Was Fergie’s National Anthem Really the Worst of All-Time?

by Taylor Smith
on February 21, 2018

The American national anthem has been in the news an awful lot over the last several months. For once, however, the debate regarding the Star Spangled Banner has nothing to do with the NFL or politicians. This latest uproar is all about Fergie, formerly of the Black Eyed Peas, absolutely butchering the anthem during her pregame performance at the NBA All Star Game in L.A. last weekend.

The backlash even led to an immediate response from the singer herself. In a statement, Fergie said, “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.”

It’s nice that she tried her darnedest and all, but frankly, this thing was an absolute trainwreck. Was it the worst of all-time? Let’s break it down.

If Not the Worst, It’s Up There

From the jump you could tell that this rendition had the potential to go off the rails. Fergie started things off at an incredibly slow pace, and the addition of some percussion and a sultry bass line was unexpected and weird. Things got a little rough by the time she got to the “dawn’s early light” part of the proceedings.

The first visual reaction we see to what Fergie is doing is a close-up of Steph Curry, who can clearly already tell that the anthem isn’t going particularly well. He looks downright dumbfounded.

Things just got worse from there. As she continued to pitchily screech her way through it, the shots of people like Jimmy Kimmel and Draymond Green said it all.
Draymond Green Reacting to Fergie Singing
While Fergie’s rendition left plenty to be desired, perhaps folks calling it the worst ever are prisoners of the moment. There are a number of other worthy candidates, and we would be remiss if we didn’t kick things off with Roseanne Barr.

Remember Roseanne?

Roseanne Barr is a comedian whose heyday came in the early 1990s with her self-titled sitcom, “Roseanne.” The show is about to make a comeback, so hopefully the memory of her own awful anthem performance will resurface, as well.

Barr was tasked to sing the anthem prior to a game in San Diego between the Padres and Cincinnati Reds back in July of 1990. Here it is, if you want to subject your ears to such things:

Roseanne is a comedian, and she sang like a comedian. Clearly not taking it too seriously, she even seemed to embrace the raucous boos raining down on her from the crowd. Padres fans have had plenty to boo over the years, but it’s safe to say that nothing the inept baseball team has ever done has deserved jeers as hearty as these.

Roseanne was a huge star at the time, and the middling Padres were struggling to get butts in the seats. The team’s owner at the time was Tom Werner, who just happened to be an executive producer on “Roseanne.”  So, what better way to draw fans to the ballgame than by offering them the chance at a celebrity sighting? Based on the crowd’s proper reaction, it seems as though many regretted the decision to pay for tickets to see…whatever that was.

Michael Bolton Forgot the Lyrics

My only exposure to Michael Bolton has come from a certain Lonely Island classic as well as the character that boasts the same unfortunate name in the movie Office Space. I know he’s a singer, and that’s about it.

Anyway, the Connecticut native was asked to sing the anthem prior to a Boston Red Sox playoff game against the rival New York Yankees back in 2003. Bolton’s clearly got the pipes to sing the song, unlike some of the others appearing on this list.

However, he had a rather unfortunate slip-up. Aside from the weird echo in the stadium that made the song sound garbled and nearly unintelligible, Bolton’s mind seemingly went blank about halfway through the song.

Fortunately, it seemed as though he foresaw this problem. Bolton raised his hand to the mic and was clearly reading off of his own palm in order to jog his memory once he fell silent. Jotting down the lyrics on your own hand is masterfully crafty, indeed. Some fans noticed and booed, but Bolton managed to stumble his way through the rest of the song relatively incident-free.

…So Did Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera has a wonderful voice, and she clearly likes to make the most of it. If you had a voice like that, you probably would, too. Still, it can be rather overwhelming at times, and she obviously likes to ham it up quite a bit.

Her over-the-top style was on display in 2011 when she sang the Star Spangled Banner on just about the biggest stage possible. Aguilera was on the stage prior to Super Bowl XLV between the Packers and Steelers in Arlington when she jumbled the lyrics and sang the song out of order. Whoops!

Carl Lewis is King

Fergie and Roseanne were awful, while Bolton and Aguilera made some easy mistakes. However, nobody can save Carl Lewis, the American track and field legend who took home a whopping 9 Olympic gold medals during his decorated career.

While Lewis is a massive figure in American Olympic lore, he’s unfortunately also known because of his cringeworthy rendition of the anthem prior to a game during the 1993 NBA Finals. Lewis claims he wasn’t feeling too particularly well that day, which is fair enough.

Still, whatever illness he was feeling contributed to arguably the worst public rendition of the anthem we’ve ever heard.

The best part is when he interrupts the song to say, “Uh oh! I’ll make up for it now!” before proceeding to absolutely butcher the rest of the song. This was the stuff of legends, and Carl Lewis is still on top of the list of worst anthem singers of all-time. You’re off the hook for now, Fergie.

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