Saturday, February 18, 2012

Whitney Houston Singing the Star-Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl (1991): Did She Set the Standard?



[Previously, on Whitney Houston, at WEJB/NSU:

“Whitney Houston Dead at 48: Racist Singer Found Submerged in Beverly Hills Hilton Bathtub Saturday; She Struggled for Years with Drug Addiction; Cause of Death Pending”;

“Thou Shalt Not Blaspheme the Diva: Fox Tampa Bay Facebook Censor Deletes Less than Worshipful Memory of Whitney Houston”; and

“Hosts of KFI’s John & Ken Show Suspended for Telling the Truth about Whitney Houston; Reconquistas Demand Termination; Prosecution to Follow?”]

By Nicholas Stix

Last Saturday, I heard or read someone saying that Whitney Houston had set the standard for singing the “Star-Spangled Banner.” I thought to myself, Isn’t that odd? Why would anyone think to bring up the matter? Moments later, I learned why.

I couldn’t recall Houston’s rendition, and hunted it down.

There are many adjectives I could use to describe it, but “standard-setting” is not one of them. Granted, I have heard worse—there seems to be an unofficial can-you-top-this contest among contemporary performers, as to who can treat our national anthem with the most contempt—and Houston wasn’t the first to butcher it, but she was surely a powerful influence on the movement to ruin it through embellishment, self-indulgence, and general disrespect.

The earliest offenders in this category were Jimi Hendrix and Jose Feliciano, who were no friends of America.

Things have gotten so bad that people under a certain age surely assume that the butchered versions are the "correct" ones and that anyone who sings the Anthem cleanly, respectfully, and in the traditional manner, is screwing it up.


Robert Merrill Singing Our National Anthem, the Way It was Meant to be Sung

Thanks to gentamicinman.

Robert Merrill, U.S. Air Force Band, Singing Sergeants, Conductor Amy R. Mills at Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C., undated.

For 30 years, Robert Merrill (Moishe Milstein), 1917-2004, was the star baritone of the Metropolitan Opera. And did he love America! He stuttered as a child, was the son of poor, Polish immigrants, and as a Jew, wasn’t even permitted to buy a box at the Met, let alone sing there. But in the sort of story that is increasingly rare in diverse America, he made all his dreams come true, through talent and pluck!

Many a time, as a child, I watched Merrill sing the Anthem live on TV at Yankee Stadium, before a Yankees game. For although the Mets were, and remain, first in my heart, I also watched as many Yankee games as possible each year.

Merrill always gave the song the powerful, clean, respectful interpretation that it deserves. He set the standard, and he never tired of singing “The Star Spangled Banner.”

The above performance is far from his best, because he was in his late seventies or older, but even on his worst day, he could whip today’s young “celebrities.” If I or one of my readers can find an earlier Merrill performance with high-quality audio, I will post it.


Anonymous said...

That crack ho's rendition wasn't that bad considering the amount of snow that was probably powering her vocal chords. I can just imagine what that head of her's looked like under all that glued on hair she wore.
I know. I know. I'm not showing any respect for a crack addled waste of life who died naked in a bath tub drunk on booze and dope.
Lower the flag man.

Eliza said...

It's really sad, I meant she has this great voice that I yearned for yet she choose to go down a spiral path. They said, we shouldn't speak ill of the dead, but sometimes the truth must be told. Whitney was a drug addict who refuse to stay sober and that is the facts. She will be remembered by her music and her drug addiction that cost her death, anyway R.I.P

Anonymous said...

You really just badgered a deceased child of god for singing the start spangle banner with emotion. It was great and people like you need help just as must as people with drug addictions. You're no where close to being perfect either.

Nicholas said...

ANON, SAT, FEBRUARY 18, 2012 7:59:00 A.M. EST

Exactly! We must show the requisite “respect for a crack addled waste of life who died naked in a bath tub drunk on booze and dope.” We wouldn’t want any illiterate racists getting on us about our own imperfections and need for re-education, in the form of some boiling water baths and “necklacing,” would we, now?

Nicholas said...

ANON, SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2012 3:40:00 P.M. EST

1. You can’t “badger” the dead, although her family is surely doing plenty of that to her daughter, in seeking to suck money out of her;

2. How do you know she was a “child of god” [sic]? She acted more like a child of Satan;

3. If you had taken the trouble to listen to the rendition by the late Robert Merrill, may he rest in peace, you would have heard plenty of emotion. Controlled, respectful, emotion. I took the trouble to listen to both performers. Why wouldn’t you? Could it be because you’re … a racist?!;

4. “… people like you need help just as must [sic] as people with drug addictions.” And I’ll just bet you’d be willing to give me the help, too. A few baths of boiling water, followed by a few dozen machete cuts, and topped off by a flaming “necklace,” eh?; and

5. “You're no where close to being perfect either.” Tea, China, plus a side of hypocrisy. If being perfect is a prerequisite to criticizing anyone, how come you’re criticizing me? Take a look in the mirror, and hope it doesn’t crack.

Incorrigible Truthseeker said...

Okay, Whitneys version was not all that bad except for the "Flava" moments, it was very powerful to say the least.
Mr. Merrill's on the other hand is how I remember it thru the years and I had to stand up and put my hand over my heart. What we hear in his version is purely patriotic, he is feeling what he sings and vise versa. What a great way to start Sunday morning.

By the way, hilarious response to Anon at 3:40 P.M. lol