Deborah Lopez Mike Doughty isn't going to kid you: "I can't renounce drugs.…
- Posted on Jan 24th 2013 10:43AM by Contessa Gayles
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In an opinion piece for Slate entitled, "Beyonce Wasn't Lip-Syncing: A professional musician goes deep on the inaugural non-scandal," singer-songwriter and former Soul Coughing frontman Mike Doughty vehemently defends Queen B.
"That lady was singing live," he insists. "She sang to a prerecorded track -- a canned band -- and perhaps there was a guide vocal in her earpiece, audible only to her, but that was absolutely a genuine performance."
"A soldier can differentiate one type of gun from another by the sound of it; a bird-watcher can hear the difference between warblers," Doughty continues. "If your job is predicated on microphones -- as an engineer or a singer -- it's not that hard to tell the difference between a live vocal and a prerecorded one. The easiest way to say it would be that a recorded vocal sounds perfect, in the way that a live vocal can't, and, to those who spend time meticulously mixing imperfect vocals to bring them closer to perfection, it's as plain as day."
Doughty goes on to provide video examples of himself, as well as Beyonce, lip-synching in music videos. He asks his readers to note the obvious delay between the audio and the visual in the music videos, compared to the synchronicity of Bey's performance of the national anthem.
"If she was indeed lip-syncing at the inauguration, give her the Nobel Prize in mime," he says.
Doughty cites the variation in volume during Bey's performance in his argument, writing, "Even Beyonce seemingly had to decide which notes were worth the risk of flubbing, when choosing a key to sing it in. She chose the lows, at the beginning of the tune. 'Oh say can you see' is barely audible; that's probably because if the sound engineer mixed the vocal expressly to make her shakier, lower range louder, the big dramatic notes at the end would shriek. A prerecorded vocal would be mixed such that those low notes would be just as audible as the high notes."
And then there is the mic distortion. "Most dramatically, sound waves actually blow around in the wind ... She sings the word 'bursting' a little too close to the mic, causing a little bit of discernible distortion-it's like a subtler version of when you're talking into the mic on your phone, and you suddenly get loud, or too close, and for a moment the voice gets kind of larger and fuzzier."
So what does Mike make of Bey's earpiece? "The sight of her earpiece begat the conspiracy theories," he says, "but an earpiece is not, by any means, a sign of lip-syncing. In-ears are worn by almost all singers who can afford them. Everybody who sings in arenas does. It may sound surprising, but, even for fantastic singers, it can be difficult to sing in tune if you're only hearing yourself on an enormous sound system-overhead, flanking you, and facing not you but the audience. Anybody who would sing outdoors, in the wind, in front of hundreds of thousands of people (and millions on TV), without in-ears would be gambling absurdly."
Finally, for his closing arguments, Doughty invokes Vice President Joe Biden.
"For me, the most compelling evidence that Beyonce was doing it for real is the HELL YES smile on Joe Biden's face. Now, that is, clearly, a dude standing two feet from an electrifying lady singing like a motherfucker."
Unfortunately, Doughty's case doesn't hold up. CNN has confirmed with an unnamed inaugural source that Beyonce did, in fact, lip-synch to a pre-recorded track. "She did not sing live," the official said.