The National Anthem: Butchered
If you were watching the AFC Championship game on Sunday, you might have caught Steven Tyler’s rendition of the national anthem. At least, I think that was the national anthem he performed prior to the game, but nobody can really be sure. Tyler managed to scream out words to a tune that slightly resembled “The Star Spangled Banner”. It was atrocious, and it severely disappointed me.
The butchering of the national anthem has gone on for a while now. Steven Tyler was definitely not the first person to entirely disgrace it. Numerous celebrities have done their fair share of screwing up. Within the past year at the 2011 Super Bowl, Christina Aguilera forgot the words to the national anthem. Michael Bolton also forgot the words before a 2003 American League Championship game. While I am too young to truly remember the next two, I have seen them made a mockery of so many times that they are ingrained in my mind: Roseanne Barr not getting any notes right or Carl Lewis completely mutilating the anthem.
But it isn’t just all about celebrities. Other less well known people have messed up the national anthem while performing it as well. It’s just that the celebrities make more headlines when they make a mistake. However, I am not merely griping about mistakes. I can understand human error (to a degree). The thing that really upsets me is the fact that people try to take liberties with the anthem. They want to put their own personal spin on the anthem instead of leaving it how it was written.
Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics to the national anthem in the early 1800’s, and they were put to the melody of a tune written by John Stafford Smith. When the two were put together, the song was named “The Star Spangled Banner”. There is a reason this melody was chosen for Key’s lyrics. This is the national anthem we are talking about. This is the song that is supposed to represent the United States of America.
When people decide to alter the national anthem and take liberties with it, they are disgracing it. Their “enhancements” to it are the complete opposite. Their changes ruin the anthem. They aren’t making the changes to the anthem to make it sound better. They are making the changes for their own benefit and publicity. This is completely selfish on their part and should be forbidden.
Some states have even made laws that a fine is issued for messing up “The Star Spangled Banner”. I completely support this sort of legislation. I would support a national policy that dictates specific regulations as to how the national anthem should be sung. This anthem is something that should maybe only take around 90 seconds to be performed, but some people find it necessary to drag it out for much longer. They love to add in extra notes and put their own little musical touch on it. Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, has guidelines set for how the anthem will be performed at The Quicken Loans Arena. Why don’t more people adopt this sort of policy? Why don’t they screen the people and make them audition before performing it for a national audience? It is one thing for an artist to take liberties with their own music, but the national anthem is a classic that needs to remain unaltered.