In Defense of Lip-Synching: 5 Artists Who Could Have Used the Help


Everyone is freaking out because Beyoncé lip-synched “The Star-Spangled Banner” at yesterday’s inauguration; you can even compare a clip of her rehearsing with the final version. As Kristin DuBois, a representative for the United States Marine Band, explained, “All music is pre-recorded for the ceremony because there are so many eventualities and conditions that day. We performed, live, the band. But we received last-minute word that Beyoncé was going to use the pre-recorded vocal track. Those were the instructions we were given. We don’t know what the reason why.”

Interesting. But if history has shown us anything, it’s that when you’re performing at a major public event, sometimes erring on the side of pre-recorded caution can be a good thing. Don’t believe us? Here’s all the proof you need.

Christina Aguilera

Here’s a thought: Maybe Beyoncé saw this performance from 2011’s Super Bowl XLV, and decided that she didn’t want to risk botching the lyrics to the national anthem. To her credit, Aguilera kept right on singing — even if she was later forced to release the following public apology: “I can only hope that everyone could feel my love for this country and that the true spirit of its anthem still came through.”

Ozzy Osbourne

We’re not sure: Does it really count as messing up the lyrics when you’re just mumbling to yourself, like Ozzy Osbourne in this 2006 performance of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at a Cubs game?

Lana Del Rey

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams called LDR’s national television debut “one of the worst outings in SNL history” — and he was one of her nicer critics. In the wake of the backlash, there was a rumor — later debunked — that she canceled her tour.

Kanye West

While we’re looking at SNL musical guests, Gawker said that this 2008 performance of “Love Lockdown” by Kanye sounded “disturbingly like a quiet man doing bad karaoke.” That’s what happens when you take away a man’s vocoder. Five years later, watching it still makes us cringe a bit.

Taylor Swift

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When Taylor Swift and Stevie Nicks performed a duet of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” at the 2010 Grammy Awards, one of them was totally flat and off-key due to a “technical problem.” We’ll let you guess which one.