Fergie sings the National Anthem prior to the 67th NBA All-Star Game. (Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Please, event planners of America, do us all a favor and stop inviting egomaniac celebrities to sing the National Anthem at your shows.
Sunday night’s horrendous reworking of “The Star Spangled Banner” into a vampy lounge-lizard torch song by the singer Fergie was just the latest – and hardly the worst – atrocity of this type. “I’m a risk taker artistically,” Fergie explained yesterday. “I wanted to try something special.”
I’m sure that’s pretty much what Roseanne had in mind back in 1990 when she infuriated the crowd at a San Diego Padres baseball game by shrieking out the anthem and treating the fans to an obscene gesture as she left the field. Super classy!
I bet Stevie Tyler of Aerosmith thinks it’s “special” when he makes the anthem his own by screaming out the verses. And you can throw in every other two-bit singer who sees the anthem as an opportunity not to honor tradition or our country, but to draw attention to themselves.
These attention junkies don’t get it. The singing of the anthem is, for better or worse, a shared cultural moment, in which the performer’s task is to lead those present in song, not show off the unique stylings that made them into soon-to-be has-beens.
This is not to say that the anthem always has to be done exactly the same way.
Over the years, giant talents like Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and Jose Feliciano have delivered stylized anthems that evoked more than just their own reflections in the mirror. And when Whitney Houston played it straight and let her magnificent instrument carry the anthem, it was memorable.
But Fergie, you’re no Whitney Houston.
And if we’re going to have to see the anthem constantly vandalized by narcissists, maybe it’s best if they just cue the organist and let the crowd sing it by themselves.
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