clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

When They Ask You To Sing the National Anthem

After 3 games of the World Series we have been treated to 1 decent version of the American National Anthem (Tex-Mex rockers Los Lonely Boys) and 2 lousy versions. So I figured maybe, before one of us is asked to sing it, we should go over some ground rules. Now you may think the odds of one us being ask to sing it are slim, but then they asked the Back Street Boys, so they could ask any of us.

That must have been an interesting conversation when they talked to the Boys' manager. 'We'd like the Back Street Boys to sing the National Anthem at game one of the World Series.' 'Really?' 'Yeah.' 'Who is this really? Am I one one of those practical joke TV shows?' 'No, no we really want them.' 'You do understand they can't really sing, right?' And on like that for another 15 minutes, until it comes out that Bud Selig is a big fan and has a crush on one of them, let's say Tyler, there is a Tyler in all those groups right? But I digress.....

When you are to sing the National Anthem:

  • Make sure you know the words. This sounds obvious but in front of all those people possibly (probably?) booing, cameras on you and then hearing your voice come back to you from the speakers a few seconds later (trust me, that's distracting) if you don't know the words forwards and backwards, something bad will happen.
  • Don't try to be funny. Yes you and your friends think it is funny that to turn it into a song about a Mexican guy (Jose can you see) or to, you know, grab your crotch and spit, but odds are others won't get it and/or won't find it funny.
  • Don't mess with the arrangement. Don't update it, don't try to jazz it up make it more R&B or anything. People want it to sound like the National Anthem. Don't add words or, for that matter, echo words to add emphasis. Now I know it is a tough thing to sing, must of us don't have the range. I mean the thing was based on an old Welsh drinking song and no one can sing like a drunk Welshman. But that doesn't mean you should change the arrangement to take out the high and low parts to fit your vocal range (Back Street Boys, Taylor Swift). Now a good idea is to pass the lead vocal to back and forth between singers with different vocal ranges (Los Lonely Boys).
  • Unless you are a very good instrumentalist don't play play your instrument and sing at the same time (Taylor Swift). Have someone else play guitar for you. If you need the guitar in your hand to sing, just pretend to play or don't plug your guitar in. I mean there are 1352 guitar pickers in Nashville alone. And all of them are better than me. And I'm, apparently, better than Taylor Swift, so, you know, hire one of them.
  • Don't sing too slow. Yes I know your manager has told you how much advertising time on the Super Bowl is worth and yeah the cameras are pointed at you. But let's try to get thru the bloody thing in, you know, a reasonable amount of time. The advertising value is lost if people turn you off before the "Rocket's Red Glare".
  • Maybe say no, if you can't do the job well. Remember it is better to be thought a crappy singer than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

Yeah I know it's not my National Anthem and it shouldn't bug me, but the thing is sung, well 81 times a year at each team's park and generally it's done quite well, but the World Series comes along and they have to get somebody 'famous' to sing it. And most of the points can apply to the Oh Canada too. Other than a normal person can sing Oh Canada.

Update Update.......

Patti LaBelle broke the don't try to jazz it up and don't echo words rules and she sang it way too slow as well. She also brings up another rule....No Vocal Gymnastics....people are or should be trying to sing along. Who could have sung along with that? Man she was awful, and I kind of like her too.