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It's Beyonce-Gate! Not

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
January 24, 2013 -- Updated 1315 GMT (2115 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Beyonce might have lip-synced the national anthem at Obama's inauguration
  • Dean Obeidallah: Too many people go from zero to (faux) outrage in seconds
  • He says performing to prerecorded tracks has been done at previous inaugurals
  • Obeidallah: It's not uncommon for pop stars to lip-sync at very big outdoor events

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog "The Dean's Report" and co-director of the upcoming documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!" Follow him on Twitter: @deanofcomedy.

(CNN) -- "The dignity of the American presidency has been tarnished! Congress must investigate. Let's make sure this type of tragedy never happens again. And how do we know that was really Beyonce? Maybe it was a hologram or a body double!"

The above are just the (slightly) exaggerated responses of some in the cybersphere to the revelation that Beyonce Knowles might have lip-synced all or part of the national anthem at Monday's presidential inauguration.

There are simply too many people in this country who go from zero to (faux) outrage in a matter of nanoseconds. Just look at Twitter and you will see the overuse of capital letters by people who feel CHEATED and ROBBED by the possibility of Beyonce's prerecorded performance.

Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah

The U.S. Marine Band, which provided the musical accompaniment for Beyonce, is neither confirming nor denying that she lip-synced to a prerecorded track, although earlier a spokeswoman said the pop star "did not actually sing." The Marine Band did explain that Beyonce, like all singers at the inauguration, made a recording of the song she was scheduled to sing which would be played "in case of freezing temperatures, equipment failure or extenuating circumstances."

To be honest, if Beyonce did lip sync the entire song she should be nominated for an Emmy award for outstanding acting in a TV Special, because it looked amazingly real. And I worked at "Saturday Night Live" in 2004 when Ashlee Simpson had her infamous lip-syncing meltdown so I have seen up close the horrors of bad lip-syncing.

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It's not that I'm unsympathetic to those who wanted to experience Beyonce singing live. There's truly no substitute for live performances. (Although on nights when I'm tired, I wish I could lip-sync some of my jokes to a prerecorded track, but alas, that's not allowed in my field -- yet.) And true, Kelly Clarkson sang a great version of "My Country 'Tis of Thee" live at the inauguration.

However, to those outraged by the thought of Beyonce's possible lip-syncing, you need to keep a few things in mind. First, there's no dispute that was Beyonce's voice we heard. This isn't a Milli Vanilli type scandal where a singer lip-synced to songs actually sung by others.

Secondly, performing to prerecorded tracks has been done at previous presidential inaugurals as well as at other big outdoor events because of audio concerns posed by weather conditions or technical issues.

Indeed, at President Obama's 2009 inauguration, music legend Yo-Yo Ma mimicked playing his cello to a prerecorded track because the frigid weather would have made it too difficult to play live in tune.

Beyonce sings at inauguration

And at the 2012 Olympic games in London, the majority of musical performances in the opening and closing ceremonies were performed to prerecorded tracks, including ones by iconic bands like The Who and the Rolling Stones, because of acoustic issues with the outdoor venue. (Audience members were told well in advance that some songs would not be performed live.) Obviously, this is not an uncommon practice in special situations.

Plus, this is clearly different than if people had paid to see Beyonce in concert and she lip-synced most, if not all, of her songs. That would have been wrong, just as it was when Britney Spears did it during her 2009 tour. In fact, Britney's overuse of lip-syncing so angered people in Australia that lawmakers there actually considered passing a law requiring that concertgoers be informed if parts of a show will be lip-synced.

Beyonce hasn't responded about whether she did lip-sync. If she did, it could have been for a very valid reason, such as concerns about the weather or acoustics, or maybe nerves -- even superstars must get a little nervous when they see a crowd of close to a million people.

Unfortunately for Beyonce, this issue will not go away quickly, because she's scheduled to perform in less than two weeks during the Super Bowl halftime show. There's no doubt reporters will hound her regarding whether she will be singing live or not. But to me, the real question people should be asking is: Who is going to win the Super Bowl?

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The opinions in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

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