No, Fergie’s Star-Spangled Banner Wasn’t The Worst Rendition Ever….[ UPDATED ]

Not even close.

This was…

The ethical problem in both cases is the same, however. The National Anthem is not, or should not be, an excuse for a performer to grandstand or make headlines by controversial renditions. The National Anthem is not about the singer. It is a musical declaration that the nation is strong and thriving, and that it is equal to whatever challenges it encounters. Performed respectfully and with skill and forethought, The Star-Spangled Banner can communicate this, and be stirring to all Americans irrespective of musical preferences and tastes.

Here is what a great rendition sounds like, just so you can get Rosanne and Fergie out of your brains…

[Be patient, however: the NFL won’t let any site play this but YouTube, so you have to click on the link, then listen to a gratuitous intro, then finally you get Whitney. Please come back afterwards: we’re not finished!]

 

That’s my favorite, but I have to say, Lady Gaga did great job in 2016. Here she is–same process as with the previous video. Sorry. You know…the NFL:

Just so you don’t think only female singers can knock the song out of the park, here is Chicago’s Jim Cornelison, a powerful tenor, whose rendition is fast, no-nonsense, and if this doesn’t get your blood pumping, nothing will.

UPDATE: All right, I’m going to have to post this, in my opinion the greatest rendition of the most dramatic and musically stirring of all national anthems, though it isn’t ours. The version in “Casablanca” is terrific, but this legendary performance is better:

58 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Citizenship, Etiquette and manners

58 responses to “No, Fergie’s Star-Spangled Banner Wasn’t The Worst Rendition Ever….[ UPDATED ]

  1. Fred Davison

    Felt like I should be sipping a whiskey and smoking a cigarette while listening to Fergie.

    Jack Black played it straighter than I would have expected:

  2. Fergie did a terrible job but it seems the stage for reinventing the Star Spangled Banner started a long time ago. Hendrix did it Woodstock, right before he decided to burn his Strat (why, I will never know). So, I wonder: How many other nations have their national anthems “interpreted”? I have watched Canadians do a nice job with their anthem, which is not necessarily easy on the vocal chords. Mexico does get its anthem reinterpreted with pop star caterwauling (caterwailing?). France? India? Brazil? How about England?

    jvb

  3. ”No, Fergie’s Star-Spangled Banner Wasn’t The Worst Rendition Ever….”

    Oddly enough, Barr sees things differently.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/music/roseanne-barr-calls-anthem-performance-better-fergie-article-1.3829618

    Speaking of Y-Chromosomal Units belting it out, I would have LUVED to have seen/heard Johnny Hartman give it a go.

    I no longer smoke or drink whiskey (did more than my share at an earlier stage of development), if there’s any crooner that would inspire me to, it’d be Hartman.

    Fred, is this the kind of music to which you refer?

  4. JutGory

    Any commentary on this issue that does not acknowledge that these wretched performances begin to make the performance by Bleeding Gums Murphy look serious is practically worthless. The Simpsons beat Fergie to the punch by 25 years.
    -Jut

    • Chris Marschner

      My favorite anthem rendition was the French National anthem in Casablanca when Rick allowed the group to send a message to the Germans. I feel compelled to stand everytime I hear it.

    • I considered bringing The Simpsons into it, including Jessica Simpson’s rendition, which is arguably worse that Fergie’s.

  5. Glenn Logan

    Speaking of great SSB’s, how did Josh Groban get omitted?

    Link in case the embed doesn’t show.

  6. Other Bill

    Pretty appropriate, isn’t it? The NBA is all about “stylin’,” right?

  7. Here is the new version, coming to you very very soon:

    • Chris Marschner

      I respectfully decline to listen to whatever bastardization of our anthem you wish to distribute.

      • A couple of things: First, it was simply a joke, not an attempt to intentionally disrespect the Anthem. Lately there is a great deal of hysteria about ‘Russia hacking our democracy’ and I thought it was funny. Nothing more.

        But I suspect that you might have certain doubts about my own patriotism (as a nationalized foreigner to the US) based on the radical and vanguard ideas I often write about (which turn against the current in many senses). I wouldn’t hold your prejudice against you nor that of anyone. I would suggest though that you keep your prejudice in abeyance, if possible.

        One of the purposes of a blog like this, situated in high ideals and the valuation of free speech and open communication, is to be exposed to and to learn about the ideas and opinions of those who see things different.

        And everyone that writes here does so to put their ideas out, to communicate them, to have them be responded to pro and con.

        I do have to say —- I am in fact ethically forced to say and by doing so take the higher ethical ground —- that I am critical of emotionalized patriotism and feel strongly that it must always be corrected, if you will, by intellectual understanding.

        For example and on a more recent page of this blog an ethics commentator at the NYTs wrote:

        “Because many people in your generation don’t take cheating very seriously, your friends would most likely have ended up focusing on the unfairness of being singled out, not on their wrongdoing.”

        Jack commented: “That’s their problem. The attitude the Ethicist identifies is 39. The Pioneer’s Lament, or “Why should I be the first?” He’s correct that this will be the likely attitude of the busted cheaters, but since when did how wrongdoers rationalize their wrongdoing become mitigation?”

        I reject blind, emoted patriotism if it is not also connected with a true intellectual rigor and a will to discover and explain the truth. I am also critical of ‘postmodern patriotism’ and a patriotism disconnected from the reality of events, and by this I mean political machinations. It is true that the purpose of an anthem is to engender unity. But this can become coercive if and when substantial divisions have arisen and the antham’s emotionalism is brought out to suppress the fact of disunity.

        I write a good deal about the present situation of the US as being on the verge of ‘unravelling’ and this happens because people had been united under a false, emoted patriotism. That patriotism (I suggest through my need and desire to hold to strong intellectual perception and to avoid falling into coerced emotionalism) is now in question, if only because people do not really undersdtand what precisely they are to be patriotic toward.

        I can believe in and I want to believe in a Constitutional patriotism. It is through and only through that that I can make my way to ‘patriotism’ and to feel emotions toward it. But I say that that ‘constitutional republicanism’ has been severely assaulted almost to the point that it is unrecognizable. That corresponds to the ‘cheating’ that was commented on above. And if I am to take my patriotism seriously, and if I am to have it and believe in it, I would be duty obligated to take a stand for what I believe in.

        As the glue that held the US together comes more undone in the next 5-10-20 years —- and my assertion is that this is happening and will continue to happen —- it will throw people back on themselves and into themselves and they will have to ask a great many very important questions about ‘allegience’ and ‘values’. That is what I write about, and that is where my interest lies.

        The question is whether what I do (what I value essentially) will be villified or applauded. And that goes very much to the heart of national value-questions.

        If you have differences of opinion, or feel that I need to be appropriately schooled in a better and more correct attitude, it is your civic duty to make this plain to me.

  8. Chris Marschner

    All nations have anthems. Their purpose is to engender national unity not division. They are not merely a means to let people know the games are about to begin. As for Fergie, if she was trying to convey what our anthem represents, I’ll give her a pass. If she was trying to simply put her spin on it, she failed to connect with me.

    I agree with Jack when he stated “The National Anthem is not about the singer. It is a musical declaration that the nation is strong and thriving, and that it is equal to whatever challenges it encounters. Performed respectfully and with skill and forethought, The Star-Spangled Banner can communicate this, and be stirring to all Americans irrespective of musical preferences and tastes.”

    I just spent the last hour enjoying national anthems of other nations. In each, despite the fact that I am a citizen of the United States, I felt the emotion that was to be conveyed. Beyond the beautiful melodies, the lyrics communicated what it meant to be a citizen of those nations. It was pride for one’s homeland. Each conveys a sense of common purpose specific to its people. Each anthem creates a philosophical and psychological construct of what its people want to be an enduring legacy of their society. It is who they are.

    None attempted to stylize their arrangements. Certain things need no embellishment or adulteration. We would not want Peter Max to recreate the Mona Lisa with his stylistic interpretation nor should we want to hear the vocal stylings of an artist’s rendition of our, or any other nation’s, anthem. Our anthem has meaning and should be sung without the extra notes for they often destroy the sentiment.

    Each of the following demonstrate the people’s veneration of their anthem and the commonality of purpose of the nation. They are all extraordinarily powerful.
    (I wish I knew how to embed these videos)

    France:

    Israeli:
    https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=israeli+national+anthem+youtube&&view=detail&mid=A09D1C49945B7E109BAEA09D1C49945B7E109BAE&rvsmid=6480329B8372D88CED836480329B8372D88CED83&FORM=VDQVAP

    South Africa:
    https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=south+african+national+anthem+youtube&view=detail&mid=991B8DE6A9E286941B7D991B8DE6A9E286941B7D&FORM=VIRE

    Lately, we have been highly critical of those that promote nationalism, but nationalism in moderation can be a good thing. National pride allows peoples to gain a feeling of belonging to something bigger then themselves. It does not and should not give them a feeling of superiority over other nations. It is merely a sense of commonality of purpose. Moreover, a sense of national belonging engenders a sense of good faith among its peoples – something that seems to be sorely missing today in the U.S.

      • Here is a near-perfect example:

        “Lately, we have been highly critical of those that promote nationalism, but nationalism in moderation can be a good thing. National pride allows peoples to gain a feeling of belonging to something bigger then themselves. It does not and should not give them a feeling of superiority over other nations. It is merely a sense of commonality of purpose. Moreover, a sense of national belonging engenders a sense of good faith among its peoples – something that seems to be sorely missing today in the U.S.”

        This is where the intellect must make the choice to override the emotions. What happens, and what will happen in relation to this comment I make, is a) emoted reaction, b) angry condemnation or c) silence.

        There is no nationalism more problematic than Zionism. And there is no state that is more troubled and in danger than that of Israel. There is no international political situation more ‘embroiling’ to America than that of support of Israel. Basic, honest facts.

        And there is no modern oppressive situation more obvious than that of the result of this particular Zionist-nationalism. (Though it is of course ‘small potatoes’ in comparison to America’s Iraq adventures.) And there is no better example of ‘emoted patriotism’ and the sort of emoted Christian-Zionism that, in American in any case, stands behind what is (intellectually understood that is) the criminal Israeli state.

        But the emotions stand in the way of ‘clear seeing’. And a whole nation can come under the sway of emotions in various forms of mass hysteria.

        You don’t have to turn to ‘Israel’s enemies’ to understand all these points. You can just listen to the Israelis (Miko Peled, Ilan Pappe and others). In order to understand the core issues though, one has to consciously drop the emotionalized ‘allegience’ which is an emotionalism that inhibits intellectual understanding.

        • “There is no nationalism more problematic than Zionism.”

          Black nationalism in America (and white) is much more problematic. Quebecois is problematic. Explain how Israeli pride in an Israeli state is the most problematic “nationalism”.

          “And there is no state that is more troubled and in danger than that of Israel.”

          Israel has gone, what 5 for 5 in it’s wars? Out numbered every single time? I don’t think they are the most troubled and endangered state.

          “There is no international political situation more ‘embroiling’ to America than that of support of Israel.”

          Afghanistan
          Syria
          Iraq
          Iran
          Russian Flexing
          Great World Migration of our current era
          China’s Expansive Probes

          • There was a time, not so long ago, that I very reflexively defended Israel and Zionism along the lines that you seem to and that many people do. For different reasons, and ones that I wish to see as a result of growth and maturity, as well as better understanding of ethics and morality, and more commitment (I hope) to these, my orientation has changed. As I mentioned once here it took my 3 years just to be able to examine certain arguments that demanded a fairly radical inner reassessment.

            In respect to your comments, and as an answer to them, I can only make suggestions for sources that you might wish to consider and include. You could look into those of Inan Pappe and Miko Peled. Or Norman Fincklestein who is verry solid in his argumentation.

            You could also consider the purely religious argument which substantially undermines Zionism. This is not work that I can undertake for you. I could outline some of the basic ideas, yes that is true, but how could I offer to you in a post what would likely take some months of study and consideration? It took me years …

            From my perspective, the more information we expose ourself to, the better. Well, that is in fact both true and false. The more information we expose ourself to, the more sides we look at, the harder these issues become. And also the more our own complicity in certain issues and problems becomes apparent.

            But what is the real upshot here? That conversation is on-going and that is good …

          • Let’s not allow Russia’s Bots to get between us! 😉

        • “And there is no modern oppressive situation more obvious than that of the result of this particular Zionist-nationalism.”

          Oppressive?

          How so?

          The so-called ‘Palestinians’ would be peaceful citizens of Israel if *they* would chose to stop trying to destroy Israel.

          • valkygrrl

            The so-called ‘Palestinians’ would be peaceful citizens of Israel if *they* would chose to stop trying to destroy Israel.

            No. I have no idea where you got the idea that was even on the table. Israel is determined to remain a Jewish state and thus cannot allow itself to have a majority of citizens be non-Jewish.

            • I wonder what explains the some 1.6 million+ Arab citizens of Israel then…

              • valkygrrl

                Historic choices and the fact that they’re outnumbered 4 to 1.

                • Wait, didn’t you just say they would be the majority in Israel…?

                  • valkygrrl

                    What’s this bullshit? Are you sealioning me? The Abab citizens in no way include the non-citizens who live in Gaza and the West Bank territories and people from those places who are refugees in other nearby countries and wish to return home. All together that’s about 9 million before you can add in that 1.6 million of yours.

                    Ass.

                    By the way, citizenship was only offered to the people of east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights back in ’67. The other 9 million don’t have that option.

                • So, in other words, the Palestinian non-citizens could be participants in Israel’s republic if they’d stop agitating for the extermination of Israel…

                  I rest my case.

                  • valkygrrl

                    No that is not on the table. How many ways do I have to say it? They do not have that opportunity. They have the option of accepting occupation and occasionally getting push out of the way so a new settlement can be built, or resisting it.

                    Personally I’d prefer they accept it but that’s the emotional side of my brain, I have skin, or rather blood in the game with some family members living in Israel. The other side of my brain says resisting occupation is only natural.

          • The way I understand things, or am trying to understand things, is through the privelaging of one basic act or choice: seeing the truth, and telling the truth. What I have come to see and am coming to see more and more is that *seeing* is a fraught activity. It is very very hard to cut through what insulates us from *truth* because of all these fore-structures that stand between us and it.

            I have tried to point out that ‘cherished views of reality’ are usually if not always deeply tied to and enmeshed with personal sentiments. Our sense of ‘self’ is bound up in the things we ‘passionately believe’. And when let us say a ‘false belief’ is challenged, it places strain and stress on the self which is asked to, or forced to, adjust.

            In the simplest of simple terms Jews returned to Palestibe after a very bad European experience. And they faught to take over a land that for a looooonnngggg time had been in the hands of others. They employed what are Biblical images to paint their return as a Biblical journey of Return. And in this sense they ‘sold’ their story or presented it to themselves but also to the world in these terms. You can see Miko Peled on YouTube who explains it better.

            This is a fact. It is a simple fact.

            The result of this attack and occupation —- these are the only terms that can and should be used if one is interested in truthful description —- is oppression: driving people off their land, out of their fields, out of their ancestral homes, and into banishment or into Gaza. Simple statement of facts.

            There you have it in skeletal form. The ‘whole world’ sees and understands this, and knows it, except the Micronesians and the Marshal Islanders, Guatemala and a couple other countries.

            Now, what is the upshot of this? It is not singular but is various. How can we *see* our way through the world in a truthful manner? How can we gain or attain ‘truthful perspective’? Is it possible? Is it desirable?

        • Chris Marschner

          Aliza

          It has become clear to me that you have a clearly different outlook on the world than I. You pen many posts that to me are pure sophistry through which cloaks your bigotry.

          • Yes, I understand this. I appreciate that you bring up the term sophistry. ‘A false argument made to seem the correct or the true one’. Plato’s entire career was that of against the sophists. Similarly, I wish that my entire project to be the same or to mirror, even in a small degree, the same intentionality.

            I do not mind that you see me as a sophist, but I challenge you to demonstrate a) that I am one and b) why I am one.

            I am not suggesting that you do this now right at this moment, but I am suggesting that when you-singular confront me-singular and we-plural that you can only do it through solid counter-argument, not mere name-calling or tossing up a particular word-label.

            I would additionally suggest that you might modify your impression that I am a ‘bigot’ and recommend bigotry. It is too easy to attach that word or any word and attempt that it do service in the absence of argument.

            My ideas really stem from what I feel are more solid, more essentialist, constitutional arguments.

    • Chris

      This is a very good comment.

  9. Chris

  10. Chris M: I embedded the same great rendition of the French anthem you did in the original post…just noticed the duplication. That’s OK; it deserves to be heard twice.

  11. Ann Althouse’s post about Fergie’s anthem looks a lot like mine, with the same videos comparing her and Roseanne.

    For the record, mine was up three hours earlier. And she still won’t put up an Ethics Alarms link…

  12. trumpgurl42

    This wouldn’t be an issue if everyone in the stadium sang the anthem themselves..
    In fact, it’s preferable even over Whitney Houston’s rendition or even the Chicago Black Hawks experience.
    I say offer it up as a stadium-wide karaoke moment with someone traditional leading us.

    • Do you think a star performer would be inhibited from personalizing their singing by the crowd singing along?

      • trumpgurl42

        They would be drowned out, at least.
        Americans have become complacent. It is evident by the awkward silence of the crowd except for the lone performer on the field. People don’t even know the words any more; certainly very few if any American gold medalist.

  13. Robert Merrill was the Yankees’ go to guy for the Anthem for many years. His brisk recorded version could be heard in many ballpsrks.

    This is one of those little things that I have no idea if everyone knows it, or it’s almost completely forgotten: beginning in 1969, the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team would occasionally switch out the Anthem for a recording of Kate Smith singing God Bless America. The team seemed to win when they played that record, and superstition took root. This finally resulted in Kate, in her mid-sixties and dicey health, sometimes coming to Philadelphia to sing in person before important games. At the time of this rendition, in 1974, she or the recording were 36-3-1:

    So Kate became something of a mascot for the Flyers, who were roughest bunch of guys in hockey. The ties extended beyond the team to the city at large, and when Kate’s health and finances declined there was a public appeal to help her out.

    • My late father, as a veteran, detested Kate Smith and felt she exploited patriotism as a career gimmick. He permanently biased me against her, and the song. Of course, there were other reasons to hate the Flyers.

      • Other Bill

        But then again, there is my favorite among my father-in-law’s hilarious putdowns: “That guy’s so clueless he couldn’t find Kate Smith in a phone booth.”

  14. Still Spartan

    Whitney Houston was so freaking talented, I am still mad that she abused her body and deprived us of her voice. Her rendition is just amazing. Lady Gaga continues to impress as well — I am hard pressed to name a (current) more talented and versatile songwriter/singer. Did you watch Lady Gaga essentially morph into Julie Andrews at the Oscars? (Last year or the year before.) It was insane.

    One note about Roseanne. She is not a singer and everyone knew that — I think she should be given a pass because she was a comic, a shocking one at that. Of course that is what her song would sound like. The mistake was in giving her the gig in the first place. Fergie has no excuse — she had the talent and could have done an amazing job.

    • Other Bill

      I’ve always found Whitney Houston little more than a shouter. She’s just too loud. Not much artistry, just massive amounts of volume.

  15. Steve-O-in-NJ

    You don’t need to be a celeb.

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