Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday Morning Quarterback

It's always easier to make decisions in the clear view of hindsight, hence there will always be a tendency to be a "Monday Morning Quarterback", and what better Monday is there for this tendency to rear its ugly head than on the Monday after the Superbowl?  Normally watercooler conversation on the day after the Superbowl revolves around a bad throw that was intercepted, or poor use of timeouts by the losing team.  This year the conversation revolves around the biggest blunder of the Superbowl, which ocurred prior to the coin toss.  I am speaking, of course, of Christina Aquilera's lyrical fumbling of our nation's anthem.

Arguably the most important and certainly longest lasting contribution of the  War of 1812 (which was actually fought from 1812 to 1815 and was almost called "The War That No One Will Care About in 200 Years")  was the penning of Francis Scott Key's "The Star Spangled Banner", inspired by the British attack on Fort McHenry in Baltimore.  Fortunately for us Mary Pickersgill had sewn an enormous 1200 square foot flag which Francis was able to see through the night, illuminated by the red glare of the British rockets, to say nothing of the bombs which were bursting in the air.  Were it not for this supersized symbol of American freedom we may have been left to open sporting events and school assemblies with a rousing rendition of "Fort McHenry".

Granted, for some that would be an improvement.  It doesn't take much contemplation to realize that our national anthem could be summed up as follows: Can you see this morning the American flag that we so proudly saw flying as the sun set, and caught glimses of throughout the night, illuminated by the battle raging nearby?  Is our flag still there? 

Fortunately it is not the meaning of the words, or even the poetic beauty of their expression, that is the heart and soul of the Star Spangled Banner, but instead the majestic arrangement that lends the song its heartfelt passion and stirs the soul.  At least, that is, until you mangle the lyrics in front of 70 million viewers.  Suddenly the words take on an importance not attached to an expression since Neil Armstrong botched "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" by leaving out the seemingly insignificant "a", which changed the meaning in such a way that he was contradicting himself.

We shouldn't be too hard on Christina however.  Although she wasn't trying to come to terms with being the first representative of the human race to leave a footprint outside mother Earth while trying to descend a ladder wearing a bulky suit and adjusting to fractional gravitational forces, keep in mind it's probably tough for her to concentrate on singing with so much clothing on.  Not to mention, it's difficult for the new generation of singers to perform without some combination of lip syncing and choreography.  Notice Usher didn't mess up his lyrics during the halftime show.  And what she lacked in lost phrasing she more than made up for in finding a plethora of additional notes that aren't part of the actual song. 

So really she showed her artistic chops by composing a completely new anthem, lyrically and musically, in real-time, while getting the timing just right to have the flyby occur as she was screaming out the last note, even if she had to hold it for 15 seconds.  I'm still not sure if the sonic boom was from the fighter jets or Christina's diaphram exploding.  You try doing that on national tv.