Photo by Jon Curnow courtesy of Flickr

So I’ve been watching a lot of the Olympic Games this year, and like always, America is doing pretty well taking home the medals (back off, China). You know the drill: whoever wins gold (we’ve won 28 at this point, by the way) stands in the middle and gets to mouth the words of his or her national anthem to the instrumental background while choking back tears. But it got me thinking how much more eventful these medal ceremonies would be if we had a musician sing the lyrics at every medal ceremony. Sure, we all like a solid version of “The Star-Spangled Banner”, but we secretly hope someone butchers it and forgets the lyrics so we can snicker and feel a little bit better about our less accomplished selves. Americans don’t have the best track record of performing the national anthem, so I doubt it will ever happen so as not to create an even worse name for us internationally. But in case you’re bored listening to the same lyric-less version, here are some of the best worst (yes, that made sense) renditions of our nation’s anthem.

  1. When country cutie Luke Bryan got the gig to sing our nation’s anthem at the 2012 All Star game, he made like a seventh grader with a sparkly gel pen and scribbled a cheat sheet on his hand. So sly, Mr. Bryan. At the 0:35 mark, watch as he looks down at the scribble on his hand to make sure he doesn’t mess up the most butcher-able verses. And if that wasn’t noticeable enough, he does it again at 50 seconds.
  2. Between the sexual harassment accusations and the “Locked in The Closet” mini-series, R. Kelly has lost respect on many different levels. And this national anthem performance in 2006 doesn’t help his case to be taken seriously at all. To his credit, he didn’t miss a line, but somehow the whole thing was a miss.
  3. Harper Gruzins is not a household name. But after this opening performance for the FC Dallas vs. Los Angeles Galaxy MLS match, she will be. Honestly, this is the worst version I’ve ever heard, but I feel too bad saying that about a little girl with a big red bow in her hair.
  4. What do you do if you’re Kat DeLuna and want to sing like one of the greats but don’t have the vocals to do so? Just flail your arms and wave your fingers around in the air to try and distract the audience from the vocal KATastrophe.
  5. It’s only appropriate to end with a performance of a former Olympian and gold medalist who thought that because he’s better than most at a lot of things he’d be better at everything. I could only find a 30 second clip of his rendition for an NBA game, but unfortunately, 30 seconds is enough.

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