Why the US national anthem is terrible — and perfect

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  • Published on:  Wednesday, July 4, 2018
  • Vox's Estelle Caswell and Joss Fong debate "The Star Spangled Banner"Subscribe to our channel! http://goo.gl/0bsAjOWhen Francis Scott Key attached his poem about the War of 1812 to a popular British song called "To Anacreon in Heaven," he kicked off over 200 years of painfully bad singing by patriotic Americans. The Star Spangled Banner became the official national anthem of the United States in 1931, but it had been used by the Army and Navy for decades before that and was popular from the start. One big problem? The melody wasn't exactly written for the masses, but for trained soloists. Commentators pointed out early on that it was exceedingly difficult for most people to sing, suggesting that "America the Beautiful" might be a better alternative. Critics have noted that the music requires a uniquely wide vocal range, it's full of tricky intervals, and the lyrics are confusing and uninspiring. But if you look at the national anthem as a sport, where we get to watch performers at the top of their game tackle the gauntlet that is the Star Spangled Banner, you may come to appreciate it. In this video, we debate whether the difficulty of the Star Spangled Banner is a feature or a bug for a national anthem.Further reading:Star-Spangled Banner: The Unlikely Story of America's National Anthem https://www.amazon.com/Star-Spangled-...Star Spangled Music: http://starspangledmusic.org/Slate: Proudly Hailed http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/mu...Emily Cope: https://medium.com/@emilybcope/music-...Some songs don't just stick in your head, they change the music world forever. Join Estelle Caswell on a musical journey to discover the stories behind your favorite songs.Check out the entire Vox Earworm playlist here: http://bit.ly/2QCwhMHAnd follow Vox Earworm on Facebook for more: http://www.facebook.com/VoxEarwormVox.com is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out http://www.vox.com Check out our full video catalog: http://goo.gl/IZONyEFollow Vox on Twitter: http://goo.gl/XFrZ5HOr on Facebook: http://goo.gl/U2g06o
  • Source: https://youtu.be/cdl8p9akJJw


  • Vox

     1 years ago

    If you want to learn more about the anthem, check out this site: http://starspangledmusic.org/blog/ They're obsessed with the Star Spangled Banner and have tons of interesting facts and videos. This book by Marc Ferris is also really interesting https://www.amazon.com/Star-Spangled-Banner-Unlikely-Americas-National/dp/1421415186/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

  • bryce the person

     1 months ago

    I can sing it pretty well and know the national anthem by heart then again im in an after school group that includes singing sorry if this sounds like im bragging im not trying to

  • lilli luna

     1 months ago

    Oh hey, at list your isn't the Italian's :)

  • Menace Man

     11 months ago

    “All Star” by Smashmouth is the unofficial anthem

  • Bubblelene Lene

     18 hours ago

    Unrelated but I love your profile pic

  • Ghifar Azka

     11 days ago

    It's the *Earth* anthem

  • thejiddy

     3 months ago

    "America loves watching people publicly failed".Wow.

  • Junko :D

     3 days ago

    thejiddy Ikr

  • AnnoyinglySalty

     8 days ago

    Nick Walker oh Jesus Christ get over it

  • Quinn Reverance

     3 months ago

    Amazing when sung by a proffesional, torture when sung by an average american

  • 2016 Toyota Corolla

     3 days ago

    Amazing if sung by me

  • Burgeonite

     2 months ago

    Also is terrible if sung by a crowd at a sports game.

  • Felix Rewer

     7 months ago

    6:54 He's blind and sings "Oh, say can you see?"ironic

  • eeskaatt

     19 days ago

    i laughed so hard at this xD

  • Timmy Le

     25 days ago

    @Putthatinur Pipe It's ironic.

  • Démian García

     3 months ago

    I'm gonna sing the Spanish anthem for you......... Did you like it?

  • ö ü

     3 days ago


  • Bloop massacre

     14 days ago

    @mustafa al falahi 😭😂


     3 months ago

    Fun fact: The National Anthem ends with a question mark.

  • Rudwíl John Amaro


    *And The Home Of the Brave?*


     29 days ago

    @Andrew Cooper people forget about the fourth stanza which is the best in my opinion. And like you said, it ends in a statement that our banner will stand triumphantly over our country.

  • unknown unknown

     3 months ago

    6:57 was actually a good version of the anthem (in my opinion)

  • Ethan James

     7 days ago

    @A little bit Bi with a hint of gayness it's all America's fault because they declared the war in Vietnam. So, Jose should not be jeered.

  • Mc Water

     28 days ago

    It was America who declared war in Vietnam so yes it was unfair for Jose to be ridiculed

  • Fenix03

     4 months ago

    Whitney Houston's performance will always be the greatest rendition of the anthem. no questions asked.

  • Jerry Smbxworld™

     11 days ago

    I agree. Whitney is queen.

  • Air Cloud

     1 months ago

    @Madison Green Heh?

  • 『リアカミ』Ria Kami

     3 months ago

    if someone outside indonesia asks, "how often do you sing your national anthem?""every single week"edit: i mean my school sing it every day before class, on monday ceremony we sing 1/3 of it and 2 other song, then the rest of the week before class we sing the full song and one other song, oops

  • Narajiナラジ

     3 days ago

    I don't even remember the full anthem lyrics

  • leosrose

     6 days ago

    @Bintang Nicholas so our national anthem is also that hard...? Whoa😮