Grantland is saying that actress/singer Zooey Deschanel sang the “least-inspired National Anthem ever” before game 4 of the World Series last night. They saw no passion in her version. They wanted to hear the sounds of Â “a woman who has known loss and triumph, not the pubescent squeaks of a flinching sitcom star with cute bangs and a stupid blog.”
Then their No. 1 suggestion for singers who should be on standby for National Anthem duties is Brian McKnight. Really? I can’t stand the kind of vocal acrobatics that he and singers of his ilk like to put to the Star-Spangled Banner. Have we learned nothing from Christina Aguilera’s catastrophe of a performance at the Super Bowl? (And I”m not talking about any lyrical mistakes she made, just the horrid affectations she added to note after note.)
I was at Rangers Ballpark for Game 4 last night, and loved the sense of melancholy with which Deschanel infused the familiar song. It felt almost like a funeral dirge, and I mean that as a high compliment. It was quite different from what we normally get at these games: when some mid-level country music or top 40 star is trotted out for a serviceable, but instantly forgettable, performance.
No, Deschanel didn’t deliver a triumphant version of the song, like this fantastic Whitney Houston performance. Â But what she gave us was unique and perfectly appropriate to lyrics that were, after all, written during an uncertain time of war.