Monday, February 7, 2011

Crowdsource the anthem!

So, I didn't watch the Super Bowl last night because I am a Bad American, but I did at least get to hear Christina Aguilera's version of The Star-Spangled Banner on Hot 93.7* this morning. And you know what? I think on the whole, we are better off just singing our national anthem our own damn selves. It is time for all patriotic Americans to reclaim control of our national anthem from the "singers" who, let's face it, haven't exactly been doing a bang-up job with it.

Exhibit 1!

The crowd at Fenway Park picks up the tune when a disabled man dissolves into nervous giggles (also, note that this man gets further into the song without making mistakes than Xtina does!). Everyone sounds great.

Exhibit 2!

The crowd at a minor league hockey game in Virginia finishes the anthem when a little girl's mic cuts out. They sound even better than the Fenway crowd!

What I'm saying is, yes, The Star-Spangled Banner is kind of a difficult song for any one person to sing, but it actually sounds good when sung by a crowd. Which makes sense, given that the tune comes from a drinking song. Who sings drinking songs as dramatic solos?** And even if people mess up the words, there are enough other people singing to cover for it.

I'm not saying a solo version of The Star-Spangled Banner can't succeed - I've got a soft spot and a half for Rene Rancourt***, for example:

To me, the most successful performances of The Star-Spangled Banner are the ones that let the crowd sing along! But no, no one just sings the damn song straight, everyone wants to show off! I wish we could have the singer(s) get the song started and then let the crowd take over. I think the main barrier is not the difficulty, but just that it's a long song - I don't know if everyone would stay in for the whole thing (without an adorable child or intellectually-challenged person to support).

And it's not going to happen, because people want their chances to show off, and even with eleventy-million professional, semi-pro, college, high school, and peewee sports games being played in the US every year, there eleventy-one million stars, starlets, kids, acapella groups, military bands, and state troopers itching to perform their souped-up versions of the national anthem. And maybe because we've all been taught that The Star-Spangled Banner is too difficult for ordinary people to sing.

But it's not! Really! Together we can perform this song! Let's do it! We'll sound great!

*Connecticut's #1 for Hip-Hop and R&B - I'm mostly an NPR girl, but I can't stand Cokie Roberts' "analysis", so every Monday morning when she comes on, it's Hot 93.7 all the way.

**Ooh, now I'm tempted to record an extended, melisma-filled version of, I don't know, "The Irish Rover" or something.

***Although really I think I like Rene Rancourt's O Canada even better than his Star-Spangled Banner. Observe this fabulous example of classy passive-aggressiveness exhibited by Rancourt and a Garden full of Bruins fans after Canadiens fans booed the Star-Spangled Banner in Montreal:

No comments: