Beyonce’s Watch-My-Lips-Spangled Banner

Photograph by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Singer Beyonce performs the national anthem during the presidential inauguration in Washington on Jan. 21, 2013.

Updated Jan. 23

Is it Karaoke, if it’s your own song?

Is it real, or is it Memorex?

Beyonce’s lip-synced rendition of the National Anthem at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration wasn’t ground-breaking: Cellist Yo-Yo Ma bow-synced his performance at Obama’s first inauguration because it was so cold there.

Jennifer Hudson lip-synced the National Anthem at the 2009 Super Bowl, and Whitney Houston lipped it at the 1991 Super Bowl.

The Times of London broke the news about Beyonce — The New York Times followed with a tweet: “Beyonce it ain’t so” — with a statement from the Marine Corps Band’s spokeswoman: “We did pre-record it and it was Beyoncé’s decision at the last minute to go with the pre-recorded version. We pre-recorded all music as a matter of course and have done since time immemorial. This is our 54th inauguration… There is no question of there not being any music — it’s not because the performer cannot do it.”

Master Sgt. Kristin duBois of the Band (the Marines’) told the New York Times the weather was favorable and the players were having no troublewith the prelude to the ceremony: “We don’t know why (Beyonce went with the prepared tape). But that is what we were instructed to do so that is what we did. It’s not because Beyoncé can’t sing. We all know Beyoncé can sing. We all know the Marine Band can play.”

Byy Tuesday afternoon, the Marine Corps was backing off duBois’s statement, saying that the band had not played live though was not in a position to know if Beyonce had sung live or not. Capt. Gregory A. Wolf, a Marine Corps spokesman, told the New York Times that the corps had determined that a live performance of the anthem was ill advised because its members had little time to rehearse with the singer.

Aretha Franklin, who performed the National Anthem for Obama’s first inauguration, is quoted by the Daily Mail — they seem to be having no end of fun with this story in Great Britain — as saying:  “’When I heard the news this evening that she was pre-recorded I really laughed. I thought it was funny because the weather down there was about 46 or 44 degrees and for most singers that is just not good singing weather. ‘When I heard that I just really cracked up. I thought it was really funny, but she did a beautiful job with the pre-record.’

Britney Spears and Madonna do it — how is one to dance the way they do and sing on stage at the same time?

Milli Vanilli got a Grammy revoked for taking the Greyhound route through the recording studio: The band-leaders let others do the singing for them.

Ever since former President George H.W. Bush sealed his later-broken 1988 promise not to raise taxes with his “Read My Lips,” Washington has been watching every movement of the mouths at momentous times.

They’ll be watching closely in four more years.

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