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Five Mind-Blowing Renditions Of The Star-Spangled Banner

A flubbed line and a couple of “pitchy” moments have reignited the traditionalist vs. popular debate over this English drinking song turned national anthem.

national anthem 2

Photo: Bristol Motor Speedway

Performances of the national anthem are what we love to hate.

Christina Aquileira’s version of the “Star-Spangled Banner” during the opening of Super Bowl XLV is the hot topic around the new water cooler (aka Facebook) today. A flubbed line and a couple of “pitchy” moments have reignited the traditionalist vs. popular debate over this English drinking song turned national anthem.

Here are five more versions that got their arrangers into hot water.

Cease And Desist Mr. Stravinsky

Igor Stravinsky’s new harmonization of the tune in January 1944 put him in direct violation of a Massachusetts law—or at least the interpretation of that law—which outlawed tampering with national property. The Boston P.D. took Igor’s score away and issued him a warning that included a possible fine of $100 for a repeat offense, and all over a major seventh chord.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxBVLceBT6Q

So Gallantly Shredding

Jimi Hendrix’s version from the 1969 Woodstock Festival has become a defining moment of the sixties. His electric guitar odyssey, which lasted nearly four minutes, incorporated sonic effects like rockets glaring and the sound of “bombs bursting in air,” melding the angst of the Vietnam War with a questioning patriotism.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIzjYNPOhwM

This Version Has Been Barr-ed

Not so glamorous, and with far less forethought, was Roseanne Barr’s extremely controversial “singing” of the “Star-Spangled Banner” at a San Diego Padres game in 1990. Barr said that she couldn’t hear herself and began singing as loudly as she could. The raunchy comedian-turned-TV-star’s brand of humor didn’t translate to the baseball diamond and the performance put an end to her musical career.

I Brought The Cliff Notes

Pop vocalist Michael Bolton seemed like a logical choice for a patriotic opening to game four of the American League Championship back in 2003. Bolton’s star had been waning for a while, but his talents had never really been questioned. Throughout his performance it became increasingly obvious that the former lion-haired singer had lost his way. The breaking point came around 48 seconds into the anthem when Bolton paused and not-so-smoothly looked at what appeared to a cheat sheet in his hand.

You Can’t Run Away From A Performance Like That

It may seem odd, but Olympic hero Carl Lewis was invited to open an NBA game in 1993 with a performance of the Star-Spangled Banner. It became apparent that the novelty of the moment wasn’t going to end with the invitation. Lewis himself even apologized during the song and fans at the game were all too eager to give their opinions as well.

David Wood

Originally from Leavenworth, Kansas, David Wood moved to Bloomington in 2005. He received his Bachelor of Music from Kansas State University, and his Master of Music from the University of North Texas. He studied ensemble direction at the Jacobs School of Music's Early Music Institute and joined WFIU in 2006 as an announcer. In 2008 he became WFIU's Music Director and also served as Art Bureau Chief from 2008-2013. David’s interests include Irish music and language (particularly traditional singing), music and religion, running, the outdoors, and, of course, classical music!

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