The Star Spangled Banner has been a sacred piece of music since it was penned by Francis Scott Key in 1814 during the British attack on Baltimore’s Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. Seeing the flag still standing after it had been battered with shells and ammunition, Key was inspired to write a national anthem that has stood the test of time and is arguably the most influential song we have as Americans. Unfortunately for Francis Scott Key, along with the incredible and awe inspiring performances of the song through the years, there have been some major flops that were just downright brutal to listen to. Among the crowd of terrible renditions, here are some of the worst ones of all time.
Carl Lewis is one of the best track and field Olympians of all time if not the best. During the 1993 NBA Finals however, Lewis gave us one of his most memorable performances that he would like us all to quickly forget. Starting out with a long winded and overly drawn out opening line, things only got worse from there. Losing the crowd when his voice cracked on “rocket’s red glare,” he exclaimed the now infamous “uh oh! I’ll make up for it now.” Unfortunately, he failed in that endeavor.
One of the most gifted singers of this generation has been Christina Aguilera with an ability to hit notes that most of us could only dream of. During the Super Bowl in 2011 however, she confused the words during the Star Spangled Banner, forever enshrining her on the national anthem wall of shame. Botching the final note was the icing on the cake of mediocrity in this unforgettable performance.
R&B singer R. Kelly had a performance for the ages when he tried to channel a very soulful rendition of the national anthem that fell flat. From the use of step dancers to an unnecessary music remix, this goes down as one of the biggest disgraces to this historic song.
Of all these terrible renditions, none of them can ever hold a candle to the absolute train-wreck that was Roseanne Barr. In 1990 at a San Diego Padres game, Barr screamed and shouted her way through the national anthem to a chorus of boos from the crowd. Completing the butchering with a graceful spit on the mound, Barr takes the cake in the world of awful national anthem renditions.
Fortunately for all of us, there have been some truly inspiring renditions that can help dull the pain of these horrible versions.