Our national anthem has taken some shots during the past year or two.
It may have taken its strangest and toughest hit this past weekend.
Someone apparently said — out loud and in front of people — “Hey. Let’s let Fergie sing the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ at the 2018 NBA All-Star Game.”
And the other people in the room … agreed.
Singer, songwriter and former member of The Black-Eyed Peas, Fergie has a pretty solid musical pedigree. She starred in the TV show “Kids Incorporated.” She has won multiple Grammys and American Music awards, as well as two MTV Russia Music Awards, and don’t forget her three Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award wins.
So, she’s got the chops.
Fergie stood in front of the NBA All-Star teams at center court in the packed Staples Center in Los Angeles and performed what People magazine described as “a slowed-down jazzy rendition of the national anthem.”
Now, People magazine is known for being kind to celebrities.
This is the same magazine that claimed Blake Shelton was “The Sexiest Man Alive” in 2017. Shelton without his mullet is not sexy.
A more accurate description is to say Fergie, the two-time Channel [V] Thailand Music Video Award winner, was trying to embody Billie Holiday, Marilyn Monroe and Jessica Rabbit … at the same time.
There are contestants on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” who couldn’t pull that off. And those ladies can “Shantay, You Stay.”
Everyone in attendance was being polite until the camera locked on Golden State Warrior Draymond Green, a tough guy to rattle, he started laughing. Seeing Green on the Jumbotron, the paying crowd burst into a cathartic belly laugh.
To be fair, Fergie got all the words correct. It is a notoriously tough song to remember while 70,000 people are watching.
When I say “all the words correct” I am allowing for the “slurred” words that Fergie seemed to just stop singing mid-word. But anyone who has started a 10 a.m. tailgate party at NRG Stadium before a 7 p.m. Houston Texans’ game has heard plenty of slurred versions of the national anthem.
Fergie, former member of the Billboard Music Award “watching” girl group Wild Orchid, has since apologized for her performance.
“I’m a risk taker artistically,” the IFPI Hong Kong Top Sales Music Awards winner said in a statement. “But clearly this rendition didn’t strike the intended tone. I love this country and honestly tried my best.”
The creator of the MuchMusic Video Award winning song “Fergalicious” loves America so much she decided to turn the national anthem into a song we’d hear in a “Fifty Shades” movie.
Fergie should not have apologized. She took a shot and threw an air ball.
Butchering the national anthem is as American as apple pie. Just ask comedian Roseanne Barr, Olympian Carl Lewis, Otis Redding impersonator Michael Bolton and crooner Robert Goulet, who made “The Star-Spangled Banner” take a dive at the second Muhammad Ali-Sonny Liston fight in 1965. Goulet!
Can we stop putting unprepared celebrities or pop singers in the national anthem pressure cooker to be roasted on social media and by tone-deaf newspaper columnists, who “sing” every time Heart or Pat Benatar is on the car radio?
We already have a recording of the best version of the national anthem ever performed. It’s Marvin Gaye’s rendition at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game.
Let’s play that at every sporting event.
That would be some true ... healing.