Monday, February 06, 2006

Oh Say Can You See, version XL

February 5, 2006. Detroit, Michigan.

Superbowl XL.

The Steelers and the Seahawks - a clash of titans that has millions of fans saying, "meh".

Kickoff time approaches, but first - please rise for the singing of our National Anthem...

Aaron Neville and Aretha Franklin accompanied on piano by Dr. John and backed by a 150 person choir...

What. A. Mess.

One half New Orleans style, one half Motown soul, with a dash of gospel for good measure. Neville's reedy falsetto versus Aretha's powerhouse pipes (she barely needed a microphone). I just couldn't take it.

Is America the only country on the planet who's national anthem is morphed to suit the personal flavah of the performer who sings it? And if so, why are we okay with that?

Aretha by herself would have done the song justice - a simple yet powerful rendition. Remember Whitney Houston's performance in 1991? They played it on the radio and sold singles of it for weeks afterwards, it was so great. In the age of digital downloads, servers would have melted under the strain.

Compare that to someone like Mariah Carey in 2002. Don't get me wrong, Mariah has talent, but she's the only performer I know where 75% of the notes she sings were never in the original song.

I know, I know, these renditions highlight the artistic diversity that makes America great. Whatever. It's the national anthem, for crying out loud. Shouldn't some things be off limits to these types of embellishments?

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