpson and Milli Vanilli, experienced negative media coverage after lip-syncing their performances. Adversely, Whitney Houston’s 1991 Super Bowl performance of the national anthem was lip-synced and went on to be one of her best-selling singles. Jennifer Lopez and Aretha Franklin defended Beyonce, saying that certain occasions in certain venues require pre-recorded performances due to timing issues with the music.
On ABC News, celebrity publicist Michael Levine ensures Beyonce’s current reputation as a “public relations golden girl” means this performance will have virtually no effect on her image, but could it? Will fans forgive and forget or will it take an overly spectacular Super Bowl performance to win back people’s trust?