Cyndi Lauper And Other National Anthem Disasters

Cyndi Lauper

Singers be warned: There is one song you are not allowed to mess up – “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Before this weekend’s U.S. Open women’s semi-final match between Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki in New York, Cyndi Lauper was tasked with singing the National Anthem and she didn’t exactly do it justice. Wearing a short Statue of Liberty dress, Lauper started into the song following a moment of silence for the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and flubbed the lyrics. Instead of singing, “O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming,” Lauper sang, “O’er the ramparts, we watched as our flag was still streaming.”

And people are not pleased about it. Twitter lit up soon afterward with none-too-kind comments for the eccentric singer, but she’s far from the first to come under fire for botching “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

In February, Christina Aguilera was put through the wringer when she flubbed the National Anthem at Super Bowl XLV in Dallas. It was especially strange to hear “The Voice” judge screw up the lyrics – she tripped up on the same line that Lauper did – because she’s performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” on numerous occasions since she was a child.

During her childhood in western Pennsylvania, the “girl with the big voice” performed the Anthem before home games for Pittsburgh-area sports teams like the Penguins, Steelers and Pirates. In 1992, she sang it before the Penguins took the ice for the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals.

As an adult, she delivered a pitch perfect take at last year’s NBA finals.

It didn’t matter how many times she’d gotten the song right because when she got it wrong, she did it on the single biggest stage possible – the Super Bowl, the most watched TV event of the year in the U.S. Aguilera got blasted in the press and issued an apology saying she “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.”

Other mainstream performers who have taken (considerably less) heat for flubbing the anthem at a public event include Keri Hilson and Michael Bolton.

But, arguably, the greatest offense against the “Star-Spangled Banner” came when the song got butchered by Roseanne at a San Diego Padres and Cincinnati Reds game in July 1990. The sitcom legend delivered a screechy take on the Anthem and mimicked the behavior of baseball players by spitting and grabbing her crotch while singing. Roseanne claimed she was encouraged to “bring humor to the song,” but her actions were widely ridiculed, including a diss by then-president George H.W. Bush, who called Roseanne’s take on the song “disgraceful.”

So for everyone’s benefit, below are the full lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” We encourage anyone who is going to sing the song in public, even those who believe they know the lyrics, to look them over. You’re welcome.

O! say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
’Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust;”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave