Skip to comments.The 10 Best & Worst [renditions of the U.S.] National Anthems Ever, From Roseanne To Whitney
Posted on 02/06/2011 3:20:02 AM PST by DemforBush
As we head into Super Bowl XLV, where Christina Aguilera is slated to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner," let's pause to remember some of the previous celebrities who've tested their lungs with the anthem...
(Excerpt) Read more at new.music.yahoo.com ...
I pretty much agree with most of the choices, except for #3 on the "good" list. As much as I love the work of the late, great Jimi Hendrix, his version of the national anthem makes my ears bleed.
Who’d they pick for today’s rendition of vocal gymnastics from a “minority” of the National Anthem?
There could never be another as great as Whitney Houston’s rendition.
The Cactus Cuties sing The National Anthem
I love Marvin Gaye’s unique rendition.
Eh! It was okay but I still prefer more traditional versions.
The Cactus Cuties are really good!!!
Here’s another version with great harmonies...
Nsync - National Anthem - Winter Olympics 2002
I wrote an opinion piece in place of my historical column in our race track program a few years ago. Here it is:
Id like to say a few words about that old song we hear before every race here at Orange County Fair Speedway, and before NASCAR races, and Nationwide (Busch ) races, and Superbowls, and World Series, etcetera, etcetera.
I have heard some of the best renditions of Our National Anthem and, sadly, some of the worst before all these sporting events. I turned off a Busch race a few years ago, and emailed NASCAR, telling them I would continue to engage in this practice until they employed singers of Our National Anthem who didnt treat this song as a LOUNGE ACT.
I must not have been alone. In recent years, singers of this song have treated it with a good deal more respect, and have sung it, for the most part, as it was written.
We have lost much of our American Culture to so-called Political Correctness. It would be a shame to lose our National Anthem to those singers who believe its all about them, and not about the song.
I believe some of these would be superstars who fold, spindle, mutilate and mangle our National Anthem have absolutely no idea how the song came to be. Well, lets go back in time... In 1991, acclaimed science fiction writer Issac Asimov wrote a tribute to this timeless song that is so hard to sing:
I have a weakness—I am crazy, absolutely nuts, about our national anthem.
The words are difficult and the tune is almost impossible, but frequently when I’m taking a shower I sing it with as much power and emotion as I can. It shakes me up every time.
I was once asked to speak at a luncheon. Taking my life in my hands, I announced I was going to sing our national anthem—all four stanzas.
This was greeted with loud groans. One man closed the door to the kitchen, where the noise of dishes and cutlery was loud and distracting. “Thanks, Herb,” I said.
“That’s all right,” he said. “It was at the request of the kitchen staff.”
I explained the background of the anthem and then sang all four stanzas.
Let me tell you, those people had never heard it before—or had never really listened. I got a standing ovation. But it was not me; it was the anthem.
More recently, while conducting a seminar, I told my students the story of the anthem and sang all four stanzas. Again there was a wild ovation and prolonged applause. And again, it was the anthem and not me.
So now let me tell you how it came to be written.
In 1812, the United States went to war with Great Britain, primarily over freedom of the seas. We were in the right. For two years, we held off the British, even though we were still a rather weak country. Great Britain was in a life and death struggle with Napoleon. In fact, just as the United States declared war, Napoleon marched off to invade Russia. If he won, as everyone expected, he would control Europe, and Great Britain would be isolated. It was no time for her to be involved in an American war.
At first, our seamen proved better than the British. After we won a battle on Lake Erie in 1813, the American commander, Oliver Hazard Perry, sent the message “We have met the enemy and they are ours.” However, the weight of the British navy beat down our ships eventually. New England, hard-hit by a tightening blockade, threatened secession.
Meanwhile, Napoleon was beaten in Russia and in 1814 was forced to abdicate. Great Britain now turned its attention to the United States, launching a three-pronged attack. The northern prong was to come down Lake Champlain toward New York and seize parts of New England. The southern prong was to go up the Mississippi, take New Orleans and paralyze the west. The central prong was to head for the Mid-Atlantic States and then attack Baltimore, the greatest port south of New York. If Baltimore was taken, the nation, which still hugged the Atlantic coast, could be split in two. The fate of the United States, then, rested to a large extent on the success or failure of the central prong.
The British reached the American coast, and on August 24, 1814, took Washington, D. C. Then they moved up the Chesapeake Bay toward Baltimore. On September 12, they arrived and found 1000 men in Fort McHenry, whose guns controlled the harbor. If the British wished to take Baltimore, they would have to take the fort.
On one of the British ships was an aged physician, William Beanes, who had been arrested in Maryland and brought along as a prisoner. Francis Scott Key, a lawyer and friend of the physician, had come to the ship to negotiate his release. The British captain was willing, but the two Americans would have to wait. It was now the night of September 13, and the bombardment of Fort McHenry was about to start.
As twilight deepened, Key and Beanes saw the American flag flying over Fort McHenry. Through the night, they heard bombs bursting and saw the red glare of rockets. They knew the fort was resisting and the American flag was still flying. But toward morning the bombardment ceased, and a dread silence fell. Either Fort McHenry had surrendered and the British flag flew above it, or the bombardment had failed and the American flag still flew.
As dawn began to brighten the eastern sky, Key and Beanes stared out at the fort, trying to see which flag flew over it. He and the physician must have asked each other over and over, “Can you see the flag?”
After it was all finished, Key wrote a four stanza poem telling the events of the night. Called “The Defence of Fort M’Henry,” it was published in newspapers and swept the nation. Someone noted that the words fit an old English tune called “To Anacreon in Heaven” —a difficult melody with an uncomfortably large vocal range. For obvious reasons, Key’s work became known as “The Star Spangled Banner,” and in 1931 Congress declared it the official anthem of the United States.
Now that you know the story, here are the words. Presumably, the old doctor is speaking. This is what he asks Key:
O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
“Ramparts,” in case you don’t know, are the protective walls or other elevations that surround a fort. The first stanza asks a question. The second gives an answer:
On the shore, dimly seen thro’ the mist of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep.
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream
‘Tis the star-spangled banner. Oh! long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
“The towering steep” is again, the ramparts. The bombardment has failed, and the British can do nothing more but sail away, their mission a failure.
In the third stanza, I feel Key allows himself to gloat over the American triumph. In the aftermath of the bombardment, Key probably was in no mood to act otherwise.
During World War II, when the British were our staunchest allies, this third stanza was not sung. However, I know it, so here it is:
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
The fourth stanza, a pious hope for the future, should be sung more slowly than the other three and with even deeper feeling.
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation,
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n - rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause is just,
And this be our motto—”In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I hope you will look at the national anthem with new eyes. Listen to it, the next time you have a chance, with new ears.
And don’t let them ever take it away.
—Isaac Asimov, March 1991
It is unlikely you will ever be asked to sing all four stanzas of The Star Spangled Banner. But, in case you are, cut this article out of the program, fold it up, and put it in your wallet. Hey, you never know.
But, to those who would sing this song before an audience (like at a dirt track race ), I have the following requests:
1. Its PER-ILL-OUS, not PER-OOO-LOUS.
2. Adding musical notes that are not part of the original score is annoying to this listener and, I suspect, many others.
3. Please keep in mind that the performance of The Star Spangled Banner is all about the song itself. It is NOT about the singer of the song. Im sorry, but if you want to showcase your voice, and add style to a song, pick a different song.
Thats all for this week. I promise to get back to the history of Orange County Fair Speedway next week. Until then, have a great week, and thanks for reading.
Whitney Houston? The cocaine-snorting, narcissistic wench cant help but to personalize her rendition. I go mute button if and when she tries it. I heard Gretchen Wilson do an AWESOME National Anthem, and Martina McBride was great, too.
But, the best rendition I have ever heard was George Bitzas singing with the Pride of the Southland Band - University of Tennessee. I looked, but cannot find anything on the internet. My bias is that the anthem should be sung by men - full voiced men.
Do you perhaps mean "would-be," with a hyphen? Both sentences (with and without the hyphen between "would" and "be") are grammatical, but have different meanings.
Nice opinion piece - but where does the essay-within-an-essay by Isaac Asimov actually end, and your opinion piece resume?
Asimov ends at this point:
Isaac Asimov, March 1991
I should have used some HTML, i.e., italics, bold, etc. Laziness; my bad.
And you’re right. Would-be would’ve been a better choice.
“Adding musical notes that are not part of the original score is annoying to this listener and, I suspect, many others.”
Yeah. It’s sad how she fell. But she grew up in an old fashioned gospel Church so I hope she’ll return to the Lord one day. I just loved her voice when it was at its best.
Martina McBride did a very good version a couple of weeks ago at the AFC Championship game, bundled up tight and singing it in the cold weather, she did a fabulous job.
It was all about the anthem, not about giving some twit a turn on stage.
That is exactly what I am talking about!
Hand the rockets red glare... is my indicator as to how poorly it is sung
It's a brief moment of humble gratitude and respect, not self aggrandizement and/or political protest. God blessed Americans, even the "ugly Americans" among us. May we be attempt to be worthy of such blessings. (Even if the Steelers win the SuperBowl)
The song doesn't have that big of range. The problem is that most songs start at about the middle of their range while the Star Spangled Banner starts a couple of notes from the bottom. If you start singing it in the middle of your vocal range you will not be able to hit the high notes unless you have a large range. Start at the bottom of your vocal range and the high notes are in reach for a good singer.
The best was Hendrix at Woodstock.
Here’s a very sweet one - acapella, respectful, sung the way it should be, by guys who can really sing!
I saw Charlie Daniels sing it a few years back. I think you would have enjoyed it. I know I did.
Kathie Lee Gifford. Before a Super Bowl or World Series game, I can’t remember.
Modern singers ruin the national anthem.
It should be sung true and non-warbelling, non-trilling
manor- they should forget trying to show off with their own style.
“The Cactus Cuties sing The National Anthem”
Superbowl is in Texas this year. They should be singing it. I like Christina’s version, but out of the top 10 (Plus Bonus) this still would rank top 3.
“The best was Hendrix at Woodstock.”
Yup. But I could do without the accompanying video.
“Last time I went to a San Francisco Giant game they sang this version”
I asked that my post be pulled. This thread is about something beautiful and patriotic. I was trying to be funny.
Although they probably sing it before SF council meetings, it has no place here. Please accept my apologies.
I love the Cactus Cuties.
Please tell me you’re kidding! (Soviet Natl. Anthem)
Love the Nsync rendition. The harmonics send chills down my back. Note Mitt Romney and Dick Cheney in the audience.
“Please tell me youre kidding! (Soviet Natl. Anthem)”
I asked that it be removed. Poor taste on my part.
Note to self: It is coffee first then post. Not other way around.
You got that right. I will remember that one forever. It was awesome.
She doesn’t sing—she screams.
Whitney’s version is the greatest vocal takew on the anthem...and I love Hendrix’s instumental version.
Don’t know who they were, but the trio who did the Anthem before the Atlanta-Packers game in the playoffs was almost better than Whitney. They were amazing.
Hey, It’s Enrico Pallazzo!
I remember Tom Sullivan’s moving performance before the 1976 Super Bowl. I was a kid then, and still remember how blown away I was.
I’m not sure who the performer was, but my favorite rendition was one of the ones that Ken Hamblin (The Black Avenger) used on his radio show. It’s the one where the singer started the song, and held her note at the end if the first line (Oh say can you seeeeeeeeee). I have no idea what happened to him or his show, but this version he used to open the show was simply amazing, and exactly the way I would sing it if the opportunity ever arised.
Never ever. Amen!
I think it was in 1992 before an Oakland A’s game the late Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir with Vince Welnick did a horrible job with it.
You know what I would like to see? The vocalist start the Anthem from the mic, but then have the crowd take over and sing the rest of it. Then we would get the Anthem sung the way it is supposed to be sung.
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