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WATCH: the 6 worst renditions of the 'Star-Spangled Banner'*

*WARNING: unsuitable for those with an appreciation of melody and rhythm.

Aerosmith's Steven Tyler gives it socks.
Aerosmith's Steven Tyler gives it socks.
Image: Winslow Townson/AP/Press Association Images

WHAT MAKES A performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” genuinely memorable?

Sometimes the secret lies in channeling the enthusiasm and confidence at the heart of the American experience: triumphalism, military fly-bys, vocal runs, microphone waving, choirs of orphans.

Sometimes it’s all about honesty, humility and the epic sweep of the song’s narrative (though don’t stray beyond the second verse: the song drops its PG rating in favour of rants about blood sacrifice).

But if mastering the art of stagecraft seems like it might be beyond you, you can always opt – like this selection of unfortunates – for failure on a grand and humiliating scale.

Steven Tyler

He gurned, he screamed, he forgot the lyrics – things you can usually afford to do as the (formerly) coke-addled frontman of an ageing hair metal band -  except he did it alone, in broad daylight… and in the unforgiving absence of musical accompaniment.

Ray Lewis was not impressed.

Michael Bolton

Eighties cheesemeister Michael Bolton is beloved of cat ladies everywhere, but earned a stadium-load of boos when he drew a lyrical blank mid-way through this ye olde performance.

Taught Sarah Palin everything she knows.

(YouTube credit: MikeyBolton)

Demi Lovato

This is what happens when you ask a 16-year-old for the performance of a lifetime.

“And the rocket’s red gla-OOOooooooohhhh-oww-yeah-oooooooh-eeeee-ungh…”

(YouTube credit: YassoXMusicXLife)

Carl Lewis

You’re Carl-flipping-Lewis, a nine-time Olympic gold medallist and the most naturally gifted athlete since Hercules. There is nothing you cannot do!

Frailty, thy name is hubris.

(YouTube Credit: OscarGamblesAfro)


If it’s displayed in the absence of egotism, crowds can be forgiving of vulnerability… to a point.

(YouTube credit: wiiiilbur)

Christina Aguilera

A sweaty, panting melange of staccato rhythms, inexplicable vocal trickery, gut-bursting leaps between octaves and nearly tangible self-regard: this, ladies and gentlemen, is the War and Peace of crap anthem performances.

Truly epic.

(YouTube credit: hihellomimi)

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