Monday, February 7, 2011

It Struck Something or Other


Why Christina Aguilera’s National Anthem Struck a Nerve

Aguilera issued a statement last night about her version saying “I got so caught up in the moment of the song that I lost my place. I can only hope that everyone could feel my love for this country and that the true spirit of its anthem still came through.”

Aguilera’s pop singing style has roots in soul, where the focus is sometimes less on words than on emotions. Sometimes lyrics get skipped or repeated in favor of finding the heart of whatever piece of music is being performed.

Of course there is such a thing as professionalism–and part of that is knowing the lyrics to the song you’ve been selected to perform. Aguilera has been caught between her desire to tap her passionate, creative soul–and the public’s expectation that artists respect certain boundaries when they offer up a song that represents American values.

Aguilera may be taking some flack now, but she has performed the National Anthem in the past, and will no doubt do so again.

“The Star-Spangled Banner” is a song that represents American freedom, so it makes sense that some musicians–like Aguilera–would take some liberties in performing it.

Kent comments:

It’s the Super Bowl, so who is really surprised?  It’s the big show, so, of course, no one can just deliver the national anthem.  (I have to pause to wonder why we feel compelled to have this performed at every sporting event.)  The whole history of this song and this event is enough to make me musically sick.

I suppose that when you think you must contort your face, distort your voice and your whole demeanor, and generally project this whole image as ‘soulful performer’ that you could easily forget not just the lyrics of the song you are singing, but even things like who you are, where you are, or maybe even what you are.

I know this runs against the whole showbiz idea, but I can appreciate someone who simply stands and delivers a song in good voice quality, on-key, with understandable lyrics.  But no one wants that, I know.

Unfortunately, this whole Super Bowl approach often shows up in church music these days.  People don’t have a clue how to sing because they are often too busy trying to emulate pop singers like Aguilera.  We are convinced, it seems, that good singing requires that you contort and distort your voice in hopes that you and your audience will be caught up in ‘emotions.’

A good song, delivered well in an appropriate setting can certainly evoke an emotional response.  But all those ‘goods’ and ‘wells’ must come first.  Last night at the Super Bowl, Christina struck, we might say, up against something.  That something was good music.

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