Keller: Fergie’s National Anthem Performance Was Far From The Worst

BOSTON (CBS) – How bad was singer Fergie’s rendition of the National Anthem at Sunday night’s NBA All-Star Game?

So bad that even Roseanne Barr, who appalled all Americans with her shrieking version before a 1990 baseball game (followed by the super-classy touches of grabbing her crotch and spitting), tweeted that “mine was better.”

No, it wasn’t, but that’s not saying much. Fergie slurred words, stretched the song out endlessly, and chose a completely inappropriate delivery reminiscent of Eartha Kitt’s vampy 1953 hit “Santa Baby,” not exactly fitting for a song about a deadly battle. (Charles Barkley had the best line on TNT, remarking that he “needed a cigarette” after the performance.)

But Fergie’s sour notes were far from the worst we’ve ever suffered through.

There was Olympian Carl Lewis at the 1993 NBA Finals, so unable to reach the high notes that he stopped and said “uh-oh” after one wretched effort. Aerosmith’s Stevie Tyler has butchered “The Star Spangled Banner” on more than one occasion.

And when stars spend more time working on their posturing then they do learning the lyrics, it’s a problem. As if the 2003 American League Championship Series wasn’t torture enough for Red Sox fans, we had to listen to Michael Bolton forgetting the words halfway through (and getting a cue by peeking at his palm, a move that got him roundly booed by the crowd).

But you don’t have to be Marvin Gaye or Smokey Robinson to nail the anthem, although it helps. There are numerous instances of very young children nailing the song at ballgames. And who can ever forget the chills and tears when Rene Rancourt stopped singing and turned it over to Bruins fans at the first home game after the Marathon bombings.

So while it’s a nice tradition to give others a chance to sing the anthem once in awhile, let’s face it, most events would be better off just running the tape of the greatest version of the anthem ever recorded: the late Whitney Houston, thrilling the nation with her performance at the 1991 Super Bowl.

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