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Worst Celebrity Renditions of the National Anthem

Misc | By The Top 13 on February 7, 2011

Last month, pop singer Keri Hilson joined the long list of celebrities who have sang the national anthem at sporting events with disastrous results. Her performance reminded us of two of our favorite fictional renditions of the "Star-Spangled Banner" - Frank Drebin as Enrico Pallazzo in The Naked Gun and Maya Rudolph as contest winner Pamela Bell on Saturday Night Live. While parodies, those two scenes feature just about everything wrong with the performances you'll find ranked below in our Top 13 Worst Celebrity Renditions of the National Anthem. Editor's note: This list was originally published on April 19, 2010. So where would Christina Aguilera's performance at the 2011 Super Bowl rank?

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Carl Lewis

1

Carl Lewis

January 21, 1993

We almost feel like we're piling on to one of the greatest American Olympians of all-time ranking Lewis first here - less than a month after he topped our list of the Worst Songs by Professional Athletes. Alas, this nine-time gold medalist left us no choice with his abominable rendition of the "Star-Spangled Banner" before the hometown Nets were blown out by the Michael Jordan-led Bulls. Sadly, we could only find a short clip of the performance, but it's really more than enough. Watch Lewis' voice crack repeatedly and then as he promises mid-song "to make up for it."

Rosanne Barr

2

Rosanne Barr

July 25, 1990

Barr easily would have ranked first on this Top 13 if her appalling rendition of the national anthem wasn't at least somewhat premeditated. Still, her shrieking performance was offensive enough to warrant the second spot. After finishing the song to a cascade of boos from the Padres faithful, Barr (in a misguided attempt to mimic baseball players) grabbed her crotch and spit. President George H.W. Bush called Barr's performance "a disgrace." At least the Padres gave their fans something to cheer about, dispatching the Reds, 10-4.

Steven Tyler

3

Steven Tyler

May 27, 2001

There were a number of problems with legendary Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler's performance of the "Star-Spangled Banner" prior to the 2001 Indianapolis 500. The high energy rock frontman began with a bizarre harmonica solo and then struggled to hit the high notes throughout. But it's his fateful decision to change the treasured song's lyrics in a misguided attempt to connect with the massive crowd at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that really stands out. After taking flak from veterans, Tyler apologized the following day.

Michael Bolton

4

Michael Bolton

October 13, 2003

Michael Bolton might be one of the most successful balladeers of all time, having released eight top ten albums and repeatedly touring the world over. But at Fenway Park for Game 4 of the 2003 American League Championship Series between the Red Sox and the Yankees, Bolton's shocking rendition of the national anthem was the game's first error. His woeful performance takes a horrific turn for the worse about 45 seconds in when he simply can't recall what the ramparts were doing while we watched.

R. Kelly

5

R. Kelly

July 16, 2005

We can't blame R&B kingpin R. Kelly for trying to do something memorable when he performed the national anthem in the ring before the middleweight championship fight between Bernard Hopkins and Jermain Taylor at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It worked for Marvin Gaye, whose 1983 NBA All-Star Game performance has been widely praised. But Kelly's funkafied version - replete with a disco break, the singer imploring members of the crowd to clap their hands, and flourishes galore - simply went too far.

Cuba Gooding Sr.

6

Cuba Gooding Sr.

March 1, 2008

Though he's best known as the father of the Academy Award winning actor bearing his name, Gooding was also the lead singer of moderately successful 1960-1970s soul group The Main Ingredient. Despite five decades in the music business, his performance prior to the finals of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament (in which historically black colleges and universities compete) was shockingly bad. Not only did Gooding make a mockery of the high notes, but he also butchered the lyrics on several occasions.

Kat DeLuna

7

Kat DeLuna

September 15, 2008

Introduced as a "20-year-old pop sensation" by the public address announcer before the start of this Monday Night Football matchup between the Cowboys and the Eagles, DeLuna's performance was filled with so many unnecessary flourishes and embellishments - not to mention overwrought voguing and hand motions – that the Cowboy faithful let this Bronx-born Latin Billboard Award winner have it when she finally finished the song's last endless note. Thankfully, Dallas fans were given something to cheer about when the home team won in an epic shootout.

Stevie Ray Vaughan

8

Stevie Ray Vaughan

April 9, 1985

One of the greatest blues rock guitarists of all time, Vaughan was also known for his crippling drug and alcohol addictions. His guitar-only performance of the "Star-Spangled Banner" at the Houston Astros home opener in 1985 came when his abuse was rumored to be at its worst - and it showed. Vaughan, who died in a 1990 helicopter crash, sounded like he was playing the song for the very first time as he warbled through it, missing notes and playing others that simply didn't belong. Fast forward to about 1:10 for the start of his performance.

Caroline Marcil

9

Caroline Marcil

April 22, 2005

This little known French Canadian singer was tasked with singing the national anthems of both the United States and Canada at this 2005 exhibition in Quebec City between the U.S. and Canadian hockey teams. Unfortunately, she got through neither after repeatedly flubbing the words to the "Star-Spangled Banner" and then slipping on the ice before scurrying off the ice for good. Marcil, who would rank higher on this list if she was more famous, later appeared on ABC's Good Morning America, performing a flawless rendition of the song.

Keri Hilson

10

Keri Hilson

March 31, 2010

Hilson's downfall during this performance before an NBA game last month was her inability to remember the lyrics to perhaps the country's most ubiquitous song. Famous for writing hit songs for artists like Britney Spears and Usher, as well as her own chart-topping album last year, Hilson shot an airball when she lost her place, sounding something like a broken record. Still, we give her credit for not getting frazzled and for finishing the anthem like a professional. Plus, the rest of the night went well for the home fans, as the Hawks routed the Lakers at Philips Arena.

Patti LaBelle

11

Patti LaBelle

October 26, 2008

This legendary R&B and soul singer-songwriter's performance was criticized not only because she botched the lyrics, but also because of her misguided attempt to put her own stamp on the anthem. Philadelphia native LaBelle is a two-time Grammy Award winner known for her wide vocal range; nevertheless, she missed as many notes as she added flourishes to the song's standard arrangement. She also killed the lyrics, singing about the "skylight's last gleaming" and "the perilous flight." Fortunately, for the fans at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies went on two win Game 4 of the World Series, 10-2.

Scott Stapp

12

Scott Stapp

November 20, 2005

Stapp, the lead singer of the much-maligned band Creed, gave this painfully drawn-out performance of the national anthem before a hometown crowd at the 2005 NASCAR Ford 400 in Homestead, Florida. His slow, growling interpretation of the anthem underscored the longstanding criticism of Stapp - that he's a cheap Eddie Vedder rip-off. Earlier this month, Stapp did it again, performing a similarly excruciating rendition of the "Star-Spangled Banner" at the Florida Marlins home opener at Sun Life Stadium.

Aaron Neville & Aretha Franklin

13

Aaron Neville & Aretha Franklin

February 5, 2006

We certainly don't blame the NFL for having Neville perform as part of a tribute to New Orleans following the destruction of his home there during Hurricane Katrina. But his voice - while never one of our favorites - sounded terribly tired and strained during this rendition of the "Star-Spangled Banner" (his second Super Bowl performance of the anthem) at Ford Field in Detroit, particularly next to Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. To make matters worse, the game that followed - with the Steelers defeating the Seahawks 21-10 - was among the more pedestrian Super Bowls in recent memory.

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Comments Leave a comment

blix 

die, scott stapp

9:51 AM   Apr 19, 2010

stillathreat ★★

Someone needs to take the mic away from Carl Lewis. Also, Steven Tyler's performance is atrocious in so many ways. Didn't Britney Spears kill the national anthem a couple times?

10:35 AM   Apr 19, 2010

jason ★★

Hey everybody! It's Enrico Pallazzo!

2:49 PM   Apr 19, 2010

JR_Dill 

I think it would be fair to have the full story of SRV's performance. It actually plays a huge part of the history of his infamous "Lenny" guitar. One the way to the Astrodome Stevie tells his wife that he doesn't know the National Anthem. Not that he can't remember it, but he had never heard it in its entirety or even knew the lyrics. So his wife, Lenny, Hummed the song to him and off of that humming he played the National Anthem. Also, though we will never know, it is highly unlikely that he was high or intoxicated while performing. He always claimed this was one of the most nerve wrecking performances of his career. It also led to him having the back of his guitar signed by Mickey Mantle.

10:43 AM   Apr 21, 2010

jason ★★

Definitely an interesting back story. I'm not sure whether I'm more impressed by his playing it that well from memory of his wife's humming or saddened by the fact that he'd never heard it before then.

11:17 AM   Apr 21, 2010

GoLions 

Christina Aguilerra not on this list?!? I mean beside the butchered lyrics how about this gem?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1M_LMJEJOv8

10:11 AM   Jun 14, 2011

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