Shearer’s Spotlight: In Defense of Steven Tyler


Each week here on VH1 Tuner, our VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown host Jim Shearer (@jimshearer on Twitter) will be sharing his Shearer’s Spotlight with us. Be sure to tune into the VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown tomorrow morning when it airs on VH1 at 9 a.m. ET/PT.

As I’m sure you’ve literally heard, Steven Tyler sang the National Anthem at last week’s AFC Championship game in New England. Because the internet has perfected the art of making mountains out of molehills, pop-culture and sports-related blogs teed off on Tyler, making it seem like William Hung sung the National Anthem.

Here’s why it wasn’t as bad as you’ve been told:

It Was a Perfect Length
Before Game 5 of the 1968 World Series, Puerto Rican singing sensation, Jose Feliciano, delivered a lengthy improvisational version of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” which not only irked various fans, but made Detroit’s starting pitcher, Mickey Lolich, get cold in the bullpen, causing him to give up three runs in the first inning (Detroit, however, ended up winning the game and eventually the series). Steven Tyler’s version of the anthem caused no players on either team a disruption in their pre-game rituals.

Sound Bounces
Why do musicians record albums in a studio? Because live sound in a stadium sucks. When Steven Tyler was singing the anthem, I’m sure he not only heard his voice, but 17 different echoed versions of it, which makes it impossible to deliver a pitch-perfect performance.

He Actually Sang It
Many live renditions of the National Anthem are not sung live; they’re recorded live, then lip-synced over during the actual performance. Before Super Bowl XXV Whitney Houston delivered an unforgettable version of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Why did it sound so great? Because she recorded it beforehand (if you’re wondering why she would do such a thing, refer to the reason above.)

This Is How He Sounds
Last time Aerosmith played your local amphitheater, there’s a good chance Steven Tyler’s voice sounded just like it did on Sunday. You know why you didn’t hear about it on the Internet though? Behind a wall of bass, thumping drums, and distorted guitars (not to mention the audience being buzzed on concession-stand beer), it’s sometimes difficult to realize that Steven Tyler is not Andrea Bocelli.

His Side Gig
Because Steven Tyler is a judge on American Idol, some would think it’s hypocritical of him to deliver a bad vocal performance (since he thwarts young people’s dreams for doing the exact same thing.) The best Idol judge ever was Simon Cowell, and we know nothing about his vocal abilities, probably for good reason.

All’s Well That Ends Well
If Steven Tyler’s performance of the “Star-Spangled Banner” was truly atrocious (disrespectful, appalling, horrific, etc.) do you think New England Patriots’ owner, Robert Kraft, would have let Steven Tyler sit in his owner’s box throughout the duration of the afternoon, then invite him to stand on the winner’s podium at the end of the game? I think not.

[Photo: Getty Images]

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