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Editorial: Tell TV audiences the truth about lip-syncing

Published 9:58am Wednesday, January 23, 2013

In the interest of truth and out of American pride, we wish singers and musicians who performed the national anthem and other songs in live settings in front of national TV audiences — such as the Super Bowl, “Saturday Night Live” or presidential inaugurations — and the broadcasters would inform audiences whether the performances were real or recorded.

There was news Tuesday that Beyoncé lip-synced the national anthem Monday at the presidential inauguration ceremony. How many viewers thought that her performance was real, only to be saddened later to learn it was fake? They must feel akin to being lied to.

Sure, we understand that sometimes, when the weather is windy or cold, live performances become difficult and recordings are needed. What harm would it do to tell viewers the truth anyway?

Kelly Clarkson sang “My Country ’Tis of Thee” live Monday in 40-degree weather, and Aretha Franklin sang it live four years ago in 19-degree air. Despite obviously missing a few high notes, audiences praised Franklin’s performance. People are smart enough to know that live singing won’t be pitch perfect.

With singers who are marketed to the masses on the level that Beyoncé is, it is a cop-out to pretend to sing live. What’s worse is that nowadays, it happens so often, TV audiences are trying to decipher whether the singer is actually singing, rather than being thrilled by a performance.

Event organizers who ask singers to sing the “Star-Spangled Banner” ought to find ones who can perform the task. If a national celebrity singer cannot do it but intends to hold a needless microphone anyway, the TV audience ought to be informed that the voice they hear was prerecorded. It’s only honest.