The National Anthem.

So Christina Aguilera sang the National Anthem for the Superbowl this year. You may have heard that she messed up the words. She did.

I’m offended by her performance.

I believe that if you are fortunate enough to have the honor of singing the National Anthem live before an audience, the first thing you need to remember is that this is not your moment. This moment belongs to the country that all Americans love and you have a duty to lead a tribute to that which we hold dear.

The melody should not be screwed with. The word ‘brave’ does not have a dozen syllables with a wild assortment of notes. One of the most dignified performances I have ever encountered was done by the Dixie Chicks, where they performed the song in three part harmony. The tempo was normal and the blending of their voices was awe inspiring. They lent their voice as the song held it’s own.

The National Anthem is not a ballad. It is derived from a relatively lively old English drinking song, if memory serves it has something to do with “Anacron” or “Ananacron”. It’s not a slow number. Don’t make it something it isn’t.

Quite frankly, every American should know the words to the National Anthem, just as we know the Pledge of Allegiance or the way Christians know the Lord’s Prayer*. It should be a given that you know the words. Michael Bolton shouldn’t need a crib sheet and Christina Aguilera shouldn’t do an abridged version.

Don’t hassle me about whether I can do better. I don’t know if it can be compared but I have sung the National Anthem at two hockey games; my performance at one of the games was punctuated by fireworks being blasted over my head in the indoor arena as I sang the last note. I didn’t make the song my own, I used my talent to pay tribute to my country.

I was offended by Christina saying “thank you” at the end of her performance. Not because she was terrible, but because the performance shouldn’t have been about her, it was about the United States.

For the love of all that is decent, please stop destroying the National Anthem with your own interpretations. Lead the crowd in a song that everyone can participate in. *That’s* why you’ve been chosen to sing at the event.

Be proud, be humble and show some love for your country.

* I admit that I still have to sing the Lord’s Prayer in my head when it’s time to sing it.

Update 07 Feb 11 08:13: Reading through comments on various sites, I see that others share my opinions. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older or if I just have specific expectations of paying tribute through the National Anthem, but others share my feelings. Here are two comments from The Washington Post editorial section:

Note to Roger Goodell (and his colleagues):

The National Anthem is NOT as damned lounge act in a third rate Vegas hotel.

Next Super Bowl (or World Series, or Final Four, or whetever,) get a band from any of the service academies, play the song with dignity, and listen to it being sung by 100,000 people…who know the damned words!

If you don’t know what a rampart is, go back to the 4th grade.

Sid Prejean
LtCol, USAF, Retired

Posted by: sidprejean | February 6, 2011 10:29 PM | Report abuse

I dislike every rendition of the national anthem by singers focused on their own performance rather than respect for the nation, it’s people, and the anthem. There are many groups, military, collegiate, etc. Who will sing the anthem properly. We do not need to listen to mediocre singers, changing the rythmn or the melody (often because they are unable to reach the high notes or keep time), trying to be “cute.” I am offended by self-serving butchering of the anthem. Can we please stop choosing “pop” performers who can’t sing.

Posted by: Eagle-Ed | February 6, 2011 10:33 PM | Report abuse