Keller @ Large: Giving Christina Aguilera A Pass

Christina Aguilera is sorry, it seems, for the stir caused by her version of the national anthem prior to Sunday’s Super Bowl. As you probably know by now, Aguilera garbled the lyrics of the Star Spangled Banner, and is taking plenty of heat for it, following in a long line of singers who’ve run afoul of the anthem.

On her website there’s a gracious enough statement explaining that “I got so caught up in the moment of the song that I lost my place. I can only hope that everyone could feel my love for this country and that the true spirit of its anthem still came through.”

Listen to Jon Keller’s Commentary

I personally am inclined to give Christina a pass on this. She is hardly the first American to struggle with the lyrics of the anthem. A national poll a few years ago found that 61% of us couldn’t repeat all the words of the first stanza, let alone the other three.

But I’m not sure I buy Aguilera’s contention that she tried to convey the true spirit of the song.

The Star Spangled Banner is an ode to the valor of American soldiers fighting the British in the war of 1812, the sight of the flag still waving over Fort McHenry testimony to the fact that their sacrifice was not in vain. I don’t know how Christina feels about war and the military, but she sang the anthem Sunday night like it was another item from her concert repertoire, like ‘Genie in a Bottle” or “What a Girl Wants.”

As a poster on her website noted: “You oversang the song way too much and lost the melody. It isn’t about you Christina….it is about the thousands of men and women in the military and honoring them.”

If poor Christina was guilty of letting narcissism get the upper hand on patriotism out of ignorance, well, she’s not the only one who occasionally suffers from that problem. Too often, you’re forced to wonder if everyone in the land of the free truly understands how difficult it was to make us free, and how hard it is to keep us that way.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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  • taxedout

    Next time get someone who can Sing!!!!

  • Stephen Stein

    I would disagree to the following extent:

    Whenever you have a performance of the national anthem that is more than an accompanied sing-along, the performance is going to be “about” the performer, to some degree. We all know the song (except for you, Christina :-), so the arrangement and the performer will add individuality, but the patriotic feelings it stirs will come from inside the listener.

    I sing a lot of barbershop, and I’m partial to the Four Freshmen arrangement:

    I have a fondness for this Grateful Dead performance of the anthem at a ’93 SF Giants game:

    I recall a Star Spangled Banner performance by Ray Charles that segued into America the Beautiful (which Ray always did better than anyone else) at some sporting event 20+ years ago. I can’t find a Youtube of it, however, which makes me think my memory is somehow faulty.

    • Cynic

      I was going to mention the Ray Charles song…..Wasn’t that absolutely Beautiful?

  • Eryn murphy

    I am sorry did i miss something. Was this an american audition? Are we so shallow that we criticize someone for making a mistake. Are stars suppose to be super human and not make mistakes. I think that singer handled herself with such grace. She didnt pause she reversed and kept singing in an extremely large audience, what poise. Now we are gonna criticize the singers style of singing! How sad. It’s not about the singer take pause to the song, its your anthem ! America is supposed to be about unity. People are laying down their lives for us. Not very becoming to be safe at home belittling a fellow american for making a mistake while trying to honor our country in song! Unity, Unity, Unity, and most of all peace to all.

  • mikey

    Ms. Aguilera’s version of the national anthem was the least of this Super Bowl’s problems. Fifty bucks says Dallas will never see another Super Bowl.

  • KathyD

    So, I wrote a really thoughtful response to this but because WBZ’s web gurus have decided to refresh each and every web page (including those that have commenting functionality), the refresh blew away my comment as I was about to click Submit.

    Nice goin’ guys. How to encourage audience participation.

    • StanleyRamon

      I feel your pain. I usually do the copy and paste thing too.

    • Stephen Stein

      You’ve got 6 minutes. Or you could compose it off-line and paste it in. Even then, there’s no guarantee that the comment will show up.

      People have complained about this from Day 1, yet there’s been no response.

      • KathyD

        Yeah, I hear ya. I’ve sent several emails to the GM detailing the issues on this “blog” (which still really isn’t a blog nor does it contain all of Jon’s stuff) but have never received one response.

    • mikey

      I feel your pain. The way in which this website blinks and flickers sometimes I’m never posted.

  • The Owl

    Given what she was likely paid for this performance, it would seem that the NFL got ripped off.

    And of course, the cost of the rip-off will be passed along to the consumer.

    As for the ridiculous pop interpretations of it, the singers should be reminded that it is a national anthem, not a national jamthem

  • BostonIrish

    Jon, no pass from me. This isn’t community auditions. She’s a bonafide pro. She should return the singing fee if there is one. I wasn’t even focused on hearing her sing, not really paying attention, and when I heard her flub I recognized it immediately. It’s one damn song, and a memorable one at that.

    Bring on Renee Rancourt!!!

  • FireGuyFrank

    This is why I would have pre-recorded it and sung along to it live (mic off). That way, I don’t forget the lyrics.

    And I would sing it straight — no embellishment. The tune is tough enough.

    By the way, anyone looking for an Anthem singer? I’m available.

  • blackbear1

    No pass!! And Keller, your reasons very vanilla and “soft”. Stop trying to be cuddly to all. Life is tough and we need to accept criticism. She is a highly paid performer. Sorry, very little room for error. Even if she remembered the words, her rendition was terrible. Why don’t people leave this genuine, patriotic, symbolic song alone. It borders on being disrespectful.

    By the way Keller, I do know the words and would disrupt your poll info at least by one. Rene Rancourt is not the answer. He sounds worse and worse. The fist pump won’t quite cut it.

    • BostonIrish

      BBear, Rancourt NEVER gets it wrong!

  • Cynic

    No one can sing that song. It has to be Screached….Why not dump it for “America The Beautiful” or “This Land Is my Land”.
    Probably no one remembers but there was a big stink raised when Jose’ Feleciano sang the anthem at the 1967 World Series at Fenway.
    Truthfully “The Star Spangled Banner” Hurts my ears.
    There is more to this Country than the War Of 1812.
    If I’m not mistaken Arlo Guthrie offered to sign over the Rights to his Fathers song to the US…. Maybe we should take him up on his offer.

    • blackbear1

      Cynic, What is wrong with you??

      • mikey

        Good 1.

  • mikey

    Roseanne Barr was really disgusting when she sang it off-key deliberately back in 1990 at a Padre’s game and then adjusted her whatever while spitting. Pathetic.

  • StanleyRamon

    My favorite was a Marvin Gaye version. I think it was before an NBA All Star game a while back. It’s a tough song to sing.

  • taxedout

    I bet she would not have forgotten the words to the Muslim national anthem!!!!

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