The nation's ears were bleeding today after Howard Stern aired an alleged soundboard recording of Beyoncé shrieking her way through "If I Were A Boy" from a November 2008 Today show concert. The recording spread like wildfire, with many quick to accuse both Beyoncé and Sasha Fierce of being awful live singers who hide behind pre-recorded tracks. However, as B's father and manager Matthew Knowles argued and TMZ confirmed, the tape was significantly doctored to make Beyoncé sound like a banshee.
According to Us Weekly, Matthew Knowles was the first to shoot down the authenticity of the recording, saying in a statement that the tape seemed "obviously altered." "At 12 years into her career, the last thing someone should be questioning is her vocal ability. That would be like questioning if Kobe Bryant could shoot a jump shot," Knowles said. Beyoncé was asked about the tape during a press junket for her upcoming film Obsessed, and while she hadn't heard the supposed recording, the story behind it "sounds completely ridiculous," she said. Conveniently, Beyoncé will be on tomorrow's Today to perform "Halo." "It's perfect promotion, whoever came up with that idea," Mrs. Jay-Z said.
TMZ became Beyoncé's hero today, reporting that they'd actually spoken to the person who altered the soundboard tapes, with the alleged culprit telling them, "It's a little bit crazy. No one in their right mind would sound like that, and no one would cheer for someone singing like that." Despite the denials — and even as the original Today broadcast below shows — every time Beyoncé hits the high notes the camera jumps to a far away wide shot spotlighting the audience. So that's kind of suspicious. But it also seems evident that the fake recording simply pitch-shifts at random — not even American Idol's worst rejects sound that awful. So we're not going to throw B into a club that features Britney Spears, Enrique Iglesias and Ashlee Simpson as blatant abusers of prerecorded material just yet, but we will watch tomorrow's Today extra closely. And Beyoncé, if you'd like to come sing at our offices to clear this matter up, we're ready for you.
Update: Watch Beyoncé put the rumors to rest by singing a fierce "Halo" on Wednesday night's Late Show With David Letterman (and watch Dave call the album "I Am ... Sara Fierce").