We have a national crisis with self-indulgent performances of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in the USA. Our national anthem is being mangled by bad taste and poor singers when presented at the beginning of public sporting events.

What used to be a revered practice with hats off and hands held over hearts has now become a gross performance opportunity for a sub-par singer to take our anthem and mangle the melody in order to “show off” just what a wide-range they do not have.

The problem none of these horrible performers realize is that they cannot sing in tune, they fumble out of key, and they are ruining a closely beloved song that should never really be sung live in public because it is too easy to ruin the song with an awful, cat-strangling, performance.

The effort should not be in the song attempt, but rather in the respect we provide the song by allowing it to be heard plainly and properly as intended.

The lobotomy-inducing melody runs in the “revised” national anthem begat their improper public birth in 1991 with Whitney Houston’s ear-banging, lip-synced, performance at the Super Bowl.  From that point on, everything was unfair game for anyone singing the song.  Rhythm didn’t matter.  Melody could be suggested and not made precise.  Applause substituted for Jingoism.

That Houston performance marked a sad day in the annals of American history.  You don’t add personality and flair to the singing of a nation’s anthem in any circumstance, or for any self-aggrandizing purpose, just to sell records after the fact.

I don’t think we should have live performers trying to sing the national anthem at sporting events.  Let’s just have a pre-recorded version that is respectful of the song and its original intention.  We can sing along, but the recording won’t have any indulgent runs or additional syncopations to give the sociopaths among us a modern curl.

There’s nothing wrong with honoring tradition respectfully and without false adornment.  We will be better served in the future by respecting our past — or by picking a whole new national anthem that is easier to sing without all the octave-inducing screeching that too often today tries to pass as a proper performance of a national intention.


  1. I am so with you on this one – we should be respectful and yes proud of our nation if there is occasion to be proud – as opposed to jingoistic. The number of times I have cringed at terrible renditions of God Save the Queen – that is the last thing we should do at our Nation Anthem.

    Am I wrong for thinking this is one of the best versions ever


    1. Well, when Jimi invented his version, it was as a protest against the war in Vietnam, and he certainly wanted to turn all of our national policies on their heads — and he was wildly successful in that historic, if anarchic, rendering of something that was just a little too precious at the time.

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