When thrash titans Metallica took the field at San Francisco’s AT&T Park to play “The Star Spangled Banner” last week, they were but the latest in a long line of high energy decibel dealers putting their rough stamp on our hallowed National Anthem. Ever since Jimi Hendrix serenaded the Woodstock faithful that bleary August morning in 1969 with his electric-fried version of “The Star Spangled Banner,” rockers have been figuring out daring different ways to rock Francis Scott Key’s composition in instrumental form. We now present to you the 10 Most Rocking Versions of The National Anthem. Give us your feedback on vote on where you think they rank and remember to vote early and vote often.
After the Beyontroversial performance of the National Anthem at President Obama’s inauguration, there has been an incredible amount of focus on whether or not performers are singing the “Star Spangled Banner” without the aid of a backing track, the likes of which have not seen since the days of Milli Vanilli. Beyoncé came under extreme fire for lip-synching the Francis Scott Key’s patriotic ode to our revolutionary brethren, and after watching Alicia Keys perform the anthem tonight just before the start of Super Bowl XLVII, she clearly wanted to avoid any such controversy.
Although only the Superdome’s sound operator knows for sure whether or not there was any audio tomfoolery going on before kickoff tonight, to our ears, Keys’ version of the “Star Spangled Banner” seemed like it was sung AND played live (on the piano, no less). Why do we feel like this performance was “real”? For one, it was one of the slowest renditions of the song that we’ve ever heard. Secondly, much like Mrs. Carter’s defiant version at her press conference on Thursday, Keys deliberately paused in certain, semi-unorthodox spots of the song to verbally riff in such a way that seemed almost pre-calculated to ward off lip-synching accusations. Her voice, which some have been saying has been a bit pitchy of late, sounded as good as we’ve heard it in some time. But that’s just our take. What do YOU think?
Watch Alicia Keys sing the “Star Spangled Banner” below!
After being front and center of an international, Beyontroversiallip-synching scandal last week, Beyoncé decided this afternoon was the right time to address the haters who accused her of mouthing along to the lyrics of our National Anthem. However, being the King that she is, she didn’t wait for some silly reporter from Access Hollywood to ask her a question about it. Instead, she opened up her nationally televised press conference this afternoon by straight up BELTING the lyrics to the “Star Spangled Banner” in front of a hot mic and a room full of reporters.
To demonstrate that she wasn’t singing along to a pre-recorded track (which she would later admit that she did last week), she made Francis Scott Key and the entire populous of the United States of America proud by bellowing out some of her patented, powerhouse vocal runs and spontaneously emphasizing certain phrases (“THE BOMBS!”). She then went on to wrap up her performance in the most shadeworthy fashion imaginable, simply by declaring, “ANY QUESTIONS?”
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We would’ve been happy if, at that point, Bey pulled the ole *DROPS MIC* routine and simply sashayed out of the room, middle finger in the air, not answering a single question LIKE A BAWSE. However, being the well-choreographed and proper Methodist girl that she is, she DID field a few Qs from the intrepid reporters on hand (including one, we’re not kidding, ABOUT HER TOOTHBRUSH?!?!).
Lana Del Rey is 26-years-old, actually, which is just three more than A$AP Rocky‘s 23. Age being no thing, though, Rocky is sounding quite smitten by his A$AP Jackie O.
“She’s a genius,” he gushes in this interview with “Wassup”director Andy Capper, explaining that the idea for the “National Anthem” video — and his casting as the POTUS to her FLOTUS — was all Rey’s. “Lana wrote the treatment with me in mind,” says POTUS Rocky. “Sh*t is like, everybody knows we got a thing for each other and we wanted to show that on screen.” And all that touching and feeling they do? It’s got him thinking: “Look at this b****, I wanna f*** the sh** outta her. Look at her she’s gotta be in her late 30s and shit… Err, Hello?” Read more…
UPDATE (10:48 p.m.): See below for The Fray’s response to this controversy from their official Twitter page!
If you’re a “Grammy-nominated and internationally acclaimed world touring band,” the decision whether or not to accept an offer to perform the National Anthem is fraught with landmines. On one hand, the decision would seemingly be a no-brainer: Who wouldn’t want to honor their country AND perform for tens of millions of fans at once? On the other hand, though, even if you turn in a great performance, people will almost certainly compare your version unfavorably to the likes of Whitney Houston and Marvin Gaye. But if you should perform it, say, less than awesomely, people will never forgive you (see: Cyndi Lauper at this year’s U.S. Open).
Now that we have set the table, it’s time to share with you the following (low quality) video of The Fray‘s performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” at tonight’s NCAA Men’s Basketball championship game (if we find better video, we’ll swap this version out). Their take on the National Anthem is perhaps most fairly described as an untraditional one, one that featured some boldly unique instrumentation (in the form of a tambourine, possibly a snare drum, and a couple of acoustic guitars) and a new, rhythmic way of delivering Francis Scott Key‘s lyrics. A quick check of Twitter shows the negative responses outweighing the positive, but we want to hear what it is that YOU think about The Fray’s version of “The Star-Spangled Banner”:
The unsung hero of last night’s Super Bowl was Kelly Clarkson. Between Madonna’s spectacular visual assault at the half time show and M.I.A.’s controversy wielding middle finger, Clarkson barely got a look in for her moving rendition of the National Anthem. And how! Meticulously groomed, Kelly appeared like a glamourpuss in a form fitting black dress, smokey eyes and a sleek hairstyle. Her perfect look matched her flawless vocal — Kelly hit every note with stirring accuracy. Dynamic and moving, the performance show cased Kelly’s beautiful voice and the ease with which she employs it, doing extreme justice to both her talent and the country’s National Anthem.
Madonna’s halftime performance at this year’s Super Bowl may very well make this list, but it hasn’t happened yet, so until it does, here are my five favorite Super Bowl Music Moments:
5. “The Super Bowl Shuffle” (Super Bowl XX, 1985-86)
A pump-up rap anthem made by the Chicago Bears leading up to Super Bowl XX. Looking back, it’s hard not to wince at football players trying to dance, but back then the song (and accompanying music video) was awesome, charting at #41 on Billboard’s Hot 100.
4. Michael Jackson Doing Absolutely Nothing (Super Bowl XXVII, 1993)
Dangerous-Era Michael Jackson did perform a handful of songs, but what I remember most is his frozen-in-time pose at the beginning of the halftime show. If you’re Michel Jackson you can use some of your allotted set time doing absolutely nothing.
It might be Madonna Week, but it seems like there’s a generous helping of Kelly Clarkson scooped on top of the Madonna madness. While Madge is taking care of half time entertainment at the Super Bowl, Kelly has been tasked with the honor of singing the national anthem, and we’re just as excited to see her belt it out as we are to see Madonna leaping across the stage in a sparkly catsuit. And it looks like it’s not only us jumping on the Clarkson band wagon — Kelly is shooting up the charts with some impressive steam.
Kelly’s track “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” (watch the video after the jump) has made it to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 today, and if we were in primary school we’d be singing something like “First is the worst, second is the best!” (although number one placeholder, Adele, is most certainly not the worst!). And speaking of Adele, will Kelly be able to topple her this week? We learned the power of an Adele number one last year; and as we’re learning this year, her reign is absolutely unassailable. Adele’s latest number one “Set Fire To The Rain” will be a tough one to beat, especially with Adele’s record at the top, and her forthcoming first post-surgery performance at the Grammys (where Kelly is also performing, albeit less momentously). But interest in Kelly has certainly been piqued this week — will she prove to be the stronger of the two?
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.
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.
Seemingly everywhere you turn your head these days, Steven Tyler is standing there. Leno on Friday night? Check. American Idol on Fox? Check. On the victory podium with AFC champions the New England Patriots? Check. Wait, what???
Yes, that’s right, the Aerosmith lead singer is buddy buddy with billionaire businessman and owner of the NFL’s New England Patriots franchise, Robert Kraft. He brought some good luck to his hometown team by singing the National Anthem at yesterday’s AFC Championship game, a performance that his Idol co-hort Randy Jackson would describe as “pitchy.” Depending on how many cups of CLAM CHOWDA you ingested yesterday afternoon, you’ll either love it or hate it.
Oh, and after the seventeen hours of football that was on yesterday (only a slight exaggeration), there was a new episode of American Idol on, too. We don’t know what’s going on with the water in San Diego, but Tyler didn’t score very high on our new Dude Is Acting Shady Meter (which now come complete with an ACTUAL meter, designed by our own Lauren Deiman). He didn’t so much as bat an eyelash with Jim Carrey‘s 24 year-old daughter, Jane, but he did turn on the charm a smidge for two of yesterday’s female contestants.