Even if you love this country — and boy do we love this country! — there are times it makes you question your long-term commitment.
When some crazy asshole shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and took out five of her constituents at a Safeway in Tucson, we wondered what had become of the country we loved. When the police beat the snot out of a homeless man in Fullerton, we shook our heads in horror. And when LMFAO began topping the charts, well, we really started to wonder what we were doing here.
But there's nothing that makes us weigh renouncing our American citizenship quite so quickly as a badly botched National Anthem. Here are the five most cringe-inducing.
5. Michael Bolton
Bolton really has no excuse: Dude is a singer, and, we must grudgingly admit, a good one — even if we'd rather catch diptheria than hear “Said I Loved You … But I Lied” one more fucking time.
So that's why this is so maddening. Scribbling the lyrics on your hand is something akin to cheating on a test. If he was so worried he was going to forget the words, why not just prepare?
4. Christina Aguilera
Oh, Xtina. You used to be such a good singer! And then you got all I'm-too-sexy and I'm-too-operatic and forgot all about the damned ramparts.
Witness this video from the 2011 Super Bowl, which can't be embedded but shows how we might like to put this genie back in the bottle. Between the over-the-top vibrato that she's spent the last five years indulging in, her more recent refusal to wear pants, and the screwed-up lyric, Christina Aguilera really has become a bonafide American shitshow. It's hard to imagine anything north of the border matching this tastelessness.
3. Rosanne Barr
Duh, you knew this one was coming.
But upon watching it again, we have to admit, we were somewhat surprised by its charm: Yes, Roseanne Barr is off-key, and she buries the song's dramatic moments in a race to the finish. But her cheerful lack of pretension is a nice tonic after watching Michael Bolton and Christina Aguilera oversell it. Or at least we felt that way before the spitting at the end. At that point, we joined the haters.
2. Carl Lewis
Oh, this is bad. In fact, at one point during this tortured rendition of the National Anthem, Olympic Gold medalist/non-singer Carl Lewis realizes that he's flailing, to the point that he promises, “I'll make up for it now.” He never does.
In fact, this one is so bad that it's hard to imagine how he could.
1. The Fray
Who are The Fray, you ask? Apparently, per the announcer who kicks off this video, a “Grammy nominated and internationally acclaimed world-touring band.” If you like a little less bloviating and a bit more info, it turns out they're a “piano rock band” from Denver, responsible for that little ditty about “How to Save a Life” that you will NEVER GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD NOW THAT WE BROUGHT IT UP AGAIN (you're welcome). Other than being about as white as it gets, they seem OK enough.
So why was their performance at this year's NCAA basketball tournament so godawful? You could argue that they're a piano rock band peforming without a piano — always tricky stuff. Or that their drummer has been saddled with an instrument right out of the “Little Drummer Boy.” Not cool.
Ultimately, though, the problem is mostly that they're trying to put a hipster spin on a song about the bombardment of a fort in the War of 1812 — material that defies hipsters and spin in equal measure.
Listen, weep and start packing for Montreal.