Though many will say that the Star Spangled Banner is a difficult song to sing on a vocal level because of its wide range, an octave and a half, of notes, that certainly doesn't make any excuse for forgetting the words. Taken from the 1814 poem titled "Defence of Fort McHenry" by Francis Scott Key, the words to the American anthem have always been the same, except when they're mangled by a performer.
We all remember in 1990 when sitcom star Roseanne Barr made a joke of the Star Spangled Banner prior to a baseball game but that disastrous performance was certainly not the worst of the worst. Take for instance one Hamilton County Deputy Sheriff in Tennessee who made a somber memorial service for fallen law enforcement officers overly awkward after completely butchering the lyrics.
Many have been criticized for small errors during performances such as when the likes of Christina Aguilera and Keri Hilson missed a few words, only to recover and end the song well. Others have attempted to add their own style to the iconic song but with horrible results.
Take Steven Tyler for example. He tried to get the crowd at the 2001 Indianapolis 500 involved by adding the name of the event, plus an awkward harmonica solo, to the song. Veterans groups were far from amused and the Aerosmith crooner apologized. Same thing happened with R&B singer R. Kelly as he opened the Bernard Hopkins vs. Jermain Taylor boxing match in 2005. The crowd at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas as well as the one at home was not into it, especially the part where he urged watchers to clap and dance, leading to a complete failure.
As these horrible, awful national anthem performances prove, it's better to perform the Star Spangled Banner well and not be noticed than to murder the song in front of thousands, if not millions of people. Consider yourself warned anthem singers.
Tyler just doesn't learn lessons it seems. On January 22nd 2012 he came out and opened the 2012 AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens with a particularly shrill version of the national anthem. In the words of his fellow "American Idol" judge, Randy Jackson, It's a little pitchy dawg.
Adding his signature harmonica to his act definitely didn't go over well for Aerosmith frontman and "American Idol" judge Steven Tyler as he struggled through the national anthem prior to the Indianapolis 500 on May 27, 2001. But wait, it gets worse. Tyler decided to change the words at the end. He apologized the next day.
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Singing the iconic song prior to the pay-per-view boxing match between Bernard Hopkins and Jermain Taylor on July 16, 2005, R&B singer R. Kelly put a whole bunch of soul into his national anthem performance. Kelly attempted to model his version like that of the Marvin Gaye's epic 1983 NBA All-Star Game rendition, but the crowd was not having it. Yep, those are boos you're hearing at the end, and for good reason.
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Pro tip: If you're going to mess up singing the national anthem, do not do it on the most-watched television program of the entire year, the Super Bowl. That's exactly what pop singer Christina Aguilera did at Super Bowl XLV on February 6, 2011, at Cowboys Stadium in Texas. Just before the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers played for the National Football League championship, Aguilera flubbed the lines during the Star Spangled Banner. Yes, the millions watching around the world did notice.
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This horrible national anthem performance may be the most confusing of them all. Michael Bolton, along with his perplexed facial expressions, appears at the 2003 American League Championship Series MLB game at Fenway Park to sing the Star Spangled Banner. If you listen closely however you can hear someone else singing with him, about one note early. Was that someone else? Was it a backing track so he wouldn't flub the words? We may never know the answers to these questions but we surely know that whatever the case, this was awful.
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Having a lovely singing voice is far from a requirement for those seeking the Democratic nomination for president but for Hillary Clinton in 2008, having a lackluster voice certainly didn't help. Mrs. Clinton wasn't even performing when a stray live microphone picked up her voice singing along to the anthem at an Iowa campaign stop in 2008. Poor Hillary.
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I think we can all agree that pop musician Kat DeLuna can sing, but as she shows in this horrible anthem rendition during a 2008 Dallas Cowboys NFL game, sometimes taking things too far can lead to disastrous results. Miss DeLuna starts out well, but soon adds too much soul and sexy to the performance in both her singing and dancing, if you want to call it that. Whatever it was, it was too much.
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Though many will argue that actress and singer Zooey Deschanel was uninspired and monotone when singing the Star Spangled Banner at game four of the 2011 MLB World Series in October 2011, really, this is one of the best worst national anthem renditions of all time. Deschanel, who also sings in a band, She & Him, didn't mess up the worlds, nor did she curse, grab herself or do anything else outrageous but still she received a considerable amount of backlash for her performance.
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As she proved when attempting to sing the national anthem before a March 31, 2010, NBA game between the Atlanta Hawks and the Los Angeles Lakers, Keri Hilson should perhaps stick to R&B. The singer-songwriter gave it her best when singing the Star Spangled Banner at the basketball game but just a few lines in became confused and flubbed the words. On the bright side, she noticed the mistake, recovered and finished the song with pride.
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