Breathing new life into an old song

“It was the best national anthem rendition I have ever heard. Better than the game,” Russell Martin of the Los Angeles Dodgers said Monday of 16-year-old Charice’s version at the team’s home opener. “I get tears in my eyes when she really gets going,” manager Joe Torre said.

So, of course, an immediate search of YouTube was in order to find out what the fuss is all about:

Sure, pretty good. But best ever? I reserve that for Marvin Gaye at the 1993 1983 NBA All Star Game. Hands down.

That performance caused a stir. The national anthem, some suggested, should not be sexy.

Everyone has their opinion, of course. My cubicle mate — Chris Roberts — says the “best ever” was Smokey Robinson at the 1986 World Series.

  • JohnnyZoom

    I have to admit Smokeys version was attention-grabbing: splicing the anthem with America the Beautiful.

    I am not a fan of that: too distracting, indulgent, etc. But I find it intriguing nonetheless as IMO America the Beautiful would make a far better national anthem than The Star-Spangled Banner for both singability and lyrical appropriateness. Was he making a point here?

    Charice sounded great but superficial, like any generic performer on American Idol. Marvin sounded great (as always) but his vibe and the anthem vibe don’t jive.

  • Tyler

    There’s a local a cappella group called InPulse that was singing the Anthem at UMN women’s hockey games pretty regularly a few years ago…not sure if they still are. Their arrangement is the best I’ve ever heard – inspiring and respectful. I’m not sure if there’s a version of it on Youtube or not, but it’s worth checking out.

  • Pat

    Twin Cities Women’s Choir version arranged by Mary Bussman is a great arrangement. Hear it at MN Women’s gopher and Lynx Basketball games

  • ChrisD

    I believe you meant the 1983 NBA All-Star Game, Bob. And that is a pretty cool version. But I have to go with the version Jose Feliciano did at the 1968 World Series. That one also got people pretty steamed up.

  • Scott

    I’m not sure where the first time he played it was (Woodstock?) but Jimi Hendrix’s version is the best. Old school meet New school.

  • Bob Collins

    Re: Feliciano. Man, that DID cause a brouhaha. I remember that.

    Here’s a sample.

  • Sam

    Minnesota Boychoir sang the anthems at this Tuesday night’s Twins games, and gave hands down the best renditions of Oh Canada I’ve ever heard in Minnesota. Their Star-Spangled Banner wasn’t bad either…

    Am I the only one who’s bothered when singers sing Star-Spangled Banner in 4/4 time? The piece is in 3. Always has been, always will be. But it seems like nearly half of the people who sing it at sporting events add an extra beat. Drives me nuts…

  • Joy

    Hello! What made Charice’s rendition amazing and extra special is that – she is a 16 year old from the Philippines singing the SSB. She even admitted to her hometown press that she was nervous and this is the 1st time she ever sung the SSB and in front of a very large crowd. For a non-American (who didn’t even sing this song in her elementary days like the others did) and being only 16 in my opinion, she did capture the emotions of the song. You said, you searched youtube. Well then, search again how many times an American (famous artists of not) have butchered this very song. Examples of which are, Michael Bolton, J-hudson, Miley Cyrus or even the great Whitney Houston at the Superbowl. Then you’ll understand why this girl’s rendition is amazing.

  • Enny

    First of all Russell Martin and Joe Torre, where there with the girl when she was singing. And we are just left to hear and watch her on the poor quality youtube videos. And another thing, Marvin Gaye is Marvin Gaye and Smokey is Smokey both men already accomplished artists and beyond Charice’s senior when they sung in the above vids. And most of all, both men are Americans and may have as well been singing and exposed to the U.S. anthem since they were babes.

  • Enny

    Oh and I forgot, I think she sung the song as close to possible as how it could be sung and didn’t feel the need to sing it just to show off vocal abilities. Which she is more than capable of doing so, as shown here in this vid:

    This is just my 2 cents….

  • John

    If not the best, then

    The Best Rendition of the American National Anthem by a Foreigner, LIVE!

    If not, then

    The Best Rendition of the American National Anthem by a Foreigner, LIVE, Under 18!!!!!