Apparently, Alicia Keys is getting a lot of backlash for her version of the Star-Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl.
What are we complaining about?
Most versions I've ever heard for a national sporting event have been atrocious. Singing it has so often been a "look at me" affair that I personally gave Keys bonus points for taking it in strange new directions.
Ideally, I'd love it if every famous entertainer refused to sing the song unless and until Indefinite Detention was repealed. The line "land of the free and the home of the brave" is cringe-inducing and patently false.
But, like the Alec Guinness character in The Bridge on the River Kwai, my attitude is, if it is to be done, it must be done right.
And who does it right?
If I'm in charge of finding talent to sing the anthem for some major event, the first thing I'd do is call up the First Methodist Church in that town.
The median age of the congregation would probably be 56. I'd recruit the best tenor, bass, alto, and soprano to do a mixed-quartet version -- with or without piano, whatever they're most comfortable with.
They'd nail the song with dignity, without lengthening it or adding more notes.
That is how people want to hear it sung.
Of course, an even better strategy may be to pick a high school band from the host city at random, and have them play while the crowd sang the song.
But that isn't good television, so it'll never happen.