Thursday during her Super Bowl presser pop/R&B singer Beyoncé asked the media in attendance to rise, then, surprise, re-sung “The Star Spangled Banner.”
For those who haven’t been paying attention because you were too busy with things such as “lives,” “careers” and “99 problems, but Beyoncé isn’t one,” this was likely due to criticism that she allegedly lip synced her Inaugural performance of the National Anthem back on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day when President Obama was sworn into his second term.
For the record, she sang live to a backing track that also played her voice and the band.
Here’s what she had to say:
I am a perfectionist. And one thing about me, I practice until my feet bleed. And I did not have time to rehearse with the orchestra. It was a live tv show and a very, very important, emotional show for me. One of my proudest moments. Due to the weather, due to the delay and lack of proper sound check, I did not feel comfortable taking a risk. It was about the President and the Inauguration. And I wanted to make him and my country proud. So, I decided to sing along to a pre-recorded track, which is very common in the music industry. And I’m very proud of my performance.
No real surprises there. But the whole time as I watched this I thought – Really? Is this necessary? Everyone already knows she can sing, and unless she was going to whip out a House of Dereon brand time machine, go back to King Day, smash the backing tape to bits, shove herself off the microphone and sing it all over again causing a time paradox … what would this accomplish?
Media (and most viewers) have an attention span maximum of about a week. The week of “did she sing or was it Memorex” was quickly passed over for Hillary Clinton arguing with Republican Congress critters and a new episode of Vh1’s Love and Hip-Hop Original Recipe. (Now with Atlanta-style soap opera editing!) Meaning everyone had wrung as much non-troversy, hits, ratings, page views and comment thread fights as you could get muster of this thing. It was pretty much dead as people were looking forward to Super Bowl Sunday and seeing if Ray Lewis was going to get “raptured” up from the 50 yard line if the Ravens win.
But here comes Beyoncé … posed and ready to silence the haters who’d mostly shut up about four or five days ago.
So why would Beyoncé do this? Naturally, I have some theories.
What Beyoncé re-singing the National Anthem at press conference says about Beyoncé:
PR Newser (among others) thought this move was pretty savvy. They said it made the critics online and in the press “look kinda dumb for making a big deal about this.” Gawker resident Beyoncé super fan Caity Weaver commented “IT’S THE MOST PERFECT SOUND. KILL THE UNBELIEVERS.” (She was exaggerating, but seemed genuinely happy.)
But for me, it didn’t look like a savvy public relations move or, necessarily, a testament to her singing prowess. To me, it just showed that she’s extremely human and like us all is affected by criticism – warranted and unwarranted – and rather than invalidate the argument by ignoring it, she walked right back into it.
As someone who has written their fair share of things people have both loved and hated, I know the feeling. But I also know that most of the time it’s just best to ignore it. People don’t know your life. And they typically don’t care to know. In the case of Beyoncé, they’re going to think what they want to think, as the talent wasn’t the question, but whether or not they were watching a genuine moment or a false one. In the end, it’s a performance of the National Anthem, which happens all the time and is not something that affects most people, like whether or not the debt ceiling would be raised.
But critics don’t care about what is industry standard, or what’s typical, or part of the business unless they’re in the business. To everyone else, that is inside baseball and re-singing is pointless approval seeking.
I get it. We all want to be understood. We want to over-explain. We want to defend ourselves. But sometimes, it’s just not worth it, because it didn’t change anything. It simply reinforced the Beyoncé lover/hater divide.
It didn’t really change my mind. I still think this is a hilarious non-issue. Did it change yours?
Clutch Update: The New York Post, owned by News Corporation, put out this video comparing Beyonce’s Inauguration pre-recorded version and her a capella version …