Monday, February 7, 2011

The Trouble with Ramparts

Rampart (n) A defensive mound of earth or a wall with a broad top and usually a stone parapet. An embarkment for defensive purposes.
Even before the Super Bowl got started, there was excitement. While Christina Aguilera was singing "The Star Spangled Banner," something didn't sound right. Like you, I've heard the song hundreds of times, and when a word (or five) is misplaced, it's noticeable. You have all seen it and read about it, so I'll spare you the analysis. Suffice it to say, Christina is proud of our ramparts.
Later, she would say that "I got caught up in the moment of the song and I lost my place." I suppose that would be a valid excuse for a person who has never been on a stage or sung in front of people, but she is supposed to be a professional, and as such, shouldn't get "caught up" in anything.
Other than her goofy rendition, the thing that I got caught up in was that she said "Thank you" after she finished singing. That's a violation. One does not thank the audience after one sings our National Anthem. You aren't singing for the people, you're singing for your country. Surprisingly, (or not) nobody mentioned that part, but I found it offensive.
The funny thing about the anthem (other than the tune itself) is that singers really aren't allowed to mess with it very much. Occasionally, you'll hear a Jose Feliciano-style version at a smaller event, but generally it's acceptable to sing it "straight," and to spare us the vocal gymnastics.
Unfortunately, people like Aguilera seem to think that we're impressed by making one word sound like a paragraph. The best renditions are always the most simple ones. Get in and get out quickly and spare us the embellishment. It's not about you, it's about the song and your country.
Likewise the half-time show, which has become something of a major entertainment event. The best ones are simple. Musicians with guitars, keyboards and amplifiers playing familiar songs. Sunday's Black Eyed Peas and their space-alien costumes and glitzy production just invites trouble. The more complicated one makes music, the better the chance that something will go wrong. Fergie's microphone was off for part of it, we had trouble hearing Slash's guitar (after he inexplicably appeared from under the stage) and generally, the production was so complicated that the music appeared to be a sidelight.
Since the game has become a collection of TV commercials, big production and more of a television show than a football game, it isn't surprising that almost everything about it gets more complicated as the years go on. Except the game. The game is the only thing that doesn't change, and perhaps the NFL and its entertainment organizers could learn something from that.

1 comment:

Cliff Yankovich said...

The best defense I read for her problem with the anthem was that at least she wasn't lip syncing.

The Peas were a huge disappointment for me. Too much spectacle, not enough music. They looked totally flat n lifeless. Weird. Did not watch the whole game, but did purposely tune in at halftime to catch them. Yuck.