Embarrassing National Anthem Fails

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2014

Embarrassing National Anthem Fails

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    Assuming you've never met me, I must say that I sing one incredible version of "The Star Spangled Banner"—especially when intoxicated—don't ask me why.

    And while it can be easy to remember all the words with just a few friends around me, I'm not so sure I'd fair as well with a stadium packed full of people—though I'd love the opportunity to try some time.

    Since I think the singing of a national anthem before a game is still one of the best traditions in sports, I figured I'd give all those future singers a guide as to what not to do—like making the same mistakes as any of these people who really failed at it.

Honorable Mention: Maya Rudolph

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    Is this performance real? No.

    Still, former Saturday Night Live cast member Maya Rudolph's rendition of the anthem is about as spot on a performance as any of these other ones you'll see.

    Rudolph plays up to the role of singer quite well.

Christina Aguilera

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    While I'm not a personal fan—although "Genie In A Bottle" does remind me of my middle school days—Christina Aguilera has definitely proved to be capable of belting out some serious notes.

    And while she did that beautifully during her national anthem performance before the Super Bowl in 2011, she seemed to forget one major component—the words!

    Oh well, at least she tried to explain herself afterwards.

Desiree Coleman Jackson

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    Here's a quick word to the wise—never hire the coach's wife to sine the national anthem.

    In this case, the Golden State Warriors decided against that theory, allowing head coach Mark Jackson's wife Desiree to try her lungs at it.

    While the performance doesn't start terribly, the ending is just awful, with the singer extending the final note so long that the PA announcer actually thanks her before she's even done.

    For the players, cracking a smile wouldn't be wise—unless, of course, they want to spend some time on the bench next to coach.

Measha Brueggergosman

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    As I mentioned in the previous slide about Golden State players holding back smirks while their coach's wife sang the anthem, the Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins just couldn't help themselves before a game a couple seasons ago.

    Seriously, while I can appreciate the talent that singer Measha Brueggergosman has, I couldn't make out a damn word coming out of her mouth—and, making it worse, she had the duty of singing both national anthems of Canada and the United States.

    I just hope no one's ears bled.

Victoria Zarlenga

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    Wait, Victoria Zarlenga actually gets paid to sing for a living, right?

    Good lord, no one could have convinced me of that after hearing her interesting take on the national anthem before a United States-Scotland men's soccer match in 2012.

    The reactions of the players and the grumbling in the crowd should tell us all just how miserable Victoria sounded in that stadium.

R. Kelly

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    I'm all about bringing a little soul into the national anthem, but R. Kelly's performance before the rematch between boxers Bernard Hopkins and Jermaine Taylor is just a bit much.

    The cheesy music makes it sound like a promotional ad for a kid to learn how to sing, and when you realize there's a couple dancing inside of the ring to it, it's really embarrassing.

    After seeing this, maybe it is time to consider changing the national anthem to Kelly's "Ignition (Remix)," because it has to be better than his try at the real one.

Kat Deluna

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    At first, while listening to "rising singer" Kat Deluna's performance of the national anthem, you might find yourself struggling with why I included it.

    As the song continues, though, it becomes clear that Deluna was trying way too hard.

    Getting the nod to sing before a Monday night game in 2008, the Dominican singer never seemed to recover from this blunder, as she strains to hit the notes, semi-forgets the lyrics and pukes out the last note.

    Naturally, the boos flowed from the crowd—and that's the last anyone has heard of Kat Deluna.

Keri Hilson

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    R&B singer Keri Hilson is usually a perfect blend of talent and sex appeal, as she has proved to have quite the pipes for singing.

    But on a night back in 2010 before a game between the Atlanta Hawks and L.A. Lakers, Miss Keri would have been better off just strutting her stuff and looking good, because she definitely didn't sound great.

    That's because the singer forgot the words and repeated herself, which I'm sure threw her off her game.

Luke Bryan

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    As a guy whose family lives in Nashville, I know that country stars are all the rage around town.

    And even though it's not as if country music is new, the local folks are always proud to see one of their own get to display their talent on the national stage.


    That's what a lot of country fans were thinking after seeing singer Luke Bryan flub up the anthem before the 2010 MLB All-Star Game, having to rely on his hand to remember the words—for which he apologized.

    Hey, if it works for middle school kids on their quizzes, why can't it work for country stars too?

High School Football Singer Gets Sacked

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    A major problem in elementary schools these days is funding for music programs.

    If ever there were a test case as to why a school district should really invest in one, this performance at a high school football game should be it—because this is freakin' miserable.

    When fans from the stands give the sympathy cheer, hoping to give the singer enough confidence to make it through the song without completely humiliating themselves, you know it's bad.

Harper Gruzins

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    I plead for you to not hate the messenger with this submission, because poking fun at an 11-year-old girl is sort of pathetic on my part.

    But after you hear "aspiring singer" Harper Gruzins' performance from an MLS game in 2012, you'll have the same feeling as me—which is utter embarrassment.

    Sounding like a girl screaming a Beyonce song in the shower, Harper just can't seem to cut it, which should make everyone feel for her.

    For anyone looking forward to being a parent, I'd imagine this is what a temper tantrum sounds like—except, it's in the form of a song.

Who Pulled the Plug?

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    Would it kill this high school to invest in a good sound system?

    That may have been all it took to save themselves from ending up on my list, because the song itself actually didn't sound too terrible.

    Unfortunately, once the speakers made it sound like a skipping CD—having their own Milli Vanilli moment—the whole thing went to hell.

    On a positive note, at least the entire gym showed its patriotism by completing the song together.

Natalie Gilbert

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    It's one of the most famous national anthem fail moments to ever happen.

    Not only was 13-year-old Natalie Gilbert fighting the flu when she performed the national anthem in front of a packed house before a Portland Trail Blazers game in 2003, but she then forgot the words.

    Seeing that she was struggling to maintain her composure, then-Blazers head coach Maurice Cheeks swooped in as if Natalie was his own daughter, giving the girl another voice to complete the song.

    Sure, it was a touching moment. But it still was one of the biggest fails, too.

Caroline Marcil

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    Sometimes, it's just best to quit.

    And for all those who enjoy awkward moments, seeing Caroline Marcil try to sing the national anthem prior to an exhibition hockey game between the U.S. and Canada will make your day.

    Forgetting the lyrics, restarting the song, walking off and then slipping on the ice when she gets the courage to try one last time is like watching someone walk into the lion's den.

Cuba Gooding Sr.

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    Cuba Gooding Sr. might be the lead singer of R&B group, The Main Ingredient, but he showed that he was missing part of the recipe during this national anthem performance.

    Some of the things coming out of dude's mouth make you wonder if he was on something or just didn't know the words.

    But, hey, like he once said, "Everybody Plays the Fool."

Michael Bolton

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    Shame on Michael Bolton for reading the lyrics of the national anthem off of his hand.

    After working so hard to go from a long-haired, early-90s singer, to a dude who showed some wit and humor with the band The Lonely Island, Bolton fell on hard times during this 2003 performance.

    The cheat sheet on his hand was bad, but can we do something about that echo coming from the speakers that had to have played a part in him forgetting where he was in the song.

Eli Young Band

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    As the fans recording the song asked, maybe the Eli Young Band were still drunk from the night prior?

    I'm not sure there's any other reason the lead singer would not only forget the lyrics, but then abruptly stop and start the song over.

    Here's a quick piece of advice—when you're looking to sell albums, don't do something like this.

Roseanne Barr

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    I don't want to sound like an old-fashioned, All-American patriot here, but watching Roseanne Barr sing the national anthem is a bit disrespectful, don't you think?

    Rushing through the song, obnoxiously yelling at the top of her lungs and then embracing the boos by waving to the crowd once she was finally done, the bar—no pun intended—was set pretty low with this performance.

Carl Lewis

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    That's all anyone should get when hearing former Olympian Carl Lewis' "rendition" of the anthem prior to a 1993 game between the New Jersey Nets and the Chicago Bulls.

    With his voice cracking as he struggled to hit notes, Lewis not only stopped mid-song to apologize with a witty, "I'll make up for it, now," to try and get the fans back on his side. But he had both benches either laughing or praying that the song would come to an end.

    Not even former ESPN anchor Charley Steiner could keep it together when reporting about it.

Alexis Normand

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    Alas, we've reached the top—or in Alexis Normand's case, the very bottom.

    Inserting hums to cover up the fact she didn't know the words to the national anthem, Alexis does her best to do what she can to just make it through the song.

    As the reporting anchor says, the girl was from Canada, so we should all give her a break.

    Still, it poses one question—why in the hell couldn't they get one of the 300 million U.S. residents to come sing?