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Mike Redmond Column

Please refer to the Mike Redmond Column main page for columns published in other issues.
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 National Anthem Takes a Reaming

Another Super Duper Bowl (number XLV, pronounced XLV) is done, and as luck would have it, my team, the Green Bay Pachyderms, walked off the field clutching the hard-won spoils of victory, or whatever overblown expression the TV sports buffoons are using these days to say “won.”

However, I think my favorite part of the game was Christina Aguilera’s spectacularly awful rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Lots of folks, it would seem, were plenty upset that Miss Christina apparently forgot the words to the song. In case you were ignoring it (and wisely so) here’s the instant replay: In the second verse, where she was supposed to sing “O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming” she sang “what so proudly we watched at the twilight’s last reaming,” which you may recognize as a version (the proper words are “hailed,” not “watched” and “gleaming,” not “reaming”) of the last line of the first verse.

Twilight’s last reaming? I have no idea what that is supposed to be, and I don’t want one, either.

Anyway, I watched the disaster with unparalleled delight. For years I have complained about ridiculous renditions of the National Anthem and here was a doozy. Not only was it an over-the-top vocal rendition, full of dips and swoops and loop-the-loops, but with mangled lyrics to boot. You have to go back to 2001 – the year of Steven Tyler at the Indianapolis 500 and Macy Gray at the Pro Football Hall of Fame -- to find one this bad.

The Star Spangled Banner is not a Top 40 hit and should not be treated like one. That kind of singing, full of embellishment and flourish from the Patti LaBelle School of Vocal Aerobatics, has become the norm for pop singers today. I call it the American Idol-ization of popular music.

For pop music, I guess that’s fine. After all, I don’t have to listen to it. And I exercise that option pretty much all the time.

But this is the National Anthem. It deserves a proper, respectful performance which means, simply, that it should be sung as written. No improvisation. No showing off. No interjection of your personal “style.” Save those for the hits, and the listeners who think that the further you get from the melody, the more talented you must be.

Here’s the funny part, for me anyway: I get all riled up about it, but I don’t particularly like the Star Spangled Banner. I have always thought “America The Beautiful” would make a far better National Anthem, although people have abundantly demonstrated they can screw that one up, too. Actually, if you really want to talk National Anthems, I think Canada’s is clearly the best in our part of the world. Not only is it a great song, but every time you hear it you know there’s a hockey game coming up.

Oh well. What’s done is done. Christina apologized for her flubariffic performance and issued a statement saying she hoped we all could feel her love for the country and the spirit of the anthem. Sure, kid. Whatever you say. You’re forgiven. What’s more, I’ll even give you courage points for singing it live instead of lip-synching to a tape.

But if you really want to show how much you love it, sing it right. Twilight’s last reaming? Good grief.




© 2011 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.