It's interesting that a tempest in a teapot has surfaced over whether Beyonce lip-synched the National Anthem at the Inauguration. That's ironic, since the swearing-in ceremony itself was a redo — President Obama actually received the oath of office the day before as the law mandates.
As far as Beyonce's alleged lip-synching, here are my thoughts:
It doesn't matter. The rendition was inspirational, brought goose-bumps to most folks I know and was wonderfully appropriate and moving for the occasion.
Reporters have noted the singer was coughing before her appearance and Jay-Z gave her a cough drop afterwards. She may not have been feeling well but persevered and was great.
What could have happened was she was singing along with a sound track in her ear, which is common among vocalists who perform in public ceremonies. Note that at one point, Beyonce yanked the earpiece from her ear and continued, possibly because the background music might have eventually gotten her out of sync. She turned off the automatic pilot and went on "like Luke Skywalker into the Death Star," as one of my friends noted.
When things are recorded nowadays — whether CD or DVD or downloaded — they are done with artists in perfect, pristine studios and conditions where do-overs are permissable and recommended. We don't know how many takes it took for scenes from our favorite movies or downloaded songs.
And even if she lip-synched, if it was her voice — and it was — what's really wrong with that? It's well known that the Star-Spangled Banner is difficult to sing and there's a long lists of artists who have messed up on the complexities of the words and have tumbled into that performance "black hole." If Beyonce had messed up, that would be the headline and many would have criticized her for not taking care to get it right — with all the variables of performing in a public setting, in an outdoor space with questionable acoustics and in cold and uncertain weather conditions. A gaffe would have taken away from the grandeur of the celebration of American democracy, the essence of inaugurations.
You know that ice skating shows where the world-class skaters (or gymnasts also at recorded shows nowadays) go through their routines perfectly in the televised version? If you've been to one of those events, you know what happens. If a skater falls or feels he or she didn't get an aspect of a routine perfectly, they will come back after the initial presentation is recorded and repeat that aspect for the cameras until their satisfaction. And the ideal version of the performance is what is edited for television.
One other thing. Whitney Houston's National Anthem at the 1991 Super Bowl — widely considered the gold standard for public performances of the song — was also reportedly lip-synched.
Whether lip service or not, Beyonce struck the right chords.