I’ll admit now that I didn’t watch much of Super Bowl XLV last night, and completely missed the opening theatrics and ceremony. I’ve read some of the critique about Christina Aguilera’s rendition of the National Anthem though, and so searched it out to see what the fuss was about.
This is a one-take event, singers. You don’t get a second chance to fix warbles or phlegmy throat or anything like that. You don’t get to lay down extra tracks after you sing. You need to nail it the first time. Yes, the song has a broad vocal range. But someone of Aguilera’s talent and vocal range should normally be able to cover the range flawlessly. But I think there’s little excuse for botching the lyrics to this song.
There are plenty of sources for the lyrics if you aren’t sure you’ll remember them. You should have plenty of opportunity to memorize them. You should be completely focused on the single song you’re singing. It’s not like you’re singing a 12- or 15-song set. It’s one song. 80 words in the first verse.
This is our National Anthem. It’s not a cover of a Beatles’ tune. Don’t try to “make it your own,” just sing the song. It’s the “star quality ego” coming through when people try to add their personal “trademark” or “signature sound.” The National Anthem is not a time to show your “star power,” but rather a time to humble yourself in memory of all those people who in some way helped create a free country where you can get paid to pretend.
Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?