A slowed, jazzy, somewhat sultry-sounding rendition of the U.S. national anthem is a bad idea that borders on disrespectful to our nation. But that’s pretty much what singer Fergie did with “The Star Spangled Banner” at the 2018 NBA All-Star Game.
I am one of the few people not shaming singer Fergie, or making snarky remarks and jokes, about her well … awkward, breathy version she belted out there. The songstress raised eyebrows and garnered grimaces from many of the people present as she sang. Other cried foul after the fact.
Yes, I grimaced too when I heard it. I felt bad for her, and glad that I wasn’t at the game to hear it in person. Even Fergie, the famed singer from the group “The Black-eyed Peas,” admits her solo performance at the All-Star Game was an epic failure.
Still, I give Fergie some credit for trying something artistically different. She tried to do something special. She cared enough to try to make it a memorable performance. Now, it’s memorable for the wrong reason!
For some people, it triggered memories of the infamous, obviously off-key singing performance of the American national anthem by actress and comedienne Roseanne Barr at a major-league baseball game in San Diego, CA. in 1990. After the song, she grabbed her crotch and pretended as if she was adjusting an athletic cup as baseball players often do at ballgames. It has been said that Roseanne was attempting a funny parody of baseball players. But the crowd expressed dissatisfaction by throwing things in her direction onto the field.
But there’s no comparison between Roseanne’s purposely done horrible national anthem performance, and Fergie’s awkward, sultry performance. For one thing, we all know that Fergie is a professional singer with talent – and … let’s just say singing is probably not where Roseanne’s talent lies. And I say that even though I am fairly certain she intended to sing off-key.
Which brings me to my other difference between the two performances: Intention. It’s clear that Roseanne meant to do a humorous parody. But there is a time and a place for parody and satire. During the singing of our national anthem is not one of them. Fergie, on the other hand, clearly had good intentions.
I have to admit, I generally like my Star-Spangled Banner the same way I like my gin – neat, straight up, without a twist.
Yet, when I heard the late Marvin Gaye’s soulful performance of our nation’s anthem (done in 1983 at that year’s NBA All-Star Game), I liked it! But even Marvin Gaye, a singer who crooned the hit song “Sexual Healing,” didn’t stray as far from most people’s idea of good taste as Fergie did.
Fergie issued a statement in the aftermath of her torch-song style performance. People magazine published parts of her statement in the magazine’s article: “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.”
You keep taking artistic chances and trying your best, Fergie! And keep loving this country! I’ve got your back, girl! But please don’t do that to the U.S. national anthem again. Or next time, you’re on your own.