How not to sing the national anthem

Some will tell you there’s no worse career move than dying, while others will tell you there’s no better career move than dying, because dead legends still sell a lot of music and merchandise.

Yet when it comes to bad moves, putting in a terrible performance of the National Anthem may not exactly end your career, but it’s certainly a blunder you’ll be lucky to live down.


At the top of this list has to be Carl Lewis’s legendary epic fail, and he’s lucky he made it out of the arena alive. I had never heard this train wreck until recently, and man was it rough going.

At first he’s doing okay, but once he chokes on the “rockets red glare” part, you can hear Lewis getting mercilessly booed. He later tries to calm the crowd by saying, “I’ll make up for it now…,” but the bad notes on “banner” are just painful to listen to.


Of course the one that everyone remembers, and tries hard to forget, was Rosanne Barr’s performance of the National Anthem, but it needs to be said, who was the idiot who hired her to do this in the first place?

The woman was not exactly known for her singing ability. Bret Michaels, who post-Poison has reinvented himself as a reality TV idiot, also put in a performance of the National Anthem that proves the guy just can’t sing, and he had to be bailed out by a back-up singer.


Michael Bolton can certainly sing, but he also got in trouble for forgetting the lyrics. (Watching his Anthem performance, you can actually see him checking his hand, because he wrote the lyrics there in case he forgot.) 

Johnny Gil can also sing just fine, but he also put in one of those endless versions of the Anthem that sounds like he’s auditioning for American Idol. (If you can locate Howard Stern goofing on this on his show, there should still be a clip of it on YouTube, he does a good job at pointing out how some people let their inner ham get the best of them when performing The Star Spangled Banner.)


Some bum notes and mistakes in rock n’ roll are to be expected, a lot of times you get points just for showing up on time, or showing up at all, but it goes without saying that when you’re performing the National Anthem, you better be good and ready, or be prepared to deal with the consequences.