posted by Joe Anaya on July 5th, 2014

Over the 4th of July weekend, I heard the national anthem over the radio while watching fireworks. Every school kid knows that Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner. But not everyone understands that in 1812 it was just a poem, Defense of Fort McHenry. The words were added to the music of The Anacreontic Song and later officially designated as the national anthem in 1931.  Below is a random list of famous and infamous renditions of our national anthem.

Original Bad Rendition – Willie Nelson, Democratic Convention 1980
Before the internet and everything being on video, Willie Nelson was possibly the first famous mess-up of the national anthem. The Red Headed Stranger forgot the words to the chagrin of the embattled Carter administration. You might chalk it up to nervousness, but I’m guessing a little weed had something to do with it.

Best Traditional Rendition – Whitney Houston, NFL Superbowl 1991

During the first Iraq war, patriotism was high and Whitney Houston was still at the height of her powers. I saw it live and got goose bumps.

Worst Rendition – Rosanne Barr,  MLB baseball game 1990
I personally think she attempted a comedy rendition playing on how difficult it is to sing the song for real, but in the venomous backlash she took cover by saying, she was trying her best.

Worst Serious Attempted Rendition – Carl Lewis 1993
Undoubtedly, the worst serious attempt to sing the anthem. Just because you can run fast doesn’t mean you can sing 1 ½ octaves.

Sexiest Rendition – Marvin Gaye, NBA All Star game 1983
It feels vaguely sacrilegious to want to “get it on” while standing for the national anthem. And yet it happened.

Best Rock Rendition – Jimi Hendrix, Woodstock 1969
I first heard this song at a friend’s house. Maybe because we were getting a little “experience,” it took me a while to recognize what song Jimi was vamping through. It starts about a minute into the clip.

Worst Rock Rendition – The Fray, 2012 NCAA basketball championship
This rendition was only “rock” by the fact that the The Fray had a song playing on rock stations. In an attempt to be different, they turned the national anthem into some sort of emo-folk abomination. I didn’t hate it as much as everyone else seemed to, but you be the judge.

Most Heartwarming Rendition – Natalie Gilbert, NBA Playoffs Portland Trailblazers 2003
Natalie was a 13-year-old girl brought in to sing before the game. Maurice Cheeks was the coach for the Portland Trailblazers. You’ll love what he does.



File Under Jack of all Trades