Jimmy Buffett Wasn't the First: The Most Controversial National Anthem Performances
See who made the list
Historically speaking, people are almost always blown away by celebrities who decide to take on the honor of belting out “The Star-Spangled Banner” at high-profile events. (Never forget Whitney Houston’s chill-inducing performance at Super Bowl XXV in 1991.)
That being said, there have also been a handful of times singers’ renditions didn’t go over well with audiences, which was the case with Jimmy Buffett last weekend during the NFC Championship Game in New Orleans.
Amid the buzz-worthy moment, we’re taking a look back at other star-fronted national anthem performances that left some viewers speechless, confused and inspired … to create memes commemorating the occasion.
The beloved singer and lifelong New Orleans Saints fan sang the anthem at the NFC Championship Game in New Orleans in 2018, ending with a mic drop. Twitter was not impressed with either the mic drop or the performance, with some calling it “the worst rendition of all time” and “rough.”
The country trio warmed up the crowd ahead of Game 5 of the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs, and the song was going smoothly for Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood — until they hit the fourth line.
Skipping over “O’er the ramparts we watched,” Kelley went straight for “were so gallantly streaming” before Scott course-corrected and the group finished strong, sharing a laugh at the end of the song. (A few Nashville Predators players snuck in a giggle as well.)
Taking the court at Los Angeles’ Staples Center in 2018, the “A Little Work” singer performed a sultry rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” reworking the tune to more of a jazzy beat.
Throughout the performance, the camera caught an array of expressions of those on the court and in the crowd at the game. “Players and celebs seemed surprised by her rendition of the anthem,” said a source who was present. “After the performance she didn’t seem fazed.”
Following the controversy, Fergie issued an apology. “I’ve always been honored and proud to perform the national anthem and last night I wanted to try something special for the NBA,” she said in a statement acquired by PEOPLE. “I’m a risk taker artistically, but clearly this rendition didn’t strike the intended tone. I love this country and honestly tried my best.”
The Roseanne star’s infamous version was delivered before a 1990 baseball game. Despite Barr’s pitchy performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which was so awful that President George H. W. Bush called it “disgraceful,” the sitcom queen joked that Fergie’s version was worse. “Who saw Fergie’s national anthem performance at the NBA All Star Game?” Barr tweeted. “I think mine was better lowkey [sic].”
There’s no question Hilson is a talented singer, but the crooner came under fire after forgetting some of the words to the national anthem at a 2010 NBA Lakers vs. Hawks game.
… and Hilson wasn’t the only one. Bolton also forgot the lyrics while singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Only difference? The performer shamelessly peeked at his hand, where he had the words to the iconic song scribbled.
At 20 years old, the singer took on the honor of belting out “The Star-Spangled Banner” — but not without experimenting with her vocal range and flubbing the lyrics at a 2008 Dallas Cowboys game.
Josh Groban and Flea
At the 2010 BCS championship game, Groban and Flea (of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame) teamed up to sing and play the guitar, respectively. Groban may have the voice of an angel, but the inclusion of an electric guitar, as well as trumpets and drums, didn’t quite mesh well.
The Aerosmith singer brought his harmonica to help him kick off the national anthem, which featured botched lyrics and a howl Tyler fans are all too familiar with.
The Van Halen frontman was invited to belt out “The Star-Spangled Banner” ahead of the San Francisco Giants’ World Series Ring Ceremony in 2011 with the aid of guitarist Joe Satriani — but fumbled through a few of the song’s verses at the event.
Are we at a Creed concert? The frontman performed the national anthem at the 2005 NASCAR Ford 400, signature growl and all.