WASHINGTON – The U.S. Marine Corps beat a hasty retreat Tuesday from a furor over whether Beyonce lip-synced “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama’s public inauguration ceremony.
First, The New York Times quoted a U.S. Marine Band spokeswoman as saying that, just before Beyonce took the stage Monday, the musicians learned a version of the national anthem it had prerecorded with her would be used.
“We don’t know why,” said the spokeswoman, Master Sgt. Kristin duBois. “But that is what we were instructed to do. . . . It’s not because Beyonce can’t sing. We all know Beyonce can sing. We all know the Marine Band can play.”
But later, the Marine Corps said only that a prerecorded version of the band’s musical track was played to the crowd outside the Capitol after Obama was sworn into office for a second term. Since the band did not have a chance to rehearse with Beyonce beforehand, “it was determined that a live performance by the band was ill-advised for such a high-profile event,” it said.
But as for Beyonce’s vocal performance, it added: “No one in the Marine Band is in a position to assess whether it was live or prerecorded.”
Beyonce’s publicist did not respond to emails Tuesday, leaving it unclear as to whether or not the R&B diva had pulled off the biggest karaoke number in the history of U.S. presidential inaugurations, or somehow just mimed the words.
Also unexplained was a black-and-white Instagram photo, supposedly taken Sunday, of Beyonce in a wool beret and cardigan in a recording studio with three soldiers behind her. She appeared to be listening intently to something.
Equally mysterious was why Beyonce removed the ear monitor midway through the song.
Singers performing over an instrumental track might do so if the playback is clashing with what’s coming out of the loudspeakers.