Tyler belts out star-mangled banner

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris


The Associated Press Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler sings the national anthem before the AFC Championship NFL football game between the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots Sunday.

Boy, the AFC National Football Game Championship was quite a spectacle. Of course, I don't mean the game, but actually Steven Tyler, lead singer for Aerosmith and, of late, noted for being a judge on "American Idol," singing — or more accurately described by one commentator as "butchering" — the national anthem.

Another commentator noted that it was more obscene than Janet Jackson's famous wardrobe malfunction. I don't know why it was any surprise that Steven Tyler's version of the national anthem would leave a little bit to be desired. That's like being surprised David Hasselhoff showed up at a party drunk.

Let's face it, the national anthem is not exactly the easiest song in the world to sing. To properly sing this song, one needs to have some type operatic voice or high reaching ability like Whitney Houston before Whitney decided to marry Bobby Brown. I'm surprised now she can even speak after a few years of hard living with Bobby, but you get the picture. Having Steven Tyler sing the National Anthem is like asking George Jones to sing "Stairway to Heaven." It's like inviting Lady Gaga to sing in the church choir.

Reader poll

Help T. figure it out. Do you know what a rampart is?

  • A fighting ship designed to work as effectively on rivers as on the seas. 9%
  • An embankment of earth that encircles a castle or fort for defensive purposes. 69%
  • A safe viewing spot designated by two sides in a conflict in the 1700s for watching military battles. 9%
  • The device from which overhead volleys of explosives are launched. 13%

32 total votes.

Not only did Steven butcher the singing, but he also tripped up on a few of the words. That's understandable considering that Steven is near Social Security age and probably subject to memory lapses, even before considering the 12 tons of illegal drugs he has probably ingested over his 40-year career. But, let's be honest. He ain't exactly the only person on Earth that has trouble with the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner." I'd be willing to bet that less than 50 percent of all Americans could sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" without any words in front of them, or other prompting, and get the entire thing correct.

I'd say less than 10 percent can sing it on key.

Please understand, I revere "The Star-Spangled Banner" and always stand at attention with my hand over my heart and my hat off. But even I must admit the song is pretty doggone lofty for your average Joe. I mean come on, "... o'er the ramparts we watched"? Is there anybody in America that has a clue as to what a rampart is? The song may as well say "over the trunk of a '55 Chevy we watched" for all I know. We've become so star struck in America that we wish to ask our superstars to do anything. I believe it was Samuel Johnson who once said, "People love to watch a dog walk on his hind legs, not so much because he does it well, but because he can do it at all."

I guess we think it's great that a celebrity that can do one thing well, can do anything else at all. Why else in the world would Roseanne Barr ever have been allowed to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" years ago? I say we leave the national anthem to those who can sing. And I mean those who sing in a classical way.

I don't want to hear George Jones sing the national anthem. I don't want to hear Merle Haggard sing the national anthem. I don't want to hear Madonna sing the national anthem and I don't want to hear Peewee Herman sing the national anthem. If they can't give us a classically trained singer, then I say let them sing the national anthem like they do at most other ballparks I go to. Let the crowd bumble and stumble its way through and end it all with a big cheer.

I've had enough fiddling with, rapping with, jazzing up with, the anthem. The last time I heard anything approaching Tyler's screeching of the anthem was when a drunk buddy fell into a campfire by the creek. At least that was funny ... well, not to him, but to everyone else. In short, sing it right or don't sing it at all.

Contact columnist T. Gamble at t@colliergamble.com.


waltspecht 3 years, 10 months ago

I personally believe it should be limited to the best this Country has to offer. There should be a contract and agreement that if it is deliberately messed up, as has been done in the past in the name of Artistic Freedom, the offender should have to pay a hefty settlement.I personally believe it should be left to the best Singers the Military Chorus has to offer, rotating between the Services for major events like this. At least they know how to sing it, and will treat the opportunity with the respect it deserves. I believe had some of these fools Butchered the Song this badly in the Fifties they would have been lucky to make it out of the Stadium in one piece. In the old days, even the Players all showed respect.


Susan123 3 years, 10 months ago

I actually disagree with you. I think everyone should be entitled to sing it publicly. As long as they can get all the words right and try their best, that should be all that really matters. It takes alot of pride and courage to stand in front of hundreds, thousand, and millions of people to sing this particular song knowing that their performance will be judged by everyone. Even for Steven Tyler. Just being able to do that, in my opinion, IS showing respect for our country and the song. If someone has been requested to sing the national anthem and they have pride in our great country, then I don't see any reason why they should decline if they don't want to. The coordinators of the event knew what his musical style was when they asked him to perform, so if anyone is to blame, it should be them. But, once again, I don't think anyone is at fault, I didn't think his performance was all that bad.


Susan123 3 years, 10 months ago

I, personally, didn't find anything wrong with Steven Tyler's rendition of the National Anthem. I was actually quite surprised that he did as well as he did. I mean, I could understand almost every word he said, and I really only heard him "scream" twice, which is what surprised me, considering that this was Steven Tyler singing. He's not, by no means, the best I've heard. But I have heard much worse renditions recently. What exactly did everyone expect Steven Tyler to sound like? Taylor Swift??


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