<p>Beyonce</p>

Beyonce

Credit: AP Photo

Does it matter if Beyonce was lip-syncing at the Presidential Inaugural?

Do we hold artists up to an impossible standard?

After most pundits and critics (me included) fell all over themselves praising Beyonce’s rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” at Monday’s presidential inauguration, word comes today that she was lip-syncing, according to the Times of London. 

In the ever-evolving story, first U.S. Marine Band spokeswoman Kristen DuBois stated that Beyonce decided to lip-synch to a recording of her own voice at the last minute on Monday. We know Beyonce recorded a version because she sent an Instagram photo of herself reviewing the music the day before and footage of the recording leaked out by Monday morning.

After the attendant brouhaha, the Marine Corps (which accompanied Beyonce and were also, apparently, on tape) walked back the statement, as they say in government speak, releasing a statement that said they weren’t sure what had happened and that they, according to CNN, weren’t in a position  “to assess whether [Beyonce’s vocal performance] was live or pre-recorded.”

The Marine Corps statement went on to explain that the musical pieces are always pre-recorded to allow for extenuating circumstances. For example, four years ago, cellist Yo-Yo Ma played to a pre-recorded track because it was too cold for his fingers to do what he needed them to do to sound good.

But then, Jezebel linked to this version, which is a different feed than the one run by the networks, to indicate that she was singing live and the sound we hear is the echo, not her singing along to her own pre-recorded vocal.

The bigger question is does it matter?  It’s clearly her singing, so what’s the harm if it’s not live?

As we learned from Watergate and from practically every political scandal since, it isn’t so much the crime as the cover-up. When Beyonce pulled out one of her in-ear monitors mid-performance, whether intentional or not, that was a signal that she was singing live and needed to adjust the arrangement she was hearing in her ears in order to sing to the best of her ability. If she was lip-syncing all along, why make that kind of gesture?

The gold standard by which all other versions of the National Anthem are judged is Whitney Houston’s version at the 1992 Super Bowl.  Following her blockbuster performance came word that she too was lip-synching. It’s too hard a song to sing and there are too many variables when performing outside, especially in cold weather, to mess around with it.

After the initial uproar, and after the Super Bowl folks explained that they always pre-tape the National Anthem just in case, the furor died down and 20 years later, Houston’s version is now seen as the definitive.

Beyonce’s representative, whom we reached out to, has declined to comment to anyone. But as the story began trending today, a new theory emerged, which is that Beyonce was singing live to her own taped version and that is why she pulled out the ear piece.

I honestly don’t know if it matters. What I do know is that the pressure put on performers to be perfect live is unrealistic, especially in a setting such as Mondays: very, very cold temperatures that can play havoc with vocal chords and nerves that can trip the finest artist up.  When an artist does sing live and muffles it, such as Christina Aguilera did at the Super Bowl a few years ago, they never hear the end of it. When they lip-sync to their own voice so there won’t be any mistakes, they get criticized for that too.

The weird thing about Beyonce’s performance and part of what makes it so hard to tell, is that she starts off softly and a little wobbly, so it seems like if she was lip-syncing, they would have made her intro stronger. 

All I know is no one seems to know for sure. There’s a hot debate going on on a top music producer’s page on Facebook and even the studio cats can’t seem to decide for sure . (Both Kelly Clarkson and James Taylor’s reps have gone on the record stating that they were singing live).

The one thing I definitely know: Beyonce  is not the main story we should be taking away from yesterday’s festivities.

Do you think she was singing live? Does it matter?

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<p>Vampire Weekend</p>

Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend's new album will come out May 7

Band goes for a more 'organic' sound

Vampire Weekend will release its next album May 7.

The group posted the words “Vampire Weekend LP3 COMPLETE” over Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze's famous painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware River on its website. The image alternates with a shot of the quartet on a bridge with the dates May 6/7 (May 6 will be the ex-U.S. release date). It’s the band’s first album since 2010’s “Contra.”  The group had confirmed a new album would appear in 2013, but now we have an actual release date.

It took almost two years of writing and recording to complete the still-untitled set, Vampire Weekend singer/guitarist Ezra Koenig told Rolling Stone.   “Sometimes we thought we were done, but it’s always very apparent when you’re not.”

He and multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij wrote the set, which includes “Unbelievers,”  a tune the group played on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” last October, as well as a rockabilly-oriented track called “Diane Young" and another called "Obvious Bicycle."

The album has a more organic sound, according to Koenig. “Things that we might have found boring in the past, we’ve started to find more fresh. This record has more piano and acoustic guitar and organ,” he told the magazine.
 

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<p>Lady Antebellum</p>

Lady Antebellum

Listen: Lady Antebellum's new single, 'Downtown'

What do you think of the change of pace?

Lady Antebellum is upping the sassy level on “Downtown,” the group’s first single from its forthcoming fourth studio album.

The song, written by Luke Laird, Shane McAnally and Natalie Hemby,  features Hillary Scott on lead. It's  a twangy, Americana, rootsy tune with a fun bluesy guitar lead that has more in common with Bonnie Raitt than Taylor Swift. It's a spare, airy production. Listen to it in full here.

Scott wants her boy to treat her right and take her downtown instead of acting like, well, a jerk.

“I’m only counting on your cancellation when I should be counting on you at my door,” she complains. And I’m pretty sure “downtown” has a few different interpretations here if you want to take it that way. It’s a little change of pace for Lady A.

The group will debut the track on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” on Jan. 28, one night before it tapes an episode of CMT’s “Crossroads” with Stevie Nicks. The trio will also perform the tune on CBS’s “The Talk” on Feb. 6.

No word on a release date on the new album yet, but it looks like Lady A is not slowing down at all during Scott's pregnancy other than cancelling a few dates right around the time she's due in late spring/early summer.


What do you think of the breezy "Downtown?"

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Listen: Paramore's propulsive new single 'Now'

Listen: Paramore's propulsive new single 'Now'

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See cover art for 'Paramore' and the track listing

Paramore’s Hayley Williams channels Gwen Stefani and Amy Lee on the propulsive single, “Now,” the group’s first single from its forthcoming self-titled album, out April 9.

[More after the jump...]

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Watch: Kelly Clarkson sings 'My Country, 'Tis of Thee' at Inauguration

Watch: Kelly Clarkson sings 'My Country, 'Tis of Thee' at Inauguration

'American Idol' winner thanks Obama for 'opening for me'

Kelly Clarkson traveled from  “American Idol” to the American inauguration of President Barack Obama today, singing a stirring rendition of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.”

[More after the jump...]

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Watch: Beyonce performs 'Star-Spangled Banner' at Inauguration

Watch: Beyonce performs 'Star-Spangled Banner' at Inauguration

Does she hit it out of the National Mall?

On this uniquely American day, Beyonce added her own stamp to Barack Obama’s second inauguration as president of the United States.

[More after the jump...]

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The Postal Service to reunite for Coachella and other dates

The Postal Service to reunite for Coachella and other dates

Deluxe edition of 2003's 'Give Up' also coming

After Ben Gibbard emphatically declared in October to Spinner that there were no plans to record a second Postal Service record, the duo will reunite to play Coachella, according to Billboard. Additional dates are expected to be announced.

Additionally, Death Cab for Cutie’s Gibbard and his Postal Service partner Jimmy Tamborello have collaborated on a deluxe 10th anniversary package of “Give Up,” the pair’s one and only album. It will come out next month. The original set came out Feb. 19, 2004.

The band launched a new website today. It’s scant on details, to put it mildly, but definitely signals that The Postal Service is back in business. It features the band’s logo against a black background and “2013.”

“Give Up” spawned the hit “Such Great Heights” and sold more than 1 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Coachella takes place April 12-14 and April 19-21.

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Look: Photos of Justin Timberlake recording 'The 20/20 Experience"

Look: Photos of Justin Timberlake recording 'The 20/20 Experience"

He and Timbaland are clearly hard at work

Check out photos of Justin Timberlake in the studio, recording his new album, “The 20/20 Experience.”

Timberlake tweeted a link to the photos Sunday night.  The three black and white stills (he’s clearly working a theme: his Jan. 10 video announcing his comeback was also shot in black and white) show him and producer Timbaland studiously (or quizzically) listening to someone/something we don’t see. You can tell Timberlake is serious because he has on his glasses and he’s chewing on a toothpick.

The next shot shows him playing an acoustic guitar sitting by the console (the recording booth is on the other side of the glass, Justin!). The third show shows him recording vocals. He’s holding his iPhone in his hand, so maybe he hasn’t quite learned the lyrics yet.

A few minutes after posting the photos, Timberlake tweeted how excited he was that the San Francisco 49ers will play the Baltimore Ravens in Feb. 3 Super Bowl. He added “Can’t wait! I’m booking my flight to New Orleans right now!” Then followed with “Oh wait... I don’t have tickets. Dammit! Anybody know anybody?? LOL!”

We’d say that the NFL is already on it, but we’re not sure how welcome back Timberlake is after playing a big role in Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show. Maybe as long as he stays on the sidelines....

Timberlake released "Suit & Tie," he first single from "The 20/20 Experience" at midnight Jan. 14. The song quickly soared to the top of the iTunes songs chart and is expected to leap into the Top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100 this week based on digital download sales of between 350,000 and 400,000.

 

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<p>A$AP Rocky</p>

A$AP Rocky

Will A$AP Rocky live long and prosper atop the Billboard 200 album chart?

New set is one of two slated to enter the Top 10

A$AP Rocky’s “Long.Live.A$AP” will handily top the Billboard 200 album chart next week with projected sales of up to 150,000.

The hip-hop artist’s latest set, which features Kendrick Lamar, Santigold, Drake, 2 Chainz and more, will easily surpass the only other debut in the Top 10, the 865th volume of Kidz Bop Kids, which will come in at No. 2 with up to 70,000 copies. (OK, we admit, it’s only “Kidz Bop 23”).

The rest of the Top 10 is filled with familiar faces: The soundtrack to “Les Miserables” will be at No. 3 with 45,000 units sold, according to Hits Daily Double. Bruno Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox,” the soundtrack to “Pitch Perfect,” and Taylor Swift’s “Red” are all too close to call for the Nos. 4, 5, and 6 slots, with each targeted to sell between 35,000 and 40,000.

The Lumineers’ self-titled set will come in at No. 7, followed by fellow folk rockers Mumford & Sons’ “Babel” at No. 8, Phillip Phillips’ “The World From The Side Of the Moon” at No. 9 and One Direction’s “Take Me Home” at No. 10.  This week’s No. 1 title, Chris Tomlin’s “Burning Lights”  likely falls to No. 11.


 

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<p>Bruno Mars</p>

Bruno Mars

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Bruno Mars' 'Locked Out Of Heaven' remix by M Machine

Would you like a little dubstep with that?

Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out Of Heaven” has taken up residency at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and now he’s going for club domination.

Check out this dubstep remix of the tune by M Machine. The trio’s version is on “Jukebox,” an album featuring remixes of tunes from Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox.” The remix set comes out Tuesday (21), according to Rolling Stone.  Listen to it here.

How do you like it? It adds a nice dimension to the song, but being a pop baby myself, i still prefer the original. This version takes out some of the giddiness out and eliminates Mars’ infectious “Woah, woah, woahs,” but it has a great peppy section around 2:40. Plus, it has "beep beeps." Still, I give the advantage to Mars.

M Machine’s new EP, “Metropolis Pt. Two,” drops Feb. 19 on Skrillex’s label, OWSLA.

 

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