Inauguration performers announced, receive mixed reaction


This story ran in USA TODAY College on January 11, 2013.

This story ran in USA TODAY College on January 11, 2013.

Beyoncé, Kelly Clarkson and James Taylor will be headlining a performance Jan. 21 in Washington, D.C., at President Obama’s inauguration ceremony, which some say is overshadowed by celebrity appearances.

College students are expected to be excited by popular artists, but some find the guests off-putting.

“It makes no difference to me who’s performing at the inauguration,” said Nikki Wertheim, a recent graduate of Stony Brook University. “That makes it sound ridiculous — performing at the inauguration, like it’s the VMAs.”

This is nothing new. Obama’s 2009 inauguration lineup included an HBO special boasting nearly 20 celebrities.

Wertheim argued that constantly putting Obama in the company of celebrities has changed the way the public sees him, especially young people.

“It bothers me that Obama has achieved this sort of trendy celebrity status, because I feel like it cheapens him and what he’s doing, whether it’s good or bad,” she said.

But while some said the celebrity appearances will make the ceremony seem too stylized, others welcome the opportunity to see a different side of both politics and entertainment.

“I think the entertainers add a sort of flair to it that you don’t typically see in the political world,” said Sara Roncero-Menendez, a senior at New York University. “It also shows that people in the entertainment industry also have political leanings, actually want to take part and have an interest in politics.”

Being able to listen to politically active musicians is a bonus for students already interested in celebrating Obama’s re-election.

Elon University sophomore Brandon Joyner said he is excited to see Beyoncé sing the national anthem, especially following her performance of At Last at the Inaugural Ball in 2009.

But Joyner said he believes not everyone shares his enthusiasm. As a D.C. native, he is interested in politics and acknowledges most of his peers won’t tune into the ceremony either way.

“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal this time with students,” he said. “They’re not too concerned and I don’t think they’re that interested in seeing it.”

Mixed feelings regarding the hype about Beyoncé and other guests mirror enthusiasm about Obama’s return.

Four years ago, 1.8 million Americans attended the president’s inauguration ceremony, shattering previous records. Excitement was rampant, especially on college campuses.

“Obama felt like something different,” Wertheim said. “I was really proud and excited to have been able to witness it. These days, not so much.”

Despite some reservations, the ceremony is expected to draw a large crowd to the capitol city. The swearing-in, parade and balls will be held Jan. 21, followed by a prayer service at 10:30 a.m. the following day.

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