Last Year at the 2011 Superbowl, with millions of people watching, Christina Aguilera decided to add her rendition of The National Anthem to the archives of flubs by trying to make the song “her own” with a few change-ups and an entirely missed line. Her viewers and listeners were less-than-thrilled with the Grammy winner’s performance but her “people” blamed it on nerves. This is a woman who is used to performing at sold-out venues of thousands, so nerves is unlikely. Not being well-prepared and/or messing around with a perfectly good melody and not-quite landing the notes shows more at work here than “nerves.” Tons of internet polls said Aguilera’s botched anthem was an unforgivable mess.
More recently, rock singer Steven Tyler , frontman for Aerosmith, decided to take-on The National Anthem a few days ago at the Ravens-Patriots football game. He didn’t change many lyrics but somehow I don’t think America was quite ready for the “Screeching Star Spangled Banner.” You could hear the boos of the crowd over the screeching and he has received non-stop criticism since the event. But, I ask you? Why would they ask a rocker to sing the anthem anyway? It’s not exactly like the guy has a velvet voice to begin with.
There is of course, a long history of less-than-perfect National Anthem performances from American Idol winner Scott McCreery to Cyndi Lauper. But perhaps the worst of all anthem performances was back in 1990. Rosanne Barr (a comedian) who put on the worst non-funny performance by a non-singer and is oddly still alive to talk about it. It actually hurt her career because she was basically making fun of the National Anthem. She now lives on a farm in Hawaii, presumably far out of earshot of humans, thank God.
I can’t sing a note, but my hearing is so far, well within the average range. I might not understand the nuances of tone and range, but I do know the average American does not want singers altering the lyrics and melody of their National Anthem. They don’t want a “stylized” version of it, they don’t want a new beat and they generally like to have it sung with feeling and heart. Just like this version sung by a young high-schooler from a Chicago suburb, who is not a professional singer–but undoubtably will be, because she gets it. This is how the National Anthem should be sung: