Beyonce got a peck on the cheek from President Obama after she sang The Star-Spangled Banner at his inauguration ceremony in Washington on January 21. Now we are told she may have lip-synced her performance over a recording she had made earlier.
The US Marine Band, which provided the musical accompaniment for Beyonce, is neither confirming nor denying that she lip-synced to a prerecorded track, although earlier a spokeswoman said the pop star “did not actually sing”, reports CNN. The Marine Band did explain that Beyonce, like all singers at the inauguration, made a recording of the song she was scheduled to sing which would be played “in case of freezing temperatures, equipment failure or extenuating circumstances”.
If Beyonce lip-synced, it was unbeknownst to her fans. They have reacted with predictable outrage.
You don’t often come across the word “unbeknownst” in the news, but there it was in The Times’ gleeful account of the incident:
It was the most celebrated rendition of America’s national anthem in a generation, but Beyoncé had left nothing to chance.
Hundreds of thousands who were huddled on the icy Washington Mall erupted in cheers when she hit the notoriously difficult climax of the Star-Spangled Banner. As she ripped out her ear-piece and reached for the peak, the plaudits rushed in from around the world. President Obama was among the first to offer his congratulations with a kiss on the cheek.
Unbeknownst to millions of viewers, however, The Times has learned that the perfect note had been struck in advance…
The Times got it absolutely right. No other word would have done. Watching her on television or this YouTube video, you would have never known she was lip-syncing.
The Collins Cobuild Advanced Learner’s English Dictionary notes:
If something happens unbeknown or unbeknownst to you, you do not know about it.
“Unbeknownst” sounds old-fashioned, but is found in print only from the mid-19th century, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. “Unbeknown” is older, dating back to the 17th century, but it is less frequently used nowadays than “unbeknownst”, as this Google Books Ngram Viewer shows.
“Unknown” is a much older word, found in Old English, and can be used in more ways than “unbeknown” or “unbeknownst”. You come across phrases such as “unknown faces” and “the great unknown”, not “unbeknown faces” or “the great unbeknown”.