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Aretha, J-Lo defend Beyonce's inaugural backing tracks

January 23, 2013|By August Brown
  • Singer Beyonce performs the national anthem during the ceremonial inauguration of President Obama at the Capitol.
Singer Beyonce performs the national anthem during the ceremonial inauguration… (Mark Wilson/Getty Images )

The world may never know just what, exactly, was coming through the speakers during Beyonce's performance of the national anthem at Obama's second inaugural Monday.

Fans and critics applauded her virtuoso take on "The Star-Spangled Banner," but then sources at the U.S. Marine Band confirmed that she had used a pre-recorded version, a common practice for large televised events (especially those held outdoors in cold temperatures). It's still unclear whether or not she used an entire backing track and lip-synced, or used a mix of live and pre-recorded vocals.

The Marine Band followed up with a cryptic, almost Donald Rumsfeld-ian "unknown unknowns" walkback: "Regarding Ms. Knowles-Carter's vocal performance, no one in the Marine Band is in a position to assess whether it was live or pre-recorded," Capt. Eric Flanagan said in a more recent statement.

Now other vocalists, including 2009 inaugural singer Aretha Franklin, are coming to Beyonce's defense in the matter. “But, when I heard the news this evening that she was pre-recorded I really laughed. I thought it was funny because the weather down there was about 46 or 44 degrees and for most singers that is just not good singing weather,",” she told ABC News. “When I heard that I just really cracked up. I thought it was really funny, but she did a beautiful job with the pre-record ... next time I'll probably do the same.”

On "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," Jennifer Lopez pulled back the curtain on these types of big public performances, saying, "Sometimes it happens when you are in certain stadiums and certain venues and things, they do pre-record stuff because you're going to have that terrible slap-back."

Of course, leave it to "American Idol's" classiest act, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, to cut right to the quick of what really matters in the story: "Beyonce's so hot she can do anything,” he told TMZ. “Let's just get real."

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