Fergie's Star Spangled Banner

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I’m no singer. Believe me, I tried really hard to live out my child hood dream of becoming a pop star, even going as far as taking singing lessons for a few months. It turned out I’m terrible and had no business attempting to be the next Avril Lavigne. Despite my—as my singing instructor put it—unique voice, I sure can tell when someone botches the National Anthem.

We’ve all witnessed an amateur attempt of The National Anthem at our eight-year old cousins YMCA basketball game. But one place where you would not expect something so patriotichally sacred to go south is at a professional sporting event on live television. Yet this is exactly what happened this past Sunday at the NBA All-Star game.

Our beloved Fergie from the once so popular Black Eyed Peas gave a sultry, riff filled rendition of The Star Spangled Banner and people were not impressed. You can watch the full clip here and catch Draymond green and Jimmy Kimmel try to conceal their laughter. Fergie apologized today stating, “I’ve always been honored and proud to perform the national anthem, and last night, I wanted to try something special for the NBA. I’m a risk taker artistically, but clearly this rendition didn’t strike the intended tone. I love this country and honestly tried my best.”

We forgive you Fergie. We also can’t forget she’s not the only one to have a tough go at the emotionally hefty song. Keri Hilson omitted an entire line in 2009, Christina Agulera repeated an entire stanza at the Super Bowl and Cyndi Lauper said “streaming” instead of “gleaming” at a 9/11 memorial.

Those graced with the honor of singing our national anthem have it tough. This article published by the Smithsonian goes into detail about how difficult the wide range is to hit. On top of how musically challenging it is, there must be a lot of pressure to carry the weight of our nation for a couple minutes in front on millions.

Here at the University of Oregon, the song Shout by Otis Day and the Knights is almost as important as the National Anthem. It was used in 1978 the film Animal House, filmed right here on campus. The song is played at every sporting event in the third quarter with the intention of giving the crowd and the team a second win to finish out the game strong. You can imagine the students’ excitement when Otis Day, himself, joined us at a basketball halftime to sing it live. Evidently, he botched his own song almost as tragically as Fergie.

But we forgave him and applauded as he left the court. There is a certain amount of pity allotted by the crowd when something so sacred goes south. We automatically feel bad and approach these failures with a “brush it off, champ!” mentality. It must be the good sportsmanship in all of us. Fergie’s apology was sincere and helped us level with her even more, because come on… it’s not like me or you could do any better!

sophia cleugh