Jan. 23, 2013 at 2:19 PM ET
Beyonce, one of pop music's most beloved stars, is accused of lip-synching and America is fuming.
Social media exploded Tuesday as outraged fans blasted the Grammy winner over allegations that she mouthed along to a pre-recorded version of “The Star Spangled Banner” during the Presidential Inauguration.
"It proves that she is not an authentic artist," Ave Maria Pospieck-Schnerr of Philadelphia wrote on TODAY's official Facebook page. "She can't sing on que [sic] live and sound perfect ... proves that she duped the many people watching who thought she was singing live and it proves she is a phony."
The sudden controversy -- which comes just two weeks before a scheduled performance at the Super Bowl -- has many concerned fans wondering if the singer will be able to recover from the public relations nightmare, while others are simply asking “what’s the big deal?"
"I guess it all boils down to the fact that lip-synching is, bottom line, a form of fakery," says Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University. "If you watch it, you are supposed to think this person is really singing -- and in fact she is simply moving her lips. Lip-synching, for whatever reason, is one of those things that everyone sinks their teeth into -- even though everyone knows it occurs in some very respected venues."
Lip-synching is somewhat of a time honored tradition that dates back to the days of variety television in the 1960s. Almost no one sang live on shows like "American Bandstand" and "Solid Gold." Today, it is still common for acts to "sing" over pre-recorded tracks -- especially at large live events where acoustics can be challenging to control.
The inauguration is one such event, and given its pageantry there is little room for error; recording as much as possible ahead of time ensures a smooth performance with a predictable outcome. At such an event the bar for integrity is also higher though, and Thompson contends it was maintained.
"If Beyonce had been lip-synching to somebody else’s voice -- or her own voice from 10 years ago -- that would be one thing," Thompson tells TODAY.com. "But she was lip-synching to her own voice in a recording that was [reportedly] made on Sunday ... Beyonce should be able to lip-synch to something she recorded 24 hours earlier."
Still, there will always be envious onlookers -- especially online -- who will seize any opportunity to point out a celebrity’s flaws.
"Beyonce is such an admired and therefore envied figure," says psychiatrist and frequent TODAY contributor Dr. Gail Saltz. "She is beautiful, talented, wealthy, famous. She has everything that people want. And in this world, the bigger you are, the more people want to see you fall hard."
Saltz attributes some of the vitriol with the abundance of social media outlets that offer a way of expressing it.
"Social media allows people who are angrier, vengeful and want to be able to say negative things to have their voice," Saltz says. "We tend to hear more from people with negative comments online because they can hide behind the screen."
So far, the singer’s camp is not offering any official statement or insight about the performance. But the singer has proudly posted a slew of photos from the event on her Tumblr account that seem to show her rehearsing for Monday’s event.
Late Tuesday, a Marine Corps spokesperson issued a statement saying that since the singer was unable to secure rehearsal time with the band, it was determined she would perform to a pre-recorded track. "Regarding Ms. Knowles-Carter's vocal performance," the statement said, "no one in the Marine Band is in a position to assess whether it was live or pre-recorded."
Regardless of the outrage or the support for the singer, it looks like that as far as this controversy goes, Beyonce will have the last word.