13 Worst Celebrity National Anthem Performances of All Time, From Roseanne to Steven Tyler (Videos)

Brian Welk
·4-min read

Jackie Evancho already has her work cut out for her when she performs the National Anthem at Donald Trump’s inauguration. But the 16-year-old singer has to hit all the notes too (watch her perform it in 2015). And audiences are never kind when you bungle “The Star Spangled Banner,” no matter how famous you are. Everyone from Roseanne Barr to Steven Tyler‘s Aerosmith has earned America’s scorn over the years.

Roseanne

Believe it or not, Roseanne Barr wasn’t trying to be funny when she screeched her way through the National Anthem in 1990. She told the LA Times she was flattered and that she was a good singer. But she failed to take Johnny Carson’s advice and started too high. The boos come loud and fast, but like any comic who’s bombed before, she barrel rolls through her ear-piercing, crotch-grabbing rendition in a little over a minute, then spits on the mound before bailing.

Carl Lewis

This performance by Carl Lewis before a Chicago Bulls game seems almost inexplicable, because he’s not a singer but an Olympic track and field star. He murdered Francis Scott Off-Key’s song, as these ESPN broadcasters put it, in failing to hit the high notes and apologizing midway through with an intent to make it up to the crowd (he never could). He later told Oprah he was “glad” he botched it.

Steven Tyler

Fresh off their 2001 album “Just Push Play,” people were “Jaded” after seeing Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler try and spruce up the National Anthem, first by riffing on harmonica, then essentially shouting through the performance. He doesn’t even sing “brave” at the end of the song, opting to call out to the Indy 500 crowd as fireworks went off. You wouldn’t have thought it could get worse until…

R. Kelly

Steven Tyler wasn’t the only one to get creative with the anthem. R. Kelly brought his signature R&B soul to a performance at a boxing match at Mandalay Bay, throwing in some synths, backbeats and hand clapping smoothness into the song. Unfortunately we won’t be getting more of the same at this year’s inauguration, as he’s one of the celebrities who said he won’t perform.

Aaron Lewis

Lead singer of alt-rock band Staind Aaron Lewis delivered a relatively strong, growling rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner,” but early on he missed the line “at the twilight’s last gleaming.” He felt devastated, asking for “the Nation’s forgiveness” by saying his “nerves got the best of me.”

Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera likewise nailed her pitch but found herself doubling back to “the twilight’s last gleaming” rather than moving on to “gallantly streaming.” Maybe she doesn’t nail the last note, but she still performed like a pro.

Michael Bolton

The incredible echo you can hear in this video would’ve been enough to doom Michael Bolton’s crooning of the Anthem at this 2003 Red Sox vs. Yankees game, but Bolton had to stop and peek at lyrics scrawled in his palm in order to remember “twilight’s last gleaming,” and the Boston fans let him have it.

Kat DeLuna

This 20-year-old Dominican pop star put a lot of bluster and verve into her performance of “The Star Spangled Banner.” The eye test would make you think she’s killing it. But a pitchy last note and a chorus of boos from this Dallas Cowboys crowd would disagree.

Flea

Maybe this one isn’t bad so much as perplexing. Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea performed a solo, phased out performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” at Staples Center this past April for Kobe Bryant’s farewell game that drew mixed reaction. Compare that to when he formed a bizarre duet with Josh Groban singing the Anthem back in 2010.

Alexis Normand

Maybe she would’ve been better of singing “Oh, Canada”? Canadian jazz singer Alexis Normand’s mind went completely blank as she fumbled words left and right to the Anthem that she ended up humming the remainder of the song. Thankfully the crowd was polite enough to bail her out.

Rachel Platten

Rachel Platten, best known for “Fight Song,” messed up the national anthem not once, but twice, while performing before the NWSL soccer game between the Utah Royals and the Chicago Red Stars in April. She forgot the words and had to start over, asking the crowd for help.

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