With its eight million views and a jingoistic dash of military worship, Whitney Houston's lip-synched performance of the national anthem is probably the most viewed on YouTube. (We were afraid to look at the view total for Roseanne Barr's virtuoso stylings.)
But if you want to see a real response, not a manufactured one, check out the 2010 NFL opening game performance.
The crowd was stunned, gap-jawed, joyous, amazed and transported by Colbie Caillat's rendition of something it had collectively heard a thousand times before.
Caillat took tens of thousands of people by their lapels and made them listen to Francis Scott Keys' words, and by the time she reached "bursting in air" they were cheering the freaking national anthem (not a performer's showy embellishments.)
Don't get us wrong: we at AKSARBENT are NOT fans of the enforced veneer of patriotism peculiar to American sports as effected by the obligatory prelude of the Star Spangled Banner at every damn hockey, football, baseball and basketball, game. In our darkest moments, we wonder if even chess tournaments are really safe from this shit.
It's nothing personal, Mr. Keys. Criticism of the SSB as war mongering is just stupid; after all, the lyrics depict America as an underdog fighting for its place in the world during the crushing bombardment of Ft. McHenry after the Brits burned down the White House, not the swaggering, economically bullying, spymaster Internet overlord of much of the planet that the U.S. is now.
Those were the days.
An different version of this performance was taken off YouTube by Conan O'Brien's company, Conaco. The sorry saga of that was recounted by Whiteout Press in a piece called "Censoring the National Anthem for copyright violation."
Huh? you might say. Yup: even though the words and music are public domain, the mechanical rights, performance rights and publishing rights for the SSB are not, which is why Major League Baseball "owns" Roseanne Barr's version and the NFL "owns" Whitney Houston's. A lawyer explains that stuff here.
Anyway enjoy the performance below before Conan O'Brien strikes again.