Ah, October baseball; we love its crispness and high stakes, especially when the right teams are fighting their way to the top. But a good game can be tainted by its attendant musical performances–those requisite patriotism-stoking warbles of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America”–if the wrong singer is asked to step in.
In recent years, most haven’t been as outwardly sucky as they’ve been sort of “eh.” However, there have been a few completely jaw-dropping performances of recent vintage, and after the jump, we’ll look back at five of them–the inaugural inductees in our “Hey, It’s Enrico Palazzo!” Hall of Fame, named for the opera singer who Leslie Nielsen impersonated in The Naked Gun. Tune in later this week as we look for 2006 playoff-season singers to add to this exalted list, and feel free to suggest other Hall of Fame candidates in comments.
Michael Bolton (“The Star-Spangled Banner,” 2003 American League Championship Series, Game 4): It’s not Bolton’s proto-yarl that garnered him the top spot on this list. No, it’s the fact that, after he forgot the words, he not-so-discreetly tried to peek at his palm, where he’d apparently decided to write down the national anthem’s lyrics in teeny letters.
Steven Tyler (“The Star-Spangled Banner,” 2004 World Series, Game 1): Tyler’s rendition opens with a presumably “classy” harmonica break and stumbles through a lyric or two, but it’s the “Dude Looks Like A Lady”-esque screamy breakdown on the anthem’s climactic “land of the free” line that really takes this to the lousy level.
Liz Phair (“God Bless America,” 2005 World Series, Game 1): To someone, this pairing must have made sense; Game 1 was in Chicago, Phair’s hometown, and she’s spoken about her love of the National Anthem before. But when Phair trills about America being the land that she loves, you wonder if she’s waxing poetic about patriotism … or if she’s working out some long-dormant Sapphic urges.
Scott Stapp(“God Bless America,” 2004 World Series, Game 4): Is it the punctuating breaths? The fact that he seems to have forgotten how to pronounce the “ve” sound in “love”? His introduction as “the voice of Creed”? Or is it just that he’s Scott Stapp, and even when he’s not inflicting his lyrical Jesus complex on the world, he’s still flat and completely insufferable?
Jimmy Buffett (“Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” 2003 NLCS, Game 1): This is what happens when you’re wasting away in Margaritaville and the organist is trapped in Wrigley Field’s friendly confines.
[Graphic courtesy enrico-palazzo.de]