Backstory

What’s the big deal?

A+
A
A-

BEYONCÉ. File photo

I’d like to call it “Much Ado Over Nothing.”

At the recent inauguration of United States President Barack Obama, quite a few of the music industry’s most talented artists were gathered to perform.

Opening the ceremonies was Beyoncé, undoubtedly a gifted vocalist. Her rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was stirring.

There is a bit of a brouhaha about the possibility that she lip-synched that performance. Adding insult to injury, Kelly Clarkson’s sung “My Country, ’Tis of Thee” live.

There are conflicting reports, one of which says it wasn’t Beyoncé that did the lip-synching; it was the marine band that accompanied her. (I never thought musicians could fake it.) But at the end of the day, the question I’m asking is, who cares?

Lip-synching is common enough. Seems everyone does it here—at least movie stars not known for their singing abilities.

Back in the day, singers promoting new singles would bring along an open reel containing their music. The spinner would then play it, and the singer would lip-synch to the prerecorded track. No big deal.

Nowadays, on TV variety shows like “ASAP” and “Party Pilipinas,” singers perform live. A live band plays in the background and the singers let it rip. I love the integrity of this practice, despite the risks that live singing can bring.

At major concerts by artists like Madonna and Janet Jackson, certain numbers are sung to track (with the band playing along) because of the strenuous dance numbers involved. The jumping around can shake a human voice. Try singing/dancing “Oppa Gangnam Style.”

Which brings me back to Beyoncé. As an audience member, I am very forgiving of a singer who decides to take the safer route. In this instance, Beyoncé had possibly billions of eyes trained on her, and we don’t know what went on prior to the event.

She could have lost her voice to a significant enough degree. (Any little sablay would have been cause for great criticism, just the same.)

There are times a prerecord is mandatory. During the Olympics or other large-scale sports gatherings where arenas and stadiums are veritable sound headaches, artists normally lip-synch.

I sang at the Asian Games in December 2006; my prerecord was done the previous July. So yeah, I’ve done it, and there’s no doubt that I can carry a tune.

For that event, I had to stand many, many feet above the ground on an elevated platform with a nice breeze blowing. I was terrified and extremely nervous; I was thankful that I was required to lip-synch.

I also prerecorded “A Whole New World” with Brad Kane for the 65th Oscars in 1992. We were prepared to sing live. But during the rehearsal, the forklift that was supposed to raise our magic carpet was too loud. The noise bled into our body mics; we had no choice but to employ the recording.

At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter. It does not, and should not, take away from who Beyoncé is and all that she’s achieved. Speaking of which, she sang everything live at the recent Super Bowl. And she was effing amazing.

Congratulations

I am so proud of “Allegiance,” and now it’s officially award-winning! At the Craig Noel Awards held Monday evening in La Jolla, California, “Allegiance” took home three trophies: Best Performance by a Featured Actor (Michael K. Lee), Best Orchestrations (Lynne Shankel) and Best New Musical. To everyone involved with our musical, most notably George Takei, our inspiration every single day, I send a hearty CONGRATULATIONS! Oh my goodness, we did it!

It’s time to take it up a notch… onward and upward to Broadway.

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • colliev

    I recorded Lea’s singing at the Oscar’s and have watched and listened to it a million times.
    I am not a singer but I was really surprised of her revelation that it was pre-recorded. They did
    a good job and Lea’s voice was overpowering. I have read that some leading actresses in
    musicals do not win awards if they pre-recorded their voices, or used somebody else’s
    voice. I think it also needs skills and talents to do that.but originality and live performances really count.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/YUPTR74K53VYUNARYFMWLOI67M Michaelangelo

      Spot on, my friend. But sometimes conditions may arise that will require lip-syncing, as stated by Lea above.

  • agxo3

    the notion that lip syncing what is supposed to be a live performance simply highlights the lack of honesty and integrity in much more than the music field. there’s a reason why Milli Vanilli (remember them?) had their award taken away from them, and their career basically ended. At one time, integrity and honesty were highly prized – even demanded – of public figures. Now, it seems, quality standards, and the demands we make of the people we pay so much money to perfrom for us, have eroded considerably. And that’s WRONG.

    would you accept a recorded Picasso in place of a real one if you’ve paid for the real thing? I think not.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/YUPTR74K53VYUNARYFMWLOI67M Michaelangelo

      Wrong. Milli Vanilli’s carreer ended because what they did was nothing compared to artists lip-syncing their OWN recorded material because of necessity arising out of unavoidable conditions (as what Lea is pointing out in her article); those idiots were using and lip-syncing material THEY DIDN’T WRITE, PERFORM, & RECORD in the studio in the first place, and so they never had any real live sung performance at all! Remember when The Real Milli Vanilli came out after the scandal?

  • glassinmyhead

    I’m really disappointed with Lea’s revelations… really… Maybe, I’m naive but I expect the singers that I admire to sing live.  And I admired Beyonce and Lea a lot. (When I was younger, I even got into a heated argument with my sister over the importance of Lea not just as an Asian artist, but as a world artist, period and I thought my arguments stood the test of time.)  If these two great singers cannot sing live during the biggest occasions (for which they were specifically picked because of their greatness as singers and performers), what distinguishes them from the pretenders such as Madonna and JLo?  Besides, we cherished Beyonce’s and Lea’s greatest “live” performances because we thought these were really live!  And now Lea is saying it ain’t. And it really bothers me that if nobody had leaked Beyonce inaugural lip-synching,  the world would have gone on thinking how great and mighty Beyonce was for singing that way in front of millions of people in a historical moment blah blah blah and she would have basked in the world’s admiration and she would have kept that secret to her grave. Don’t you think that just sucks, no matter how anybody tries to cut it? Part of my world — the part where fascination for human talent springs — just suffered a very deep crack…

    (PS:  At least Lea is honest about it… but still it sucks!)

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/YUPTR74K53VYUNARYFMWLOI67M Michaelangelo

      You totally missed the point of Lea Salonga’s explanation in her article, which really shows how “naive” you are. You really have to put yourself in the artist’s shoes to understand.

    • madam01

       you seemed not to understand the reason why singers are required to lipsync. it’s the circumstance that required it and not just simply because singers don’t feel like singing. wouldn’t you be bothered of hearing the forklift mixed with the leah’s and brad’s voices? would you enjoy it?

  • tuk moll

    I also don’t care that Beyonce lip-synched — it’s understandable, actually preferable, given the circumstances. For example, we all knew that Yo yo Ma also employed his recorded music in the 1st inauguration simply because his instrument won’t work in freezing temperature.

    My issue has to do with Beyonce seemingly making it appear like she was singing live — did she really need to adjust the earpiece if she’s lip-synching? I think she’s trying to show she’s singing live and having issues with the earpiece.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/YUPTR74K53VYUNARYFMWLOI67M Michaelangelo

      You’re wrong, the earpiece is not there as a prop. I can tell that she just couldn’t hear the backing track coming out of the in-ear monitor which allows her to lip-sync properly. I’m a musician, and what we do is to “adjust” the earpiece to politely signal the sound guy to adjust the volume accordingly. Just because an artist lip-syncs his/her performance doesn’t mean that he/she doesn’t need an audio monitor to guide her through it, right?

  • hustlergalore

    beyonce’s la fway, la fway by bad lip reading

    www[dot]youtube[dot]com/watch?v=JI1kq6CA_38

    LOL

  • hustlergalore

    sumasayaw kasi si beyonce while singing US national anthem kaya kailangan pre-recorded. LOL

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_X7ZXAWDLJZ4YDF2BTYTFXBNNEU ISCA

    If you know the Americans, then you will know that singing the  “The Star-Spangled Banner”  live in a big event is a must. And you need to sing it right.
    Take for example the Super Bowl (American Football, NFL for those who don’t know). Every Kano is scrutinizing the singing of the anthem before the game. They expect the artist to sing it live and  sing it good.
    For us Pinoys, it’s nothing. But for the Kano, it’s everything.
    (Oh, Lea, you shld also browse the net more. Beyonce has already said she did lipsnyched. And sang the anthem acappella. End of conflict.)

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/BV6DWTSUHKJGFANJJ5P3WPPTQM Paul

       then they should have played the song sans the singer…a simple stup8*&%y.

    • Jasmin Mariano

      Actually, what Beyonce admitted was that she “sang-along” with the pre-recorded track. There’s a big difference between “lip-syncing” (which is moving your lips WITHOUT any sound coming out of your vocal chords) and “singing along” (which is literally singing ALONG with the pre-recorded track). Watch the entire Super Bowl Press Conference video, it was asked around 12 minutes (after the question about her ‘performing’ at the Grammy’s). It’s available on Youtube (BeyonceOnTopdotcom was the uploader).

  • teraytaray

    I’m surprised that people do not know that artists sometimes lip synched during live performance. I mean, can you imagine JLo’s voice when she performed in Grammy Awards (?) singing live? Hindi nyo na siguro sya maririnig sa klase ng dance number na ginawa nya. Try to watch musicals live, lalo yung mga may sayawan, maririnig nyo mga singers buo pa rin boses, walang out of breath sound.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/OV52HITJPMWQKZYH4UNKAGYZ3M Cherrie

    It is understandable that Ms. Salonga would not mind lip-synching because she did the same. But the issue here is that in a BIG event such as the Presidential inauguration, a performer is selected with the assumption that he/she is the best and therefore confident enough to perform live. Unfortunately, Beyonce is way too over-rated!

  • AllaMo

    It is too, much ado about something. There is something called professionalism. And, having lip-synched, in some venue or other, does not lend professional sheen to doing it. Ms. Salonga can choose to shrug it off. Others may choose to be critical of the none-true-performance. And, justifiably so.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94