The question that I keep thinking about after news of Beyonce reportedly miming at Barack Obama’s inauguration, is whether it should be commonplace for musicians to mime to their own pre-recorded track?
It is now considered standard procedure for musicians to have a pre-recorded backing track, the track is usually there as a precaution incase there is an issue such as bad weather conditions or equipment failure.
In the case of Beyonce people didn’t seem to mind her miming too much as we are all well aware she is very talented. Apparently a representative from the Marine Corp Band said “there was no opportunity for Ms. Knowles-Carter to rehearse with the Marine Band before the inauguration so it was determined that a live performance by the band was ill-advised for such a high–profile event”.
I just felt like it detracted from the occasion, as there must have been time for rehearsal! But she chose not to sing live for her president and it almost feels like it overshadowed the event.
Plenty of performers now rely on these backing tracks consistently and some musicians like Cheryl Cole (and I use the term ‘musician’ loosely in her case) are essentially reliant on pre-recorded vocals to get themselves through performances. Cole famously mimed her way through the Stand Up To Cancer show, as someone had forgotten to play her pre-recorded vocals. It left the singer whispering the lyrics to her song as she danced (there’s a pretty funny video of it on YouTube if anyone’s interested).
News had also emerged that part of the London Olympics opening ceremony was to be prerecorded and newspapers claimed it was a ‘travesty’. Although the papers may have gone slightly overboard it does seem foolish for musicians to mime their songs and in many cases it is very unfair on the fans who pay a lot of money to see them just opening and closing their mouths.
But if you told that to the likes of Britney Spears, who her management confessed has built her career on prerecorded tracks, I doubt she would bat an eyelid. Spear’s apparently mimed entire live performances of her Circus tour and fans walked out and demanded their money back.
The only valid argument in favor of prerecords would be as mentioned, incase of technical issues, adverse weather conditions in outside performances or illness. Other than that I really don’t think it should be allowed. It would be a good thing for people to see how some current musicians actually sound unaided by technology; people may then appreciate actual good singers more.