So yesterday was the big Super Bowl and Earl and I had a little celebration here at The Manor. Surprisingly, we both survived the Super Bowl food just fine because *I* was the one that did the cooking and such for our little party. Normally Earl does the cooking, but I’ve been feeling fantastic lately and I was in the mood to do something of this nature, so I did it. We both enjoyed the tasty treats.
Earl and I were very moved when the Sandy Hook School Chorus started singing “America, The Beautiful.” Jennifer Hudson came out halfway through the song and added her personal touches to the arrangement and it seemed to blend well. We were moved to tears.
After a few commercials it was time for Alicia Keys to sing the Star-Spangled Banner. Sigh. Now I have complained about celebrity performances of our National Anthem before and I guess I’m going to do it again. I have already mentioned this on my Facebook and Twitter feeds, but I was really disappointed in Alicia’s performance. I don’t know a lot about her except that she’s won plenty of Grammy awards. I don’t seek her music out and I can’t say that anyone of her work is in my large library of music. That all being said, I vaguely knew that she tended to go breathy and jazzy with her music and that’s what she opted to do with the National Anthem.
She also decided to make it really long.
And change the tempo.
And change the phrasing.
And change the chord structure.
Here’s the thing. When singing the National Anthem at an event, I believe that it is the performer’s responsibility to bring pride to our country through the performance of our anthem by engaging the crowd and bringing the citizens to their feet, with their hats off, their hands over their heart and the opportunity for the person to sing along if they so desire. When you change the song to “make it your own”, Mr. and Mrs. Jones have no idea what to do to engage in their own patriotism so they just stand there feeling like idiots. On the bright side, Alicia made the song so long and so slow, there’s a really good chance that Mr. and Mrs. Jones might have fit in a nap to pass the time when they couldn’t sing.
To sing the National Anthem is a great honor. It is your chance to shine while you bring your fellow neighbors together in a beautiful act of patriotism. To change the song up to show what you can really do as an artist is self-indulgent and quite frankly, contrary to the purpose of singing the song in the first place. I am grateful that Alicia didn’t engage in the ridiculous yodeling sounds that others have done in the past, but as I sat there I couldn’t believe that I was losing interest in a song that usually moves me to tears. It felt awkward.
And one more little rant, in all of her demonstrations of having a good grasp of Music Theory 101, why did Ms. Keys opt to change the chord structure of “o’er the land of the free…”, to a darker, minor chord? That’s what this country is all about! Why would you change the chord to illustrate a dark, somber tone?
Perform the song the way it was meant to be performed: lively, full of life and full of heart. I really wish the NFL would enlist the vocal abilities of a talented service member who knows what it is like to be defending this country.
That would be another beautiful act of patriotism.