A couple weeks ago at the NBA All-Star game, Fergie sang the national anthem, and it caught a lot of attention. The rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was not one of those “she did amazing” moments. It was more of a “did she really just do that?” moment.
The Black Eyed Peas singer turned the national anthem into a bluesy jazz song. A Rolling Stone article said that during Fergie’s singing there were “low chuckles throughout the sold-out Staples Center.” Now I am pretty sure a singer doesn’t want laughing while she is singing. Applause or cheering is what they expect, but even some of the basketball players couldn’t hold their laughter in. If you go on YouTube and watch the two-and-a-half-minute video, you can see Steph Curry laughing followed by Jimmy Kimmel’s reactions. Yikes, right?
At halftime, Shaquille O’Neal called Fergie’s rendition “sexy” and conclude that the national anthem is not supposed to be sexy. It was getting all kinds of criticism on social media. Some even correlated the song to Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” performance. This isn’t the first time that the Star-Spangled Banner has been messed controversial.
In April 2016, at a Los Angeles Lakers game, the Red Hot Chili Peppers delivered a “bass-only” rendition that did not get good feedback either. In 1983, at the NBA All-Star game Marvin Gay gave the traditional song his own R&B spin. According to Rolling Stone, Isiah Thomas, an All-Star for the Detroit Pistons, said Gay’s rendition was well received. He said it was a beautiful moment.
“Not because his techniques were good – they were – but because spiritually, in that moment, he really captured the feelings of everyone in The Forum,” Thomas said.
Fergie was embarrassed after her performance and apologized. “I’ve always been honored and proud to perform the national anthem and last night I wanted to try something special for the NBA. I’m a risk taker artistically, but clearly this rendition didn’t strike the intended tone. I love this country and honestly tried my best.”
Taking a risk and trying to turn the national anthem into something else is not a smart move, and I hope singers take this as a warning to just sing the national anthem how it is supposed be sung. No jazzy twist or bass only.
“When it comes to the national anthem…don’t…just regular is fine,” Kimmel said.
And it is. It’s a traditional song, so we should keep as it is.
By Katie Crouse, guest writer