Jordin Sparks sang the Star Spangled Banner at Super Bowl XLII yesterday. Unlike most of the comments I’ve heard, I just didn’t like it.
Over the years, tens of thousands of great songs have been written and arranged and re-arranged and covered by artists from all styles and backgrounds. Many songs sound great with new arrangements. I’ve heard rock songs sound great when recorded by a country artist, and vice versa. The songs get a fresh sound, a fresh style, a fresh voice.
But the Star Spangled Banner is different. And it is so for one reason. The Star Spangled Banner is meant to be sung by all, and not just performed for an audience. You’ve got a singer (or group) leading, and the crowd is expected to also show their respect for our country and the flag by joining in; that’s why we all know the song. Think about the last few times you’ve sung it yourself. Where were you? I’ll tell you where, at a sporting event. That’s why we know it. That’s why we learn it. That’s how we do it here in the United States.
But when you sing the anthem like Sparks did, it’s impossible to sing along. Go ahead, click the image above and try to sing with her. You can’t. Her arrangement kept all fans from showing their respect. That’s wrong. That’s un-American. She might as well have sung it in Spanish.
It’s a shame. I like Sparks otherwise, and had it been any other song, fine. But don’t mess with the Star Spangled Banner.