Will Beyonce’s Lip-Syncing Tarnish Image?

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.

Beyonce Inauguration Performance

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.

Beyonce Super Bowl AnnouncementIf 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?

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10 Responses to Will Beyonce’s Lip-Syncing Tarnish Image?

  1. Daniel Rasmussen says:

    This was a very interesting post, Danielle. I think the thing that sets Beyonce apart from Ashlee Simpson and Milli Vanilli is that she has built up such a high reputation that one mistake will not cost her as much as it did for them. I do think it is a bad PR move that she has not made a statement about it because it makes it seem shadier than it may have been. However, like we discussed in the lecture today, she may be waiting on a statement so that she does not turn this into a bigger deal than it already is. It will be interesting to see what happens!

  2. Morgan Theys says:

    I don’t believe that Beyonce’s alleged lip-syncing the National Anthem at the President’s Inauguration will tarnish her reputation. Beyonce truly is America’s golden girl. Because of her respectable reputation, she has accumulated so much admiration. Many will support her through all of her efforts.
    I was actually watching Good Morning America the day after the Inauguration, and the producers of the show actually took out her pre-recorded National Anthem, and Beyonce was actually using her singing voice full force.

  3. Nora Merza says:

    I think the incident is very interesting from a public relations standpoint. I’ve noticed a trend of singers ripped apart following their live performance at a mega event like Super Bowl. For that reason alone, I think Beyonce’s PR firm strategized this and will have her lip-sync this Sunday as well. The firm may have used this event as a test-run to see the reaction and prepare a plan for next week’s performance. I remember Fergie was the most recent artist to perform “poorly” at Super Bowl and I remember social media going crazy and even discussing the newsworthiness of her performance in class. Her fans will forgive her, but her firm wants to guard her reputation as a good singer.

  4. Ben Tolmachoff says:

    I agree with Morgan. As a performer, Beyoncé has built a very strong reputation the past few years, and I believe she and her management staff felt it was not worth it to risk any technical problems for such a big performance. Performing during the inauguration is a huge honor, and it would have been a bigger story if her voice broke or the microphone kept cutting in and out.

    Also, it provided for some good comedy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JI1kq6CA_38), so all in all I think it was worth it.

  5. Jessica Choi says:

    Danielle, nice topic to bring up! I do agree with Morgan Theys and Michael Levine, where Beyonce’s performance will have “virtually no affect of her image.” Beyonce has spent years keeping up her pristine reputation as America’s Golden Girl and although her lip-syncing has caused quite a rise out of fans and audience members, this performance will not be the center of the media’s attention for too long. She has many loyal fans and followers who will support her through thick and thin.

    While I do think her Super Bowl performance may come under scrutiny, Beyonce’s public relations team knows what they are doing and will make sure her performance will be one to never forget.

  6. D'Asia Tate says:

    I think Beyonce’s reputation will be fine. Unlike Ashlee Simpson and Milli Vanilli, Beyonce can actually sing and we’ve heard her singing voice. People, in general, seem to be obsessed with celebrity imperfection and if Beyonce’s real singing voice was less than perfect that day, we would still be scrutinizing her. We don’t want anyone to win and it’s sad that musicians feel pressured to fake performances to please the masses that will find anything to nitpick. She gave a wonderful performance either way.

  7. tmmaguir says:

    Similar to the examples you listed above, there are other artists who have been caught in the act of lip-syncing their own songs, or even messing up a well-known song in public. Christina Aguilera, for example, repeated a verse by accident during her performance of the Star-Spangled Banner only a few years ago. Regardless, she is still producing and selling successful music, along with judging other singers on The X-Factor. In my opinion, Beyonce’s reputation will not be tarnished by her choice to lip-sync. However, people may feel deceived by her trying to convince the public that she was naturally singing the national anthem. Personally, I think she should’ve risked a vocal issue and forgotten about the recordings. Even if she did mess up, who would judge Beyonce for trying her best to sing for the President’s inauguration? People seem angrier that she tried to essentially “put one over” on them. Like most figures in the public eye, this hype is most likely temporary and people will quickly move on to the next big thing.

  8. Tessa Turnbow says:

    I think this lip-syncing case is very interesting because it seems to have left Beyonce unscathed. I think it was smart of her public relations team to not release a statement regarding the incident because that could have made a bigger deal out of the situation. Beyonce definitely redeemed herself at Sunday’s Superbowl. She sang live and gave a great performance. Any harm that may have been done by her lip-syncing of the national anthem seemed to be repaired after the half-time performance.

  9. Minda Elliott says:

    When I was 7 years old, I did a dance to a Jewel song for my dance recital. I can remember my outfit, the flowers my mom brought me, everything all perfectly. I also remember about half way through the performance wanting to run off stage and vomit from stage fright. Obviously I was only 7, and the comparison between myself and a 16-time Grammy Award winner is a little bit of a stretch, but still, give the girl a break! I think it will be fairly easy for Beyonce’s PR team to recover this minor slip in her extremely successful career. She was singing for the President of the United States, on a nationally covered event, and it was cold outside. People of all ages get nervous while performing, and I think she just wanted backup for this extremely important national event. It’s completely understandable that she lip-synched. It was still her singing, and she has openly admitted after the fact that her performance was pre-recorded. You still reign, Queen B!

  10. Chad Koch says:

    It was a great move by Beyonce when she unexpectedly sang the national anthem before her press conference at the Super Bowl. She nailed it and after she finished she jokingly said,”any questions?” I love it. Good for her, and for all the people who were speaking badly about her for lip-syncing at the President’s inauguration should just stop.

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