U.S. National Anthem FAILs

U.S. National Anthem FAILs

Updated Mar 18, 2014 at 11:13PM EDT by Brad.

Added Oct 25, 2013 at 05:07PM EDT by Don.

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U.S. National Anthem FAILs refer to performances of the United States national anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner” in which the singer accidentally sings the song incorrectly, off key or offbeat.


At the 1989 World Series, the Yale Whiffenpoofs undergraduate musical group mistakenly sang the lyrics “still there” twice during their rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.”[1]

Notable Developments

Carl Lewis (1993)

During the opener for a Brooklyn Nets basketball game in 1993, Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis sang an off-key rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” (shown below). On August 8th, 2008, YouTuber kojo uploaded footage of the incident, receiving over 1.44 million views and 1,300 comments in the next three years.

Macy Gray (2001)

At the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in 2001, singer-songwriter Macy Gray stumbled over several lyrics and sang slightly off beat during her performance of the national anthem and was subsequently booed by the audience.[2]

Michael Bolton (2003)

In 2003, singer-songwriter Michael Bolton received criticism for glancing at the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner” that were written on the palm of his hand (shown below).

Scott Stapp (2005)

At the NASCAR Ford 400 racing event in 2005, singer Scott Stapp of the rock band Creed performed a rendition of the U.S. national anthem that was widely criticized for being too long and drawn-out.

Christina Aguilera (2011)

On February 6th, 2011, pop star Christina Aguilera changed the words to the anthem’s fourth line, when she sang “what so proudly we watched at the twilight’s last reaming” instead of “O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming.” (shown below).

The mistake inspired the creation of the “Wrong Lyrics Christina”: advice animal image macro series, featuring a photograph of Aguilera accompanied by misheard lyrics from popular songs.

Harper Gruzins (2012)

On July 28th, 2012, 11-year-old Harper Gruzins performed “The Star Spangled Banner,” which was subsequently posted on the Gawker Media sports website Deadspin where it was referred to as “the worst national anthem rendition ever.” The following day, YouTuber SanJoseSharksHockey uploaded a video of the performance (shown below), which garnered over 1.28 million views and 7,000 comments in the next 15 months.

Cymbal FAIL (2013)

On May 18th, 2013, YouTuber sarona2617 uploaded footage of a marching band cymbal player dropping his instrument during a performance of “The Star Spangled Banner,” who proceeds to give a salute for the duration of the anthem (shown below). In the following five months, the video received more than 6.91 million views and 11,700 comments.

James Taylor (2013)

On October 24th, 2013, singer-songwriter James Taylor accidentally started singing the lyrics for the song “America the Beautiful” before recognizing his mistake and switching to “The Star Spangled Banner” (shown below).

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