Taking the court at Los Angeles’ Staples Center in a tight, black dress, the 42-year-old “A Little Work” singer performed a sultry rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” reworking the tune to more of a jazzy beat.
“It actually didn’t sound so bad at first,” one attendee tells PEOPLE. “Everyone was just trying to figure out what was going on. Like, was she about to break out into a different song? Then she started doing all those ranges and it just went downhill.”
At points, the star appeared to struggle to hit notes, though she closed out the tune with some impressive vibrato, telling the arena, “Let’s play some basketball!”
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,” says another source who was present. “After the performance she didn’t seem fazed.”
Shortly after Fergie sung her final note, many were already tweeting about her anthem.
“Fergie’s national anthem finished 30 minutes ago and I still haven’t recovered,” wrote @WorldofIsaac. “A part of me will never be the same.”
Some compared Fergie’s approach to Marilyn Monroe’s iconic, breathy performance of “Happy Birthday” for President John F. Kennedy back in 1962.
Others were a little more harsh.
The NBA All-Star Game aired on TNT Sunday night, starting at 8 p.m. ET.
- Reporting by JANINE RUBENSTEIN