Is It Live or Is It Memorex?
Has Anything Changed Since 1982?
Back then, as the technology craze was happening in recordings, Memorex, a cassette and video tape company, challenged the consumer to decide for themselves, were they listening/viewing a live performance or was the performance recorded on Memorex tape? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZyFcJcZiaU
Now, 31 years later, we have found out that Beyonce Knowles lip synced the US National Anthem at the Presidential Inaugural! Was she afraid she would forget the words, ala Christina Aguilera, while singing the National Anthem at Super Bowl XLV? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZcN04U-gM4.
In Beyonce’s defense, the use of a recording is typical in large events. All inaugural music is pre-recorded in case weather conditions or other circumstances could interrupt the program.
I believe there is a symbiotic relationship between fan and artist. The fan expects the kind of performance they believe can be met. Albeit they just have CD’s/major motion pictures to go on, but, nonetheless, their expectations are what they have been lead to believe. Beyonce Knowles is a great and dynamic vocalist as well as a fine actress. Apparently a bit of a perfectionist as well as she wants to give to her fans the type of performance they expect from her brand, polished and not raw. Hence the recording and not live.
Symbiotic relationships also exist between sponsor and the sponsored as well. Take Lance Armstrong as an example–sponsors might sue to get sponsorship money back! The same money that brought sponsors hundreds of millions of dollars in profits worldwide. Here’s a guy that never phoned it in. He went out there and tried his hardest to win a bicycle race. By doing so, and by doing so for 7 years in a row, in the case of the Tour de France, he put America back on the bicycling map and made American bicycle companies, biking magazines, and their support companies huge amounts of money. Lance went to the ends of the earth (and beyond) to ride his bike by showing up, putting on his race bib and peddling live.
I believe many people feel more of a connection to a “raw” look and sound. People falling off their bikes, NASCAR vehicles crashing, etc. Musically speaking, I can think of albums by: Green Day, Miley Cyrus, Eminem, Sonic Youth, and Crosby/Stills/Nash off the top of my head that recorded that “raw” sound. What about The Grateful Dead and Phish? Great stuff. Raw? Oftentimes you bet!
Is it too much to expect an artist to perform only one tune live? Is it too much to expect a fan to give an artist a pass should it be too cold, too rainy, too whatever? Ok ok, I get it…Yo Yo Ma, the famous classical cellist who performed for Obama’s first inauguration, indicated instruments weren’t functioning properly in 19-degree weather. That works for me as it’s a piece of wood and it’s classical (perfectionist) music.
For this Inaugural, James Taylor showed up and was spot on. Kelly Clarkson showed up and sang like a diva. Maybe because American Idol contestants had to actually sing live and under all circumstances to forward themselves.
I tip my hat to Beyonce for wanting her performance to be perfect but just own it, and not play it up by taking out your ear piece in the middle of your performance. Maybe the concept here is just “label it” for what it is as initially a representative for Beyonce did not immediately respond to requests for comment. (“labeling it” is somehow controversial political issue brought to us by big agriculture. Oh, that’s another blog!).
Milli Vanilli didn’t label it and they got run out of the business. What’s truthful now-a-days? What’s real? Maybe we should ask Manti Te’o?
Beyonce is performing at Super Bowl 2013 this coming Sunday. Who will show up? Will it be Live, or will it be Memorex?
* * *