Wednesday, February 09, 2011

La Puta Christina Aguilera Throttles the National Anthem

Any publicity is good publicity. When was the last time Christina Aguilera mattered? Once you show your cooch, that's it. What else can you do? Rolling Stone (Feb 3, 2010, page 18) said her "Gaga-style makeover didn't work - and neither did her movie (Burlesque) or tour (it was cancelled)." In other words, has-been Aguilera could barely manage a dumb gig like singing the National Anthem. Fortunately, she blew it, and became front page news.

Everyone's been howling over Christina's foul-up. Joyce Chen in the Daily News: "Wardrobe malfunction? More like warble malfunction." As if Chen is perfect? She reported on Christina's final note held "for just over six seconds in her trademark guttaral growl." GUTTARAL? Speaking of typos, a mere hour after Aguilera seared everyone's ears, the USA Today website rushed to report it…and spelled her last name wrong:

Here's the truth: the rage over Christina Aguilera has little to do with her memory lapse. Many didn't even notice that she sang words from another line over again and made up some stuff: ""Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight, what so proudly we watched at the twilight's last reaming." So? She forgot "o'er the ramparts we watched?" What's this bitch know about "ramparts?" Except her parents probably ate them along with goat balls.

Most of us would have trouble memorizing that song, and most of us can't sing along to it. The lyrics aren't helped along by the dodgy, octave-lurching stolen tune, the drunken British "Anacreontic Song" (you can hear it below.)

No, the fury is not really about Christina dis-honoring the song by forgetting a line, but by her ethnic over-emoting...that hackneyed Whitney Car-Alarm Houston style of braying. Everyone howled at her because of the lyric lapse because it's just not politically correct to complain that adding ten syllables where there should be one, is tiresome, moronic and in the case of "The Star Spangled Banner," an insult. We wouldn't expect a redneck hillbilly to yodel our anthem, and we'd be allowed to call that person "white trash" if it happened, but critics couldn't say "Christ, Christina and her black-influenced pseudo-soul vibrato and syllable extensions suck." So they could only flog her for messing up a few words...a gleeful excuse for what they really disliked...the unspeakable sin of monkeying around with the melody. Simple words like "night" and "wave" shouldn't be tormented vocally like a child twisting a worm and then pulling it apart. PS, singing a line loud and long (as Streisand and Garland did) is also a very poor substitute for conveying a lyric's emotions.

If you showed up at a Beethoven festival, invited to play the "Moonlight Sonata," and you did it in reggae style, or played it on a bent saw or a collection of half-full bottles, you'd be disrespecting the memory of Beethoven. If you're in concert, and you feel like doing your own interpretation or butchery, fine…you're doing it on your own time in front of your own audience. Otherwise…do it THE RIGHT WAY.

PS, "The Star Spangled Banner" should not be sung at stupid events. Who the fuck said that before two teams of millionaires play a game — a GAME — we need to hear about how our flag managed not to get destroyed by gunfire during one lousy battle in one of our country's many, many wars? How about boxing matches? Some guy from America fights some guy from another country…and the national anthems are sung (badly) just to incite the fans toward racial hatred! This is a sports event between two men, not some symbolic battle over whose country is best.

Lastly, if a patriotic song HAS to be sung, hire an inspiring presence. I think of Ronan Tynan, who stands up…on artificial legs…to sing "God Bless America" at stadium events. I think of the late Robert Merrill and his great version of the "Star Spangled Banner" at baseball games. He brought opera-style singing to people who'd never know it otherwise, and his is probably the best version of the song ever recorded. We don't need our national anthem to be an "American Idol" event where the more inappropriate syllables you add, the more street cred you're supposed to get.

Here now, the "Anacreontic Song" and its sobered-up sister, "The Star Spangled Banner." Why even bother with a download of Christina's performance? Because it justifies the rant above, and it could be useful if you've run out of Haley's M.O. or Syrup of Ipecac. You can follow along on the lines YOU don't know by heart either:

"Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,

What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?

Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,

O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?


John Gower - THE ANACREONTIC SONG, original music later used for Key's poem "The Star Spangled Banner."


Anonymous said...

You've got a friend in JOHN ESKOW. He wrote this in his column at Huffington Post

To me, the horrific part of Christina Aguilera's rendition of the National Anthem -- and "rendition" is an apt term for it, because she kidnapped the song and shipped it out to be tortured -- was not her mangling of the words, but her mangling of the tune itself.

This is the same grotesque style -- 17 different notes for every vocal syllable -- that has so dominated the pop and R&B charts for years. Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston are relatively minor offenders, but singers like Aguilera -- who admittedly possesses a great instrument -- just don't seem to know when to stop, turning each song into an Olympic sport as they drain it of its implicit soul, as if running through the entire scale on every single word was somehow a token of sincerity.

It's called melisma -- the bending of syllables for bluesy or soulful effect -- and what's creepy about the way it's used now is that it perverts America's true genius for song, as evinced by its creators in the world of gospel and R&B, like Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin.

You will hear more of this tonsil-twisting insincerity -- to your eternal sorrow -- if you watch any episode of American Idol.

RICHIE said...


Christina Aguilera said...

I know most people do not think it was a big deal but she could have inspired to many by belting out our anthem. Instead she messed up her own countries Anthem~