New Statesman considers why we’re so obsessed with things BEING REAL...

After Beyoncé sang “The Star- Spangled Banner” at Barack Obama’s inauguration, the story got started that she had been lip-syncing. But in several videos available you can clearly hear two Beyoncés: there is a pre-recorded vocal, plus a Beyoncé who is, perfectly obviously, singing live. One would like here to diagnose a mob-like rage for authenticity which fastened on a sacrificial victim with no regard for the justice of its accusations. Tellingly, that Beyoncé removed an earpiece monitor during her performance was taken by the authenticity police as evidence in its own right of the inauthenticity of her act; commentators supposed that taking out the earpiece was too suspiciously ostentatious a demonstration that she had one at all. (Though she probably did it the better to hear her own voice, as singers often do.) This narrative proved impervious to Beyoncé’s subsequent explanation. Because she hadn’t had a proper soundcheck or rehearsal, she said, she decided to leave the pre-recorded vocal in the mix, as a kind of safety net, while she sang live as well. “I decided to sing along with my pre-recorded performance,” is what Beyoncé said – which was immediately taken as a “confession” to the very crime she thereby denied. The story was wrongly headlined on BBC News and elsewhere as “Beyoncé admits to inauguration lip-syncing”.

So, too persuasive a performance of authenticity will be taken as a sign of inauthenticity.


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