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Top 10 American National Anthem Performance Fails

These American national anthem performance fails didn't exactly make us feel pride in our country.

These are the horrific remixes of America’s most patriotic tune. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the "Top 10 U.S. National Anthem Performance Fails."

For this list, we’re chosen performances in which singers vocally destroyed “The Star-Spangled Banner” or re-wrote their own words to it. 

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#10: Victoria Zarlenga

A 2012 soccer match between the USA and Scotland was the setting for this pitchy performance, which had fans gasping and athletes staring at each other in amazement. Although Victoria Zarlenga rocked the diva finger and looked like the belle of the ball, her voice strained just enough to resemble a dying animal. To her credit, the singer managed to keep the universe in order by nailing the lyrics and blamed the earplug-inspiring vocal on poor auditory perception.

#9: Michael Bolton

The Boston Red Sox were a year away from World Series glory in 2003 and their intense rivalry with the New York Yankees caused fans to tremble with anticipation. One glorious American hero named Michael Bolton temporarily calmed the storm and brought the country together with this confused rendition of the National Anthem during the ALCS that same year. Like so many singers unable to remember America’s most famous song, Bolton took to the hand, closed his eyes and belted away in a Star Spangled slumber.

#8: Cuba Gooding, Sr.

He’s the lead singer of The Main Ingredient and the father of an Academy Award-winning actor, so what happened to this experienced performer in 2008? This awkward, theatrical production of “How High Can You Go” featured outstretched arms and squeaky pitching, along with a butchering of the lyrics. At one point, Cuba Gooding Sr. attempts to rally the audience with an innovative pacing technique, but unfortunately his dynamic pronunciation flipped the script on the thespian affair.

#7: Christina Aguilera

The Super Bowl stage is the home to classic American suspense, but sometimes the Greek masks of comedy and drama make an appearance. In 2011, the illustrious Christina Aguilera began a heart-wrenching rendition of the National Anthem, only to remix the vocals by the fourth line. Like a true pro, the Grammy Award-winning singer moved on with bravery, but the audience experienced a collective déjà vu moment and wondered if it was all a dream directed by Christopher Nolan.

#6: Mike Eli

On a sunny Kansas City day in 2010, a country singer did the unthinkable. While it’s not uncommon for singers to creatively alter “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the lead singer of the Eli Young Band established his own legacy by not only starting over, but also skipping two entire lines during this football game. While scholars have not yet given this approach a name, anyone in attendance that day shall forever remember the awkward affair, as Mike Eli sang his heart out from beginning to beginning to end.

#5: Alexis Normand

At the 2013 Memorial Cup, a jazz singer from Saskatchewan, Canada scatted her way to National Anthem infamy. Despite a strong opening line, Alexis Normand’s vocal confidence quickly transformed to sheer confusion, as she attempted to collect herself and move forward with grace. What happened next was the creation of a new language consisting of part mumbling and part singing, only to be followed up with a powerful rendition of the National Anthem’s final lines.

#4: Ezra Harris

While some of America’s most prestigious singers prepare for the bright lights of television, others simply adhere to the call of duty. At a 2006 police memorial ceremony in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Ezra Harris was asked to perform and became a YouTube sensation with his unique rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. As the cameras rolled, the deputy seemed aware of his lyrical predicament, but continued on with a freestyle melody. For one shining moment, an amused colleague attempted to sing along, only to realize that Mr. Harris was playing by his own rules.

#3: Roseanne Barr

Truly one of America’s greatest mysteries, this comedienne was booked to perform the National Anthem at a 1990 Major League Baseball game and shocked the world with her brash intonations. Despite a lyrically sound interpretation, the rushed style and aggressive voice of Roseanne Barr became an early Internet sensation. With each increasingly exaggerated note, Jack Murphy stadium roared with boos and the performance became a perfect example of how not to perform the Star Spangled Banner. But, as a wise man once said, you get what you pay for.

#2: Carl Lewis

Olympic athletes become national heroes through commitment and excellence, but their dedication to performance doesn’t always translate to the mic. On one fateful day in 1993, Carl Lewis stunned NBA fans, along with Michael Jordan, by delivering a confused, spoken word rendition complete with crowd integration and a thorough restructuring of the Francis Scott Key classic. While the enthusiasm of Lewis was off the charts, his general understanding of the National Anthem earned him a collective boo.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few (dis)honorable mentions.

  • Steven Tyler
  • R. Kelly
  • Anonymous, Enthusiastic Man
  • Natalie Gilbert
  • Harper Gruzins

#1: Caroline Marcil

Whether it’s a lyrical mishap or a vocal disaster, performers understand that the show must always go on. Caroline Marcil forgot the lyrics not once, but twice, prior to a 2004 exhibition hockey game between the USA and Canada, and apologized before leaving the ice. However, just a few moments later, Marcil returned with written lyrics for a shot at redemption, only to suffer an embarrassing backwards tumble and literal fall from grace. As the audience pondered what else could possibly go wrong, Marcil swiftly made her exit and called it a night.

Do you agree with our list? What is your favorite national anthem performance fail? For more mind-blowing Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.

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