By now, you've all seen or heard about Christina Aguilera's painful butchering of the National Anthem at yesterday's Super Bowl. Most people are latching onto the bungled lyrics, but, c'mon...wasn't that thing excruciating by design? And, frankly, I don't know why any of you expect anything different. The NFL* does this pretty much every year. They trot out some pop star, who, to be honest, has usually seen better days and is in the midst of an all out push to re-establish some relevance. God forbid, they should think of someone who is actually at the height of their popularity -- I'm not really a fan, but I'm pretty sure a Lady Gaga or Katy Perry appearance would have been worth watching. Not to worry; one of them will get the nod in 2023. (Beiber's a Canuck, so let's give him a pass, shall we?)
Anyway, said Diva (and the appellation usually fits the male specimens they disinter for the honor too), goes whole hog trying to outdo every rendition ever previously heard by mankind. And they tend to fuck it up in previously unimaginably embarrassing ways. Within moments, 32% of Americans will be calling for changing the National Anthem to America the Beautiful, 6% will be saying it wasn't that bad, 4% will want to know why Aguilara isn't a judge on American Idol anymore, 23% will be bitching that today's youth, "...ain't got no damned respect. Get me another beer Eunice". Fully 19% of Americans will blame Obama and the remaining 16% were watching Girls on Probation to honor our 40th President's birthday.
Personally, I think.. wait for it...wait for it....WAIT FOR IT....there oughta be a law! Yup, I'm proposing a law. First, it'll need a name. We could call it the Christina Aguilera Law to honor it's latest inspiration, but that wouldn't be fair to Roseanne Barr, Michael Bolton, R. Kelly, or that Cop in Chattanooga. There's also precedent for naming new laws after a noteworthy victim of the crime being addressed by the new law, but the list of potential victims in this case is a little unwieldy. Nope, I'm gonna suggest we emulate our current Congress and give it the clunkiest, cheesiest name we can think of: The Defense of Our National Anthem; The Star Spangled Banner as written and composed by Francis Scott Key and John Stafford Smith of the Anacreontic Society (even if the latter was a vile Limey at a time when we still didn't like them all that much, but that's water under the bridge) Act; a Statute which shall safeguard American Ears and the Ears of Naturalized Citizens (but only by incidental consequence, the Ears of Undocumented Aliens) from cacophonous and/or mis-sung renditions of the Anthem, and also as Evidence of the Patriotism of all Congressmen & Senators who shall have voted correctly regarding its adoption. Doesn't that just roll of the tongue and guarantee Bi-partisan support?
I'm open to suggestions on what exactly should be in the bill, but here are a few key elements.
1. A sprightly instrumental interpretation can be achieved in 47 seconds without seeming too rushed and a more stately vocal rendition can be easily performed in 1 minute 16 seconds. Any performance exceeding 1 minute 30 seconds shall be punishable by fine or imprisonment or both.
2. The law should establish official sheet music for the Anthem and performers should be restricted to the notes on the paper with harmonizing acceptable when more than one voice or instrument are in use. Each use of a note not present in the sheet music or used in the wrong portion of the performance shall be punishable by fine or imprisonment or both.
3. The inclusion of trills, tremolo, glissandi, excessive rallentando, coloratura, singspiel vibrato, and/or fatuous improvisation shall be kept to a minimum. More than three instances of any or all of the above shall be punishable by fine or imprisonment or both.
4. The words are the words. Performers shall be encouraged to make use of cue cards, Teleprompters, crib notes or audible cuing devices. Getting it right shall be deemed more important than appearances. Variations in pronunciation intended to accommodate "vocal gymnastics" are to be used in moderation. (Example: The word "proudly" has two syllables and shall not, under any circumstances, be pronounced Puh-ru-uh-ouuuuuuuuuuuuudly.) Variations in pronunciation based on speech impediment or the accent of Non-Native speakers of English will be overlooked, but the transposition or invention of words or lyrics shall be punishable by fine or imprisonment or both.
5. Prior to performing the National Anthem, all performers shall be required to provide officials with a screenshot of their Google Ranking.
6. Congress shall establish the position of U.S. Music Laureate, who shall be responsible for evaluating any performance suspected of not being in compliance. The Music Laureate will serve a term of 2 years so as not to overtax his or her tolerance, excepting that any Music Laureate who has previous experience teaching music at Jr. High School or earlier levels will be deemed to be capable of serving two consecutive terms by virtue of Immunity to Atonality by Prior Exposure. The Music Laureate's compensation will be a relatively small stipend, but each case he/she is called upon to judge will entitle him/her to a generous commission.
Feel free to contribute ideas to this bill. I know it's not really thought out very well, but I want to make sure it feels familiar to the Republicans who would be voting on it.
*The NFL isn't alone here. You can substitute NBA, NHL, MLB, NASCAR, Professional Bowlers Association, or the National Pork Producers' Council to equal effect.