Who watched the inauguration a few days ago? That shit was pretty awesome. (We especially liked the part where Obama casually dropped a Stonewall reference into his speech, like he wasn't doing something of enormous significance. Nice one, dude). Of course, most of the post-inauguration blog chatter has focused on the fact that Beyonce did not sing the National Anthem live. I mean, seriously, people -- who fucking cares? This ain't like an Ashley-Simpson-SNL moment where we're left wondering if she did it because she actually can't sing well.
Beyonce has proven herself, and the strength of her vocals, like, a billion times already. If she wanted
the National Anthem to be flawless at the first black President's
second inauguration, in front of the entire goddamn world, then we can't blame
her for pre-recording it. Especially in those freezing, teeth-chatter-inducing, East-Coast-January temperatures. Put yourself in her shoes. We'd probably have erred on the side of caution, too.
There was, however, a real inauguration musical tragedy this year, and it seems to have been roundly ignored by everybody in favor of this Bey-nonsense. Did the world just happen to miss Alicia Keys at the inaugural ball, reconfiguring her "Girl On Fire" single to be about Barack Obama? Because that -- great (live) vocals aside -- truly was shitting awful. Let's put on our cringing pants, take a look at this thing, then have a think about how incredibly inappropriate it is:
Taking a you-go-girl song and then trying to make it fit around the leader of the free world was probably never going to work. Ever. The thing that makes this particular song so insanely inappropriate is that, in this context, it just makes Obama sound like a war-hungry psychopath. Allow us a moment to explain.
The "hotter than a fantasy" line gets things off to an uncomfortable start (for entirely overly familiar, sexual reasons), but the alarm bells don't truly start ringing 'til Alicia gets to the "He's living in a world and it's on fire" part, thereby immediately reminding us how many wars we're still involved in.
Then it gets worse: "He's got both feet on the ground and he's burning it down." Oh good. Now, it sounds like we're placing all of the blame for all those wars squarely on Obama's shoulders. Look, lady, if anyone burned anything down, it was George W. Bush that started it, okay?
So shit can't get worse right? Oh, no, wait -- here it comes: "He's got his head in the clouds and he's not backing down." Are we seriously the only people who immediately started thinking about the CIA's unmanned drones in Pakistan that just randomly blow innocent civilians up sometimes? We know we're not supposed to be interpreting Keys' lyrics literally here, but the burning-shit-down-while-in-the-clouds imagery is so incredibly potent under the circumstances that our brains can't not meander in a scary drone direction. "He's lighting up the night," Alicia? Really?
Even though Obama is making a concerted effort to get us out of the wars that the Bush administration started, it just isn't a good idea to use this kind of language about the President while we're still involved in so many violent conflicts. Whoever approved "Obama's On Fire" was as short-sighted and stupid as the guy on Reagan's team who thought that "Born In The U.S.A" would be an appropriate campaign anthem for super-Republican Ronnie.
The only part of Keys' performance that didn't make us want to hide under the nearest table was the cute, wedding-party-esque: "Everybody knows that Michelle is his girl/ Together they run the world" part. But Jesus Christ. Almost every single word of this thing was like another word association bomb going off in our heads. Way more screwed up than anything Beyonce was responsible for, we reckon.