January 22, 2013
Beyonce
Oh say can you hear?

Beyonce was not singing at the inauguration? She was lip-syncing to a pre-recorded track? Is everything a lie?

So Fox News and TMZ are reporting.

This is everything we feared Obama’s second term would be. This is the nightmare. You walk out of the honeymoon-suite bathroom to see your man sitting there in non-matching socks in a tub of lard, watching objectionable online videos, picking his teeth and farting noisily.

Are the masks off? Are we no longer even trying to impress one another anymore? Is this all we have to look forward to?

Beyonce still sounded good, but it’s the principle of the thing. It’s the national anthem! How hard is it to sing it live?

Well, actually … hard. Quite hard.

Maybe this is Francis Scott Key’s fault. He pinned those lyrics to an unsingable song. Should we blame Beyonce for not singing it?

What are those rockets doing up there? Why is the whole first verse a question? I’ve complained of this before, but you do not have citizens of other countries standing proudly with hands over their hearts and straining to sing a drinking song whose lyrics can be summed up in the single phrase, “Pardon me, sir, can you see our flag?” More broadly, why are we singing anything that emerged from the War of 1812, a conflict during which we were unable to prevent invaders burning down the White House?

If Beyonce can’t sing the thing live, who can? Whitney Houston.

Never mind that a willingness to lip-sync a song does not necessarily mark it as impossibly challenging. (Ashlee Simpson’s oeuvre, for example.) Let us seize this moment! Perhaps this is the impetus we require to chuck the national anthem and replace it with a less demanding song, one less calculated to reduce large crowds of Americans to painful squeaking. We are going to have enough challenges on the global stage without this.

On the bright side, Kelly Clarkson at least appears to have sung “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” in real life. Of course she did. It is possible to sing that. Too bad the British have already taken it.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.