Jennifer Hudson 'lip syncs' the national anthem: How dare she...do what so many others have done?!

Jenniferhudson_lI don’t know about your Super Bowl party, PopWatchers, but at the one I was at, it took my friend Meagan about five seconds to point out that Jennifer Hudson was not singing "The Star Spangled Banner" live. (Producer Rickey Minor confirmed to the Associated Press that Hudson sang to a backing track at his request.) For the record, it took readers of Michael Slezak’s rave review ofJ. Hud’s take on the national anthem about 28 minutes to point out the Oscar winnerwas singing to a backing track, and then y’all were off to the races, some calling the decision disappointing, some wondering what the big deal is. I pretty much side with the latter camp. Unlike Bruce Springsteen, who did sing live during his halftime show, J. Hud was out there by herself, and with a song as deliberately paced and aggressively melodic as "The Star Spangled Banner," the echoes bouncing through that stadium would’ve been all kinds of distracting.

Not to mention the fact that, you know, she’s singing in front of something like a billion people, and for the first time since suffering unfathomable personal tragedy — which is to say, the national anthem is supposed to be a moment of uplift and goosebumps, not a global televised gauntlet thrown down to test a singer’s nerves. Hence, why pretty much everyone who sings the national anthem at the Super Bowl sings it to a backing track. Besides, the cries of "she was lip syncing!" and "Milli Vanilli!" ignore that (a) we were always hearing Hudson’s voice, not some anonymous singer’s, and (b) she definitely was singing — we just couldn’t hear it.

And yet…and yet. J. Hud’s performance truly would have been far more impressive, even legendary, if she’d done it live, and it’s not like they don’t have ear monitors to help solve the reverb issue. But ultimately I think I’m going to cut the woman some slack, if for no other reason than, live or not, that was one of my favorite versions of "The Star Spangled Banner" I’ve ever heard. But what do you think, PopWatchers? Vote in our poll below, and then give us your two cents in the comments!

UPDATE: Hudson’s manager, Damien Smith, confirms to EW’s Simon Vozick-Levinson that Hudson used a pre-recorded backing vocal track at Super Bowl organizers’ request. "Any time you perform the pre-game event, you’re required to give them backing tracks," says Smith. "It’s nothing out of the norm. [But] it definitely was Jennifer singing live — that was her voice."

 

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Comments (135 total) Add your comment
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  • Lori

    Not a big deal at all, she was still amazing. I believe the decision to lip-synch probably has more to do with the producers of the Super Bowl entertainment than anything else. They want the show to go flawlessly to ensure the best possible publicity. The entertainment portion of the event drives ratings among the casual sports fan so the producers want to put a great product out there. Little things like a flubbed lyric, cracked voice, etc. detract from that and, ultimately, the producers want people buzzing about the great performances and not the screw ups. Ultimately, it’s about managing the Super Bowl brand – and avoiding another publicity nightmare like “Nipplegate”!

  • Nose

    I find it really disappointing. I do every time that I hear someone has lip-synched at events like this. I have no doubts about Jennifer Hudson’s talent, let’s get that straight first and foremost. But she’s a singer. She should sing. Obviously, there would have been echoes in such a big stadium, but I don’t think people were expecting it to be slick and over-produced. There really was no reason to do it, in my eyes, unless they felt she couldn’t pull it off. It made everything fake and contrived.

  • Nose

    Just to add to that…why have anyone there “live” to perform at all? Springsteen did it, and while he wasn’t note-perfect the whole way through, he was fantastic. The small deviations from the recorded versions of songs is what makes live performance great. Hell, I could come up with a great ‘performance’ given adequate studio time. Sorry, rant over.

  • Idle Hands

    Hands down, one of the best versions of the Star Spangled Banner anyone has ever sung, anywhere. Can someone remind me again, who won the year she was on American Idol, b/c I don’t know of any idol contestant or winner that could have sung that song as powerfully as she did. Just flawless.

  • Sally in Chicago

    So what?

  • LaToya

    Whitney Houston also lip synched the National Anthem….they all do it

  • Maria

    no big deal at all.. it was still her voice…

  • Leah

    Also remember, they have to time the jets flying over the stadium at the end pretty exactly. If she sang live and was too fast or too slow, it would kind of ruin the moment. Plus, she sounded amazing, and it’s not like she can’t sing live – she was on American Idol, for crying out loud!

  • Dan

    It was so obvious that she was lip-syncing (to herself mind you). I mean her body language was so calm yet she was hitting these astronomically crazy notes. It just didn’t add up. Bottom line though, I would much rather hear a pitch perfect studio recording than a flat live one.

  • Papa

    Why don’t they just do away with the singer live. Just have a recording. That way they could save a bunch of money. Who needs to see the singer if he or she is going to lip sync?

  • Cardsgal

    Idle Hands — The year that Hudson got booted off of AI early and Fantasia won is the season I quit watching the show. I still say that Fantasia makes Macy Gray sound like Pavarotti and no one will ever convince me that her voice is anything but off-key noise.

  • Jackie Jones

    Please be advised that Faith Hill also sung to a track. No big deal!

  • ballen

    Can we talk about something meaningful! We should be welcoming her back with open arms, not criticizing her. It does not matter if it was pre recorded or not pre recorded. It was her voice. A beautiul one! Simple as that!!!

  • Sally in Chicago

    People People — almost all events (from my understanding) are lip synched and in that type of venue, you MUST have great acoustics and sound system. Someone singing live to that big an audience won’t get heard; second, Ricky Minor said all the singers sing the NA recorded, even Faith Hill’s was recorded. So why is everybody picking on Jennifer. Whitney did it too. Stop picking on Jennifer.

  • Moxie

    Not disappointed at all. And…SHOCKER, PEOPLE…the national anthem at the Super Bowl has been lip-synced for years! That’s just the way it is.

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