Originally posted on Fusion:
Over the Fourth of July weekend, many Americans will undoubtedly be coerced into singing a drunken rendition of the National Anthem. And understandably so. “The Star-Spangled Banner,” written by Francis Scott Key in 1814 and set to the tune of a popular British song of several decades earlier, is a triumphal, well-loved reminder of our nation’s historical roots.
It is also, objectively, a pretty bad song.
I’m not the first to take issue with “The Start-Spangled Banner.” Last year, Slate made the case against it, pointing out that the song’s extreme difficulty (the range between the highest sung note and the lowest is an octave and a half), its militaristic lyrics, and its bizarre provenance made it an odd choice for a national anthem. Dale McGowan, a professor of music, has made an even more thorough case against the song, which he calls an “aggressive, unsingable, relatively-recently-adopted, ill-constructed descendant of a raunchy bar ballad turned celebration of obscure military stalemate.”
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