I just don’t get it. First of all I don’t get why Roseanne Barr or Steven Tyler would be invited to sing the national anthem at a game. Roseanne is a comedienne, not known to be a great singer. Steven Tyler is one of our rock heroes, and we are enjoying him on American Idol, but he is not a crooner, he is a wailer. His raspy scream-y delivery is his trademark.
Second of all, once you do invite someone like Roseanne or Steven to sing, I can’t understand how you will be surprised at what you get. It is easier to understand how those who hire national anthem singers would be disappointed when a singer with a more lyrical bent forgets the words to the national anthem, as has occurred recently, or has some other kind of melt down. These singers were forgiven, but people still go on and on discussing Roseanne and I assume they will continue to debate Steven Tyler’s performance for decades to come. I just do not get why someone could choose these two to sing and not understand what they would be hearing.
Third of all, The Star Spangled Banner is hard to sing. There are notes many of us cannot hit. If you are going to pick someone to sing for us then pick someoone who has enough range to hit all of the notes beautifully.
Actually, I think our reactions have more to do with how we view the national anthem. Is it a “sacred” song that needs to be delivered with a certain reverence and melodic consistency? Can we treat the national anthem as a theme to be interpreted artistically as it was by Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock? Apparently, as with everything else in America, we are about equally divided between these two approaches to our national song. I suppose those who hire these singers feel that they are conferring an honor on those chosen, while at the same time they are hiring someone famous who will attract attendees to their event. However, I suggest that if you are of the persuasion that the national anthem should be delivered with a certain “gravitas” then you need to choose singers who offer that kind of delivery. I don’t believe either Roseanne or Steven was mocking the national anthem. They each delivered a performance that was in line with their public persona. It looks like we please more Americans by treating the national anthem as a straightforward anthem than by treating it as an art form.