Sunday, February 6, 2011

In which I take the awkward position of defending Christina Aguilera for botching the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner

Did you hear that there was a "Super" Bowl today? It was played by the two top footballing teams, to decide the national championship. Also, there were some great commercials, I guess.

I am immune to its charms. I watched not one single minute of it. But I understand that something really amazing and painful happened at some point during the nine hours the event consumed on television.

Christina Aguilera flubbed a line in the National Anthem. You can watch it here, if it hasn't already been pulled from YouTube:

PopEater has the story.
Christina Aguilera, always a pro singing the national anthem, couldn't make it through the Star Spangled Banner before the kickoff of Super Bowl XLV. Aguliera, who has handled the task without issue before NBA games, botched the lyrics badly halfway through the song.

Instead of "'O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming" turned into "what so proudly we watched at the twilight's last [unintelligable lyric]."

Luckily, Aguilera had the quick, crowd-rousing "rocket's red glare" line to follow it up, which she nailed and got the packed Cowboys Stadium quickly on her side.

Still, our eyewitnesses in Dallas tell us that the crowd had some drastic reactions. "This was the biggest performance of her career and she blew it," a source with a VIP view tells me. "To mess up the lyrics was a disaster."
First of all, I do not like the Star Spangled Banner. I think it is a terrible song. I understand that it is "our" National Anthem, and saying you don't like your National Anthem is like saying you hate children, and your mother, and the mother of your children, and your own mother, and your own mother's children, but I genuinely hate that atonal, confusing aural irritant.

First of all, look at the lyrics:
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?
Let's forget for a moment that the song glorifies war. There's a strong case to be made that America is a country of never-ending war (war on drugs, war on poverty, war on terror, war on hunger, undeclared wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) and that our National Anthem should be a war rallying cry. I happen to disagree with that, but I'm in the minority.

What bothers me even more is the structure of the lyrics. It's a series of staccato questions running one right into another sort of like the way this sentence is going on, did you notice what I did? Did you like the way this paragraph is coming together did you expect this paragraph to be structured in quite this way and how do you feel about my argument so far?

Have you ever been around a small child, and you tell them to go to their room or something and they start crying, and asking you why they have to do it, and they forget to take a breath and they just keep asking you questions one right after another, basically the same question rephrased over and over again? That, to me, is what the Star Spangled Banner sounds like.

So, the structure of song is terrible, the lyrics are terrible, the music is terrible. By no discernible measure is the Star Spangled Banner a good song. Or even a mediocre one. It is a bad song. I do not like to hear it. The fact that this is the song that supposedly represents US, as a country, needles me.

Ms. Aguilera botched the lyrics of a bad song.

That said, she took the gig. As the PopEater article notes, she has performed the song before, at other sporting events. She should know the lyrics, and if she didn't want to sing them as written, she shouldn't have accepted the gig.

Anyway, maybe this is a good time to start a "national dialogue" on getting rid of the antiquated idea of singing that ridiculous song at the beginning of major sporting events. How about replacing it with another song, like "This Land is Your Land" (first three verses, anyway)? How about that "purple mountains majesty" song? How about Waylon Jennings's "America"? Or even that Lee Greenwood song?

Or, we could just always play Enrico Pallazzo's rendition, from "The Naked Gun":

Suck on that, Christina Aguilera.

Christina Augilera is so edgy, she botched the lyrics of the National Anthem, at the Super Bowl. Now, that is edgy.


Miss Malevolent said...

I disagree.

I like the song. It's not just a song about war, but about perseverance and spirit.

Sure it's a hard song with the register. And there is nowhere to hide when you mess up.

However, I think the reason she messed up is just like Patti LaBelle she loves to just go on those scaling runs to show how terrific her voice is.

She tried to jazz up that song and wound up losing her place which is why she repeated the lyric.

More to the point I HATE when folks do flourishes on that song. Because they make the song about themselves and their rendition versus singing with nationalistic pride.

It was the pride of Christina A that got in her way and made her forget the lyrics.

The gold standard for that song was Whitney Houston's version.

I was on youtube looking at comments about this controversy and I agree with a poster that said, "They should just play a CD of Whitney's version at all professional sporting events and leave it at that."

I agree...

Oh and yeah, that "note" at the end of the song Christina "sang"...yeah that was just yelling.

There is more to criticize about her rendition than just forgetting the words.

Ricky Sprague said...

I agree with you about the flourishes, trills, and yelling. Maybe it's just a symptom of our Post Modern culture that people have lost the ability to display genuine emotion, and they think that all that yelling they're doing conveys how MEANINGFUL the song is. Every other popular song involves that irritating tendency.

Christina Aguilera seems to have built a career on it.

A.Jaye said...

Anderson Silva shocked the world with a kung fu kick to retain the UFC middleweight championship on Saturday. On Sunday Chelsea FC lost a football/soccer match to Liverpool thereby guaranteeing Manchester United the premiership.

What's a sooperbowl? Is that like 10 pin bowling? Is the Star Spangled Banner Christina's next single? Isn't she the bird who sang 'drrtie'?