Weather Updates

All Beyonce did was apply some lip-gloss

WASHINGTON DC - JANUARY 21:  Singer Beyonce performs National Anthem during public ceremonial inauguratifor U.S. President Barack ObamWest Front

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 21: Singer Beyonce performs the National Anthem during the public ceremonial inauguration for U.S. President Barack Obama on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. Barack Obama was re-elected for a second term as President of the United States. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***

storyidforme: 43548435
tmspicid: 16118830
fileheaderid: 7254268

Updated: February 26, 2013 6:32AM

It’s a good thing our government isn’t running the nation’s finances into the ground or dragging on an overseas war so we can ask the important questions of our officials in Washington. Namely: Did Beyonce actually sing the national anthem during Tuesday’s outdoor inauguration ceremony for President Obama or not?

Lip-syncing became an open secret in the music industry years ago. We’ve all watched hundreds if not thousands of lip-synced performances — on TV, in videos, at live concerts. We may watch more: Adele plans to pre-record her “Skyfall” performance for backup at next month’s Oscars.

So why does Beyonce-gate still have legs?

Because it’s every Am­erican vocalist’s patriotic duty to deliver a pure, live performance of our National Anthem? Hogwash. We didn’t pile on Whitney Houston when she sang what’s cited as the best performance ever of our national ditty at the 1991 Super Bowl — all of which was lip-synced, which is why the performance was packaged and ready for its chart-topping single release exactly two weeks later.

(One has to wonder if a similar recording of Beyonce’s “Star Spangled Banner” is, right now, being digitally and physically shelved in the wake of this manufactured controversy.) Even Chicago’s own Jennifer Hudson gave the song prerecorded lip service at the 2009 Super Bowl.

I, for one, don’t believe that Beyonce was lip-syncing — at least, not in the way we’re talking about lip-syncing.

Because there’s lip-syncing, and there’s lip-stinking.

As we’ve come to think of it in purely black-and-white terms, lip-syncing is lipstick: a cover-up. The record plays, and the singer flaps his or her gums. The previously manufactured music is the only sound, and the mike (or at least the singer) is silent.

Let’s call the other action lip-glossing. Lip-glossing is just that: an enhancement, a bit of extra shine.

MTV just posted an analysis from a veteran sound engineer saying there’s “no question” Beyonce was actually singing.

Fellow singers have chimed in, from Jennifer Lopez (“All performers do have to do it at some point”) to Aretha Franklin (“She did a beautiful job with the pre-record ... next time I’ll probably do the same”).

Beyonce’s own relative silence on the matter — other than posting a photo on Instagram showing her holding “Star Spangled Banner” sheet music inside a recording studio — doesn’t support my view, of course. Maybe she’s waiting for it to blow over. Maybe she feels above this silliness. Maybe it wasn’t actually her singing but one of Manti Te’o’s girlfriends.

Or perhaps she’s too busy rehearsing for her next globally scrutinized performance: Feb. 3 at Super Bowl XLVII.

I’m with singer-songwriter Mike Doughty, who wrote an excellent analysis of the process on Slate and said: “I’m hoping for a flurry of retractions.”

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.