Beyoncé did not sing the national anthem live at President Obama's inauguration.
Millions of viewers around the world were stunned by the singer's spectacular rendition of the anthem but The Times has learnt that she was lip-syncing to a pre-recorded backing track.
A spokeswoman for the Marine Corp Band said it was standard procedure to record a backing track and Beyoncé decided shortly before her performance to rely on the studio version rather than risk singing it live on the Capitol.
And so, there was a very real reason that it was "flawless," as Caity Weaver gushed after it happened (a Beyoncé fan myself, I was unmoved): Because it was contrived to be so. This has echoes of the Whitney Houston Super Bowl national anthem lip-synching controversy (a recap: officials said it was canned, while Whitney's people said she was singing live just not amplified).
In any case, for a consummate performer such as Beyoncé, whose entire star is based on the perfection of contrivance like she's the queen of beauty queens, this proves is as good at lip-synching as she is everything else. The unneeded ear-piece removal was a glorious touch. And she would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling journalists.
Update: Some people are claiming this video of the performance picks up both Beyoncé singing live and a backing track.
[Image via Getty]