Musician Alicia Keys performs the National Anthem prior to the start of Super Bowl XLVII between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on February 3, 2013 in New Orleans
*A high-profile performance of the National Anthem is the source of controversy for a second straight month.
Just as the Beyonce lip-synching uproar at the Inauguration begins to fade, here comes Alicia Keys and her jazzy rendition of the Star Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl – a performance that was overwhelmingly well received.
“Yes lawd,” gushed Spike Lee of her slowed down take. “American Idol” judge Randy Jackson declared, Keys “killed it.”
But not everyone was impressed. Reader responses to Yahoo! Music’s initial positive coverage of Keys’ anthem were more dismissive, or angry, than laudatory.
“Stop trying to make the national anthem ‘your own’,” said one of the most popular reactions on the site. “It’s not yours. It’s ours collectively. Sing it the way it’s supposed to be sung.”
Later, the same user added, “I never meant to imply she wasn’t a great musician or that she butchered the song in any way. I just feel the National Anthem is one song that should be performed the way it was written and artists shouldn’t try and use it as an opportunity to top the iTunes charts the next morning.”
Within five hours, that diss had 1,098 thumbs-ups on Yahoo!, and only 225 thumbs-down.
Another reader wrote: “One of the worst anthem renditions I have ever seen or heard. What a funeral durge. Too slow.” Hours later, this slam had a similarly imbalanced ratio of 1,058 thumbs in agreement and 248 in opposition.
Dissenting pro-Keys commenters responded in kind: “So…you are basically saying, ‘The song belongs to all of us— now do it the way I want.’”
But some would just as soon take the anthem out of the hands of celebrities in general, to end the alleged showboating. “Forget having all these music industry celebrities sing the national anthem from now on,” wrote a commenter. “Let’s have our military personnel sing it. They will sing it the proper way, and not with all the other b.s. added to it.”
Meanwhile, another contingent of haters had a problem with Keys sitting during the Anthem, even though it was at the piano as she played the song.
“It was disrespectful,” one morning show producer told The Huffington Post. “They had enough time and manpower to think of this before the performance. They could have had her stand at her piano keyboard and sing. To me and a lot of my friends, she sounded great but the visual was wrong.”
“Alicia is a proud American and was honored to perform at the event,” says a publicist who has worked with Keys. “Her slow version of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ was her own arrangement, accompanying herself on the piano, adding ‘living in the home of the brave’ at the end of the song. It’s silly to see how that was being disrespectful.”
Some have assumed this is why the NFL is blocking video of Alicia singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The NFL, however, says the performance has been removed on copyright grounds. “The Star-Spangled Banner” is in the public domain, as it was written before copyright laws existed. However, artists can copyright their own arrangements of it. Whitney Houston did just that in 1991 after she performed a pre-recorded version of the song in the Super Bowl that year.
This has “nothing to do with the content of the performance but a rights issue,” said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, who added that NFL.com plans to post the video shortly.
USA Today is reporting that Keys’ piano rendition was the longest in Super Bowl history, clocking in at 156.4 seconds. Her version surpassed Natalie Cole’s milestone 152-second salute to the Stars and Stripes at the 1994 Super Bowl.
Beyonce performs the National Anthem at the Pepsi Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show Press Conference at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on January 31, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana
*This just in…
During her Super Bowl media day, Beyonce admitted to lip syncing the National Anthem at President Obama’s Inauguration – but only after she belted the anthem live, and acapella, for the press.
When she finished, she simply said, “Any questions?”
Watch below. [Scroll down to hear Bey's explanation for lip synching.]
Beyonce of course was asked why she made the decision to lip-sync. reports TMZ. After admitting to using a backing track, she said “I am a perfectionist … I did not have time to rehearse with the orchestra. It was a live television show and a very important moment for me.”
She added, “Due to the weather, due to the delay, due to no proper sound check, I did not feel comfortable taking the risk … so I decided to sing along with my pre-recorded track, which is very common in the music industry. And I’m very proud of my performance.”
When TMZ asked about a possible Destiny’s Child reunion at this Sunday’s halftime show – Beyonce hedged on the answer.
Singer Beyonce performs the National Anthem during the public ceremonial inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC
*CNN is now reporting that it has confirmation with “an inaugural source” that Beyonce did in fact lip-sync her performance of the National Anthem at the 2013 Inauguration Ceremony.
The Wall Street Journal and Slate magazine insist that the superstar did sing, but used a pre-record to bolster her vocals. However, an unnamed official told CNN: “She did not sing live,” adding that Beyonce made the choice to lip-sync over a pre-record on Sunday night. “Because she didn’t have time to rehearse with the Marine Band, she decided to use her recording with the Marine Band.”
Her vocals were recorded separately, and the Marine Band added their instrumentals later. This decision puzzled the official because during the pre-record the singer was “spot on.”
The Marine Band initially claimed that Beyonce lip-synced her performance, but then backed off the statement. Despite the “scandal,” Beyonce reportedly saw no issue with using the pre-record.
“She didn’t think there was anything wrong with it,” a source told Us Weekly. “Pavarotti has done it! It was freezing out, and if she messed up just one note, that would have been the story.” Adding, “Everybody uses these tracks, and the music director advised it. Any big outdoor live performance is almost always with some kind of track.”
First lady Michelle Obama (L) greets singer Beyonce after she performs the National Anthem during the public ceremonial inauguration for U.S. President Barack Obama on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC.
*The Wall Street Journal says it has obtained audio direct from Beyonce’s microphone that proves she actually did sing the National Anthem live at the Inauguration, but used the pre-recorded track to boost her vocals.
Singer Alicia Keys making a surprise appearance at a volunteer screening of the “The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete” during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival at Library Center Theater on January 17, 2013 in Park City, Utah
*Alicia Keys will join her good friend Beyonce on the Super Bowl performance slate.
The “girl on fire” has been chosen to sing the National Anthem prior to the big game, which will feature Beyonce as the half time entertainment.
The Super Bowl will take place in New Orleans on Feb. 3.
Keys and Bey will follow in the footsteps of Kelly Clarkson and Madonna, who handled the National Anthem and half time show respectively last year.