As the ongoing World Cup 2010 in South Africa illustrates multiple times daily, few elements are capable — at least, publicly — of stirring the blood, increasing the heart rate and heightening passions more than a performance of a national anthem at the onset of an anticipated event. When done properly, in tune, and with accurate lyrics and proper phrasing intact, the song has the mystic ability to transform mere enthusiasm into singularly-focused zeal. Hair standing on the back of one’s neck, what the Hawaiian’s call “chicken skin” and eyes with moisture content of Niagara Falls are the accompanying physical contexts. You are now as ready to battle with your team as if one of Leonidas’ 300.

Pity the poor singer who falls short. At the very start, they’re with you; however, mess up and you’re now a source rich in schadenfreude awaiting to be mined.

That same crowd’s fervor for the team can instantly morph into fervor against the offending performer with the speed of a Gen. McChrystal missive (peep the video atop). Thankfully, the brave young lady had classy coach Maurice Cheeks, known throughout his active basketball playing career as an “assists man,” gallantly step in with yet another assist and the crowd roared its appreciation for her rally and his act at the finish.

Others aren’t anywhere near as fortunate. Case in point is the singer below who may still be in search of hockey version of Maurice Cheeks.  Sadly no Mo was present and at the end, some injury was added  to her insult.

Multiple Olympic Gold Medals and the resulting stardom are no guarantee of solid performance. Witness Carl Lewis fall on his vocal sword in his home state of New Jersey.

Even for the most seasoned professional vocalists, the Star-Spangled Banner is far from an easy song. But, folks, there’s no excuse for not knowing the lyrics beforehand. And yes, this goes double for you uniformed personnel.

Lest you think this be the sole domain of the USA, South Africa, home to a beautiful and perhaps world’s sole quadrilingual anthem, had to stomach a massive fail job and the subsequent raging controversy at home after this performance ridiculousness from a singer hack who may have only learned heard the song seconds prior. As with the previous clips, peep the facial reactions.

Our Canuck neighbors to the north could be forgiven if they had decided to close the border based on the butchering of their beloved  “O Canada” by this two-bit Vegas lounge singer. Those who know the song realize that his version is practically a remix and bares about as much resemblance to the actual version as his actual hair color does to his peroxided locks.

I end this post with some philosophical rhetoric. Which is the greater indignity, to have your nation’s national anthem defiled by ugly vocals or to not have your anthem played at all? The national soccer team of Ghana was faced with the latter while in Australia on a “friendly” pre-World Cup tune up. What do you think?



  1. I think messing it up would be the greater indignity! Btw, I had a chance to make fun of Carl Lewis’ National Anthem about a year ago when we went back to UH, his alma mater. I just couldnt do it. My friend with one eye failed at taking a pic and it seemed like he just wanted to get out of there. As he left, I should have screamed, ” And the Rockets RED GLARE!”

  2. Oh man, you should have! That would have been awesome. And don’t think for a second Carl wouldn’t have stopped to acknowledge it: His ego wouldn’t allow otherwise.