Talk sports, pop culture and more with SI.com's Jimmy Traina.
1/17/2007 08:51:00 AM
Most Unforgettable Musical Performances
When you think of an artist that a college football crowd would like, doesn't Ashlee Simpson come to mind right away?
Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage.com
With Prince set to perform at halftime of Super Bowl XLI on Feb. 4, it's time to look at the most unforgettable performances (in no particular order) from various sporting events. These aren't necessarily the best performances, but a combination of the best, worst and most controversial.
1. Janet Jackson at Super Bowl XXXVIII: We start with the performance that caused more buzz and trouble than any another in history -- Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction. When Justin Timberlake sang the line, "Gonna have you naked by the end of this song," and then carried out the promise by ripping part of Jackson's top, it became the most rewound moment in TiVo history and changed the standard guidelines for TV broadcasters.
2. Whitney Houston at Super Bowl XXV: Before the singer's most famous moment on television -- telling Diane Sawyer that "crack is whack" -- Houston was best remembered for her emotional rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner during the Gulf War.
3. Marvin Gaye at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game: While Houston belted out a traditional version of the national anthem, it was Gaye's unique and soulful rendition that whipped the Great Western Forum crowd into a frenzy. How many times have you heard a crowd actually clap along to The Star-Spangled Banner?
4. U2 at Super Bowl XXXVI: On Feb. 3, 2002, just four months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the band performed Where the Streets Have No Namewhile the names of the victims scrolled upward on an enormous backdrop during the song. The result was an uplifting, moving and emotional rememberance.
5. Ashlee Simpson at the 2005 Orange Bowl: Before Ashlee got some plastic surgery and became hot, she was known as Jessica's younger sister who was busted for lip synching on Saturday Night Live in October 2004. A few months later, Ashlee took to the stage at halftime of the Orange Bowl, but unlike the folks who were in the audience at SNL, the Miami crowd let Simpson know what it thought of her screeching performance and booed her off the stage. For you maschochists reading this, here's a longer version of the clip.
6. Michael Jackson at Super Bowl XXVII: In what has to be the most bizarre Super Bowl halftime performance ever, Jackson sang a medley of his hits while being joined on stage (around the stage, actually) by 3,500 children. Michael Jackson and 3,500 children. I'll leave it at that. The best part of the clip comes at the 1:20ish mark when Michael is giving a speech about remaking the planet into a haven of joy while holding a microphone, but then quickly has to start singing and completely botches the lip synching.
7. Caroline Marcil at a 2005 U.S.-Canada exhibition hockey game: In a clip made famous on the Internet, poor Caroline twice botched the words to the anthem, went to the dressing room to get the lyrics, came back and fell hard onto the ice before leaving without trying to sing the song for a third time.
8. Carl Lewis at a 1993 Nets game: Lewis attempted to put his own spin on the national anthem, but from the first looooong note, you knew he was in trouble. And so did he. Midway through the song, Lewis promised to make up for his shaky start. Moral of the story: Lewis can run, but he can't keep promises.
9. Roseanne Barr at a Padres game in 1990: The sitcom star screamed the national anthem, spit, grabbed her crotch and almost caused a riot at Jack Murphy Stadium. The incident became a major news story and Barr received death threats. Could you imagine someone trying to do this today. Unfortunately -- or maybe fortunately -- there is no video of the incident online, but this link is more than enough.
10. Borat at the Rodeo: In his recent hit movie, the Kazakhstani reporter started off as a hit when he addressed the Salem, Va., crowd and told them he supported America's war of terror. However, when Borat tried to sing Kazakhstan's national anthem and said all other countries are run by little girls, the fans quickly turned on him.
Are there any performances I've left off the list? Which version of The Star-Spangled Banner is your favorite -- Whitney Houston's or Marvin Gaye's? Which performance is most disturbting -- Michael Jackson's or Roseanne Barr's?
Bad -- Whitney Houston singing the national anthem. It became a performance – a tribute to Whitney, not an honor to the country. We should all stand and sing the National Anthem before the start of an event, not stand and listen to someone singing a version we have no hopes of replicating.
Good -- You want to hear a great rendition of the National Anthem before a game – find the version Huey Lewis and the News sang at the All-Star Game in San Francisco – I think mid 80s. Great version with great harmonies -- and everyone could still sing along.
Best -- Best version, all time of the National Anthem, Mo Cheeks and Natalie Gilbert, April 2003, before a NBA Playoff game.
Poor Natalie forgot the words at the start of the song, and Mo rushed over to sing it with her. Mr. Cheeks is a class act.
those are all fine and well. but lets think about prince performing at the superbowl for a second. I mean prince ? thats worse than MJ, when you think of football do you really think Prince ? Come on bring back the bands like Aerosmith or how about the montage that does the MNF theme, now that would be a half time show....
Check out the 1991 NHL All-Star Game National Anthem from the Old Chicago Stadium. It's highly underrated and blows Whitney Houston out of the water. You can see the video on the Chicago Blackhawks website. Look under Multimedia/Classic Videos.
The best National Anthem i ever heard was an Air Force Captain at the first game of the 1990 World Series (Reds/A's) at Riverfront Stadium. The funniest was Borat's because the joke was on the crowd. The worst was Carl Lewis.
Jose performed a controversial guitar version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" during the 1968 World Series. He got a lot of flak for it. I was also at a Blue Jays-Yankees game in 1985 when some bimbo tried to sing the Canadian anthem without any clue about the melody! Tragic! The Yankees proceeded to lose four straight and fall out of the pennant race.
One of the funniest things I've ever seen was a couple years ago at the NBA All-Star game, when country band Big & Rich did the halftime performance. Keep in mind...this wasn't a rodeo...it was an NBA game. In a crowd largely composed of player entourages & groupies, that would be the absolute last direction I would go. The best part was just watching the crowd, like they couldn't believe what they were seeing. High comedy.
how about the national athem during the 2006 Edmonton Oilers playoff run...the singer stops after 2 lines, holds up the mic and 17,000 people take over singing? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meLpuF9UMvk
I also remember Jose Feliciano's version of the National Anthem. I think it was during the 1968 World Series between the Tigers and Cardinals (Sound familiar? Tigers won that time). Unique and beautiful performance as I remember it, and not universally appreciated because of his creative interpretation.
When Jim Nabors sings "back home again in Indiana" every year before the Indy 500, its fabulous - even if you don't live in the state or lived there years ago. The effect is wonderful! also...Lou Rawls sang the National Anthem before one of the White Sox world series games at Cominsky...oops Cellular One field; a few weeks later, he died. In retrospect, the performance was even more amazing!
You can't leave out Faith Hill singing the Star Spangled Banner at the opening of Adelphia Colosseum. She was absolutely smoking hot, her rendition was amazing, and the Titans won their opening game. Coincidence? Not a chance.
Didn't Aerosmith get in big trouble when the changed the last line from "and the home of the brave" to "and the home of the Indy 500"? After that debacle (and having heard Steve Tyler's gratingly awful voice on the radio for the past 30 years) they ought to be permanently banned from all sporting events.
How in God's name can you not mention U2 and Greenday's performance of the "Saints are Coming", which was only a couple of months ago. I'm not from the Gulf Coast area, but I'm an American and that was some amazing stuff.
Similar to the Mo Cheeks National Anthem, a few years back at an Arena Football game in Raleigh, NC, the 8-year old girl singing forgot the words. Not a problem - the 12,000 in the audience joined in, and she finished spectacularly.
For me, the best was a two-fer. 1993 MLB All-Star Game. Canadian National Anthem (the only time I've ever liked it) by Rush's Geddy Lee and the American National Anthem read as poetry, with a backing chorus, by James Earl Jones. That was cool!
Kate Smith singing God Bless America for the Philadelphia Flyers...I hate the Flyers - one of only 2 teams I actively root for them to lose (other team - NY Rangers). But Kate Smith's version always gives goose bumps whenever they played the video. And their current singer - Lauren Hart - does both SSB and GBA and means more to Philly than any player on any team. She is awesome.
it wasn't the National Anthem, but I couldn't help but be moved last year when Alecia Keys sang "America" and they brought in a video of the late Ray Charles singing with her. Pretty powerful. I agree with the other post about Huey Lewis' rendition of the national anthem. It was awesome. As for the post questioning Prince, it's a brilliant move in recent years, to bring folks to attract those who might not normally watch a Super Bowl. Plus, I haven't missed watching a Super Bowl in 30+ years, and I'm thrilled he'll be the halftime entertainment. If you've truly never seen him perform, open your minds and ears and check him out. He's an incredible musician and performer. Certainly more capable than some in the past.
Let's not forget Destiny's Chld getting berated by the Philly fans during the NBA Finals. The confusing part is for the fans was whether to boo their performance or their horrible hybrid jersey outfits.
The best was Marvin Gaye. I even have it on my Ipod. Whitney Houston was great, but I agree with the earlier comment. The Wayne Messmer version of the anthem at the 91 NHL All-Star Game at the old Chicago Stadium, which could really rock in the day, came just days after Desert Storm started. The place went berzerk. For sheer drama, it topped Whitney by just a bit.
Can we mix fact and fiction? You have Borat at #10, so why not mention the famous renditions of national anthems in that sports cult classic "Slapshot", where the anthems become shorter and shorter as the movie progresses. By the end of the flick, the Star-Spangled Banner and O Canada are compressed to about 5 seconds, total.
I would agree with you on number 4 to a point. And that point is where the song finished and the two banners displaying the names of the victims came crashing down amid some pyrotechnics. I sat in disbelief wondering if I had really just witnissed something that tacky.
Prince is our half time show? Please.... I could care less about Prince and I'll be sure to turn the TV channel to spare myself the aganoy. Who comes up with these. They obviously do not watch football or talk to football fans. Sure alot of people watch the superbowl, but how about the fans who watch it every week. We deserve better!
the best rendition of the anthem that i ever heard was at an all-star baseball game a few years back. it was a single cornet playing a moving anthem. one of the best non-anthem musical moments was amazing grace on the bagpipes as the police and fireman marched into shea, the first game back after 9/11.
Lucy Lawless singing the National Anthem during a Red Wings playoff game a few years ago. I feel like I'm the only one who saw it live. She was wearing Linda Carters original Wonder Woman costume and found out that her boobs where bigger then hers at the endof the song when she raised her hands to the cheering crowd. When her arms went up, they came out. When her arms went down, they went back.
I didn't read all the comments so don't know that anyone mentioned the re-opening of the Superdome. Green Day starts with "When September Ends," the groups combine for "The Saints are Coming," then U2 goes directly into "Beautiful Day." It perfectly captured the moment and the year. How this cannot be on the list is beyond me.
I thought the most powerful rendition on The Star Spangled Banner came from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir during the 2002 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony when they performed the National Anthem while the flag from Ground Zero in New York City was in the stadium.
Marvin Gaye by far the best. Who would think to have either Roseanne or Michael do the anthem. The best version is the Marine Corps band. It Soars and take flight. The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra is very upbeat and plays the anthem with bravado.
Quick follow up to Mo Cheeks helping Natalie Gilbert with the words to The Anthem. The Blazers invited her back to try again and the second time she absolutely nailed it. Sweet kid, lovely voice, classy move.
Here's hoping Prince has an equipment malfunction so we don't have to listen to him. Oh, and when did he change his name back? I thot he was formerly known as Prince. All of the talent out there and he's the best they can find? Another low point...
The best superbowl performance i've seen is Michael Jackson's in 1993. Yet you choose to ridicule him? even after he was found not guilty on 10 counts! interesting...he is one of the greatest entertainers of our time and deserves some respect.
I've never been so proud in my life to be from South Florida as we when booed Ashlee off the stage at the OB. Trojan fan, Sooner fan and general football fan were able to unite as one at that instant. "You make me wanna SCREAM!"
Props to the guy mentioning the Anthem at the '91 NHL All-Star Game. Getting chills just thinking about it
Three nominations: Robert Merrill singing live before Yankee games several years back; you could close your eyes and just know it was Yankee Stadium. Have heard Kelsey Grammer do it perfectly a few times (and he actually sings with his hand over his heart). Third, just go to any service academy football game and her the whole crowd spontaneously sing along with the band.
The funniest part of the Carl Lewis disaster was the coverage by ESPN's Charlie ____, he laughed so hard that they had to go to a station break, he got all choked up and even excused himself several times, watching him was the funny part, watching Carl was just sad.
my all-time favorite bad is polka-boy Bobby Vinton in the 1991 NLCS series with Pittsburgh Cincinnati. He forgot the lyrics halfway through and just made it up as he went along. The performance actually got Jack Buck fired as an announcer at the end of the Series because he made a Polish joke reference to the performance.
The greatest national anthem? Wayne Messmer's 1991 rendition of the US and Canadian National Anthems for the NHL All-Star game at the Barn (Old Chicago Stadium) performed 2 days after the start of the Gulf War. It was so powerful, in fact, that General Norman Schwarzkopf is reported to have shown tapes of Messmer's performance to his troops in the Persian Gulf.
...No we haven't forgotten the awful Rolling Stones performance at last year's Super Bowl. Even they knew they sucked. My kids were totally grossed out by Mick Jagger's bat wing arms flapping in the wind. That's what happens when you get old! Lord help us all....
If I remember correctly, Stacey Q did a horrific version of the "Star Spangled Banner" before a Lakers game in the late 80's. I think they showed it on Roggin's show and I think Chick Hearn was groaning at the version.
Two best left off the list (and mentioned already) (1) Mo Cheeks helping Natalie Gilbert with Star Spangled Banner. One of the best sports moments of all time. (2) Huey Lewis and the News rendition of the Star Spangled Banner at 49'er games.
To 3:04 who says the SSB isn't a soul or gospel song -
The beauty of the song is that it is what we want it to be. It's originally a poem and the tune comes from an English drinking song. The fact that that particular tune stuck is amazing in and of itself.
All the great renditions are great because the performances can reflect who we are, as a nation and as music lovers. By your logic, any 'rock' version of the song is just as blasphemous because it's not the 'original'.
Gaye, a great American musician, made it his own and the crowd agreed. I think that version is a turning point in NBA history myself.
Great call on the 1991 NHL All Star Game in Chicago. It was just after the start of the Gulf War and the fans at the cramped old Chicago Stadium were so loud throughout that you didn't hear a word of the actual song. A spectacular patriotic moment. However, I can see leaving it off the list because it was the fans that made it so memorable and not the actual performer.
How could anyone think there's a worse version of SSB than when Kathy Lee Gifford completely mangled it? It was so bad my hair tried to crawl off my head and throttle me so I wouldn't have to hear the screeching that was her singing...
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