Let me start by saying I love Christina Aguilera, I think she’s one of the few singers out there who has genuine talent. But what she did to our national anthem was brutal. She skipped words, trilled unnecessarily and hit every note except those that are part of the song. I know it’s difficult to get up and sing in front of a crowd but she’s a professional and her performance was amateurish at best. Christina, really, I expect more from you.
When I teach American history at the local university, I actually spend a significant amount of time discussing the national anthem with my class. I play the standard version as well as a few untraditional versions for my students and we talk about why it was written, what the different interpretations mean and how political and social events influence the way we feel about the song. You should see how engaged my classes become during this part of the class. One of the things that I’ve learned from this part of the course is that many students don’t know the words to the national anthem beyond the first few lines. I remember when we had to sing it at the start of each school day, when did that end? Seriously, it’s disappointing that students don’t have to learn the American national anthem. Then again, we’re a nation who argues over whether or not school children should have to say the Pledge of Allegiance.
I know that people view the singing of the national anthem as nothing more than a performance before the start of a sporting event, but still a certain amount of respect and decorum should be required. Believe it or not, people, we are a nation that is still at war and there are people out there fighting so artists can take creative license with a song they barely know and it’s just not cool.
So I’ve taken the liberty of coming up with a few “rules” for the singing of The Star~Spangled Banner:
- Know the words. All of them. Google ’em, look them up in a book, they’re not that hard to find.
- Do not try to “own” the song. It’s the American National Anthem, it belongs to all of us. Besides, it has been done to death and only a few people were able to get away with it ~ Jimi Hendrix, KISS and Whitney Houston.
- Show some respect. Guys remove your hats, ladies stop digging through your purses, kids stop texting. You can do it.
What did you think of Christina Aguilera’s performance last night? Do you think students should have to learn the words to The Star~Spangled Banner?