Why the US national anthem is terrible - and perfect

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Vox's Estelle Caswell and Joss Fong debate "The Star Spangled Banner"
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When 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 www.amazon.com/Star-Spangled-Banner-Unlikely-Americas-National/dp/1421415186
Star Spangled Music: starspangledmusic.org/
Slate: Proudly Hailed www.slate.com/articles/arts/music_box/2014/07/the_star_spangled_banner_four_reasons_it_shouldn_t_be_the_national_anthem.html
Emily Cope: medium.com/@emilybcope/music-to-what-extent-does-the-star-spangled-banner-illustrate-how-melody-and-rhythm-influence-the-aff2c78853ed
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: bit.ly/2QCwhMH
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4-Iyl, 2018

vox.comvoxexplainnational anthemstar spangled banneramerican national anthemwhy the national anthem is so hard to singnational anthem voxjuly 4thearwormvox national anthemworst national anthemsbest national anthemsfrancis scott keynational anthem debatejoss fongestelle caswell



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Mening pleylistlarim
Keyinroq ko‘rish
Fikrlar 9 249
Vox 4 oy oldin
If you want to learn more about the anthem, check out this site: 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 www.amazon.com/Star-Spangled-Banner-Unlikely-Americas-National/dp/1421415186/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
Mr.Moisture Loves cats
I really thought it was terrible
Jack Daniels
Jack Daniels 8 kun oldin
Vox thanx .. for your advice... although I am a saudi man I love to listen to the US National Anthem.
I love noodles
I love noodles 28 kun oldin
Vox This is an insult and un American. How dare you!!!!
Toryu-Mau Oy oldin
... So... Git Good? >):^?
General Amsel
General Amsel 2 oy oldin
+Sheratim because simply always complaining how something is racist doesn't do anything, we don't even sing the third verse so why complain about it? Its like complaining about how oh since some of the founding father had slaves that means even though the literally committed high treason against the British crown and proceeded to fight against the strongest army and navy in a the known world, nah since some of them had slaves that just throws that all to the side and doesn't matter.
Stephen Malacaria
I agree, "The Star Spangled Banner" is a pretty bad song. The national anthem should be God Bless America.
AlanaFieldsTV 4 soat oldin
Fergie... that was a fail that won't be forgotten.
Chanel K
Chanel K 8 soat oldin
Why did I think this was talking about the Canadian anthem until I saw the replies of the “why can West Virginia be our national anthem?” Before you ask, this video started when I was in the kitchen getting biscuits and milk without my iPad
xoxo xoxo
xoxo xoxo 9 soat oldin
how comes the music expert can't even sing in tune
its mary
its mary 11 soat oldin
Alex Black
Alex Black 12 soat oldin
If we had an anthem like the French, people would protest the lyrics
Chuck Wieser
Chuck Wieser 23 soat oldin
And most importantly, this song does not rejoice in the death of slaves owned by the British. It glorifies the sacrifice of hired workers and slaves that died trying to keep the American flag up while the British killed them for wanting to honor their country. Thanks for lying to us and trying to continually destroy America.
Downward Spiral
Downward Spiral Kun oldin
I think that if the creator of the American anthem found-out through time travel that the most popular version of the American anthem ever produced was sung by a black women, he would have an aneurysm. Atleast, he hope we would.
Tony F
Tony F Kun oldin
The secret is to have soulful black person sing it
Eric Claeyborn
Eric Claeyborn Kun oldin
The national anthem for the U.S.A. should be America the Beautiful. It just might repair some American hearts. The Star Spangled Banner is really worthless... and the tune is from a beer drinking song (that's what I heard).
airi Kun oldin
I know the whole american anthem because i watched THAT episode of victorious too much. im european.
Maskless Is This
Gross song
Paul Harts
Paul Harts Kun oldin
May I suggest welcome to the black parade?
"America the Beautiful" should be the National Anthem.
Skippy Bean
Skippy Bean 2 kun oldin
"It's descriptive and phrased weirdly" It was a freaking poem, what do you expect
Skippy Bean
Skippy Bean 2 kun oldin
Ummm. I can sing it. I don't scream
MiniWaterWolf YT
MiniWaterWolf YT 2 kun oldin
Yes it is you doo doo.
Andreus Triant
Andreus Triant 2 kun oldin
Just more of vox’s anti American propaganda, trying to kill what is left of America’s pride
Ryan Anderson
Ryan Anderson 2 kun oldin
When you’ll do anything to slam America
Dukhanstmichmal 2 kun oldin
Lets be honest here. The US anthem is one of the most crap anthems in the world. Not only doesnt it sound pleasant or have any real structure to it - its also not even iconic apart from the first 3 seconds. If you listen to the anthems of Russia, France, Germany, Italy or the UK in comparison, the US one just seems cheap and not really thought through.
Some nerd 157
Some nerd 157 2 kun oldin
The national anthem should be Africa
black and silver diamond
Millinials have respect for nothing.
Helen Gilbert
Helen Gilbert 3 kun oldin
I don't wanna be ~that guy~ but for a vocal student hearing that people think the national anthem is hard??? Go listen to the Girl in 14G, or... any aria ever. Then come back and tell me an octave and a half is too big.
Luke Losinski
Luke Losinski 3 kun oldin
This is fairly simple on a instrument to play
Bob Fischer
Bob Fischer 3 kun oldin
Wait. Seriously? I realize this is about the vocal challenge of the song, but, really? You're not going to mention the greatest rendition of the song ever, even though it was instrumental? Harrrummpff. *shakes fist* "you kids get off my lawn!" *goes to load up the Hendrix version from Woodstock*
Enda Reddan
Enda Reddan 3 kun oldin
The Irish national anthem
Patrick Nilan
Patrick Nilan 3 kun oldin
No the star spangled banner is PERFECT, ABSOLUTELY AMAZINGLY PERFECT! The ONLY, let me say ONLY EVIDENCE of this anyone needs to give a skeptic is playing Whitney Houston at the Super Bowl! BOOM, micdrop!
James Scott
James Scott 3 kun oldin
It’s not about slaves 🙄
Palamedes 3 kun oldin
good news everyone 2:55
Q400fan 3 kun oldin
Title is a lil misleading
Will Stehlik
Will Stehlik 4 kun oldin
I’m sorry but Lady Gaga?
PewEE 4 kun oldin
Klay:why did she do that Lady:old song son Klay:it 2018 not 1765 Lady:right 😀😀😀😀😀😀😀
Jakeliciousdragon 4 kun oldin
Francis Scott Key wrote the words of the Star Spangled Banner and chose the tune so... we can't really complain. It's not that hard, people just don't try and they think too much. Plus it's worded weirdly because it is written back in the old days. We should not change it. I can sing it right and have the words memorized. You guys are just big sore baby losers.
Heisted 4 kun oldin
Russia has a way better one anyways. Tbh it’s the best one. And yes I know Its so incredibly biased because I am from Russia and Russian is my first language.
Puggy WoofWoof
Puggy WoofWoof 4 kun oldin
petition to change the national anthem to national anthem by lana del rey
The Joe Show
The Joe Show 4 kun oldin
Rock cover anyone?
the sinnoh trainer
the sinnoh trainer 4 kun oldin
It's actually not that hard to sing when you've heard it so many times
Anouchka 4 kun oldin
I’m Canadian and I know the whole star spangled banner better than my American friends.
The Grey Jedi
The Grey Jedi 5 kun oldin
Our choir sang this for a Houston rockets game we put it in 4-part (soprano,alto,tenor,bass) it sounded amazing
DSLR Video Shooter
DSLR Video Shooter 5 kun oldin
It is a great song. Also I heard Canada is accepting new people.
Logan Lucky
Logan Lucky 5 kun oldin
What nobody is talking about is the historical context. It was originally a poem and it is about the strength of America to persevere. Some of the wording isn’t great because it was a poem written by a soldier who whiteness the first hope of America actually being able to work.
Jasmine VanRegenmortel
I vote that Marilyn Manson’s “We’re from America” should be the new national anthem, should we choose to change it.
Ash Westbrook
Ash Westbrook 5 kun oldin
Um... what are notes, and what's from with 13 or whatever we have?
The Best Galaxy
The Best Galaxy 5 kun oldin
US Air Force Nerd
US Air Force Nerd 5 kun oldin
Deric Cheah
Deric Cheah 5 kun oldin
Malaysia anthem is da best.
Jimsy 5 kun oldin
Lyrics about Congreve's rockets set to the tune of an English drinking song... what a choice for a national anthem...
Prod. by MiB
Prod. by MiB 5 kun oldin
That's why you sing it in monotone.
memes are my life
memes are my life 5 kun oldin
See this is why I play an instrument I’ll be fine.
PieSauruS 5 kun oldin
“How can we be edgy and political”
sofiaa johnn
sofiaa johnn 5 kun oldin
i rlly dont think it's respectful of ppl to make "covers" of the national anthem, it's composed in a specific way,, just let it be
Penelope Hunt
Penelope Hunt 6 kun oldin
It's a kak cuntry, kak anthem . Totally useless place
Thieving Peppers
Thieving Peppers 6 kun oldin
I had to sing this everyday in school
Anson Hu
Anson Hu 6 kun oldin
7:31 the reason why they booed is because American don’t like change, they really don’t like it. And when Jose feliciano sang the anthem in a different way, some people took it personally because they don’t like change they really don’t like it (Americans). I’m sorry if this is offensive but this is true for most places.
The Turts
The Turts 6 kun oldin
the national anthem don't even slap
Nathaniel Eli
Nathaniel Eli 6 kun oldin
“America, The Beautiful” COULD be a good alternative for the national anthem. Edit: I was rewatching this and Matt Farnsworth says that “oo” is a vowel. Huh😂
Nicole & Ethan Miller
Love your videos, could you please site significant video quotations in your extended description? "Further reading" is great, but we're all on youtube watching videos... thanks!
monoceros1222 7 kun oldin
Lyrics are great because because there are only 3 sentences: The first sentence questions whether the flag still waves in the particular battle; the second sentence demonstrates the strength of America; and the third again, and appropriately, calls to the future , questioning whether we have managed to remain the land of the free and the home of the brave!
pilotdrums 7 kun oldin
you're supposed to sing it in your octave range not 3 above it
One piece and sonic fan
i wonder what skylar grey would sound like
Tomlin Suttles
Tomlin Suttles 7 kun oldin
You guys are insulting us Americans
Maggie Jones
Maggie Jones 7 kun oldin
America, The Beautiful but with "And Sisterhood" (Cue Renee Elise Goldsberry, Phillipa Soo and Jasmine Cephas Jones) and we have ourselves a lovely anthem.
Hurley Sim
Hurley Sim 7 kun oldin
Hey Vox, does this mean Bel Canto repertoire is also terrible?
Jacob :D
Jacob :D 7 kun oldin
Y’all think this is bad but the Panem anthem is only high notes.
Donna Ortega
Donna Ortega 7 kun oldin
I feel very offended.
jonathan abraham
jonathan abraham 7 kun oldin
I'm not American but the Dixie chicks did the perfect rendition of your anthem
Nico Enerlan
Nico Enerlan 7 kun oldin
When they showed Fergie I was dead 😂😂😵
MAHNEHMISRED 7 kun oldin
Bence Pál
Bence Pál 7 kun oldin
This video/idea was stolen from Adam Neely check out the original!
Lauren Zefania
Lauren Zefania 7 kun oldin
I'm from Indonesia. Hey you guys had to hear our national anthem. The range is 9 and a half full notes, sounds so good.
You guys should talk about why the anthem won't change. Its difficulty makes it so emotional. It's one of the few anthems that will reduce you to tears. I'm not even American.
Russian Bias
Russian Bias 8 kun oldin
French National Anthem English Translation: Our hands are raised please dont shoot, the white flag flies high. The Rifles hit the ground, Mighty Maginot has been out flanked.
Matsya Manuel
Matsya Manuel 8 kun oldin
Jimi Hendrix is laughing in his tomb.
Maybe Me
Maybe Me 8 kun oldin
'O Canada Our home and native land, True patriot love, in all of us command With glowing hearts we see thee rise, True North strong and free From far and wide, 'O Canada, we stand on guard for the God keep our land glorious and free 'O Canada we stand on guard for thee 'O Canada we stand on guard for thee
emily 8 kun oldin
2:38 y'all don't sing your anthem every morning at school?
molly sandweiss
molly sandweiss 8 kun oldin
France’s anthem talks about the “blood of the impure” so.....
chang bin Yu
chang bin Yu 8 kun oldin
so thats why soviet national anthem always win my comrade
lagooned 8 kun oldin
this was structured really weird
Senior Avocado
Senior Avocado 8 kun oldin
The Philippine song is easy
Charles Seigfried Clark Stephen
(Find Wintey Houston singing the Star-Spangled Banner. Comment’s “What if we told you that that mike was not on.” - Vox July 4, 2018)
Victor Walker
Victor Walker 9 kun oldin
Happy Feelings!
THE JRO 9 kun oldin
@vox MORE EARWORM!!!!!! Please!
What's Good World
What's Good World 9 kun oldin
Nothings wrong with the anthem. Don’t be mad because you can’t sing it
Azure Wing
Azure Wing 9 kun oldin
5 million guys and girls!
Seablian 9 kun oldin
We need to return to Hail Columbia
jax1492 9 kun oldin
so unamerican
Blaze Granillo
Blaze Granillo 9 kun oldin
Because this dumb people doesnt know Guatemala's anthem, its so hard to sing it, im in a very important guatemalan chorus and even being a soprano its hard to hit the highest notes
Brandon Chan
Brandon Chan 9 kun oldin
what if my country has this song for national anthem , i have a heart attack on assembly , because we have to sing it on assembly,luckily i dont have to sing this before school assembly .
Bat Man
Bat Man 10 kun oldin
Should ave picked a different titles for this video. Should be why we ripped off a British Drinking Song for our national anthem! Do a search on Google videos for : To Anacreon in Heaven
Kaitlyn Proulx
Kaitlyn Proulx 10 kun oldin
Cause natural notes are hard to play... Accidentals are everywhere in music :/
Allison Olson
Allison Olson 10 kun oldin
Fergie should listen to Whitney Houston sing the Star Spangled Banner
Daniel Jackson
Daniel Jackson 10 kun oldin
christina’s NBA performances are simply majestic, note perfect, pitch, tone and timbre. Amazing. Beyoncé and Whitney too 😝
Erikazz_Gaming 10 kun oldin
Soviet anthem will be the best forever cyka
Fellow Jack Nation
Fellow Jack Nation 10 kun oldin
I really don’t get the point you’re trying to make about why it’s bad....
Karlo Domančić
Karlo Domančić 10 kun oldin
How they don't know their athem words i know mine words
Somedudelol 10 kun oldin
*when you cant sing*
Robotic Phsycotic
Robotic Phsycotic 11 kun oldin
-y'all act like skips don't exist in other songs -two octaves in not at all a stretch. any singer with an ounce of formal experience should have that range, especially women -sorry fam but if you can't remember the words that's ur own fucken fault -"oh there's a verse abt slaves!" that isn't included in the anthem "and it's written by a slaveholder and the words r just too confusing :((" i mean that also describes the constitution
Big_Lenny v1
Big_Lenny v1 11 kun oldin
Why vox is terrible
Ryan Manheimer
Ryan Manheimer 11 kun oldin
Adam Neely did this same video an entire year ago. uzvid.com/video/video-TI7nhSIuHg4.html