An official YouTube video has emerged with the Queen of Pop singing her song "Like a Prayer" as she appeared at the Eurovision Song Contest finale on Saturday. The soundtrack in the clip, however, is audibly different.
Commentators were calling the performance "the end of Madonna's career," noting that each of the 41 contestants in the Eurovision Song Contest had sung better.
From the first notes, her voice was wobbly, and it only got worse. For much of the song, she sang off-pitch, as documented in the live stream of the Grand Final, uploaded by the Eurovision Song Contest and dated May 18. In the over four-hour video, the starting time of the Madonna sequence is 2:56:25.
But in a clip dated May 19 posted on the official Madonna Youtube account and on the star's verified Twitter account, which both have over 2 million subscribers, there are no obvious vocal problems. Although the sound is clearly from a live performance and not a studio recording, the delivery is on-pitch.
Outrage on social media erupted.
This Twitter user demonstrates the clear difference between both versions through his own edit:
Technical glitch, or worse?
Had it been a technical glitch, perhaps something wrong with the artist's in-ear mix? That seemed unlikely. With 41 participating countries and an estimated 200 million viewers, the Eurovision Song Contest is the world's biggest live music show, and meticulously rehearsed.
Although Madonna's sequence had not been included in the complete dress rehearsals and run-throughs of the finale, it can be assumed that the perfectionist had rehearsed the act with her sequence crew several times.
Nonetheless, the pitch problems were shocking. Madonna fans came to her defense:
The performance itself was not the only scandal of the evening. When two of the artist's backup dancers turned their backs, pinned to their jackets were an Israeli and a Palestinian flag in an apparent appeal for reconciliation.
On Sunday, Israel's culture minister Miri Regev called the statement "an error," while the Israeli broadcaster KAN and the Eurovision Song Contest, which declares itself a nonpolitical event, stated that the element had not been included in the rehearsals.
That provoked this spiteful response:
The shock, sadness and spite resulting from the vocal side of Madonna's Eurovision performance — and the aftermath — continue to grow. That reflects the high standards and perfect shows that audiences have come to expect from the now 60-year-old artist.
But if many might have been ready to excuse a one-off glitch, there could be only few who would sanction the apparent attempt to cover it up.