Alright. If you’ve been living under a rock for the last few days you probably were unaware of the incredible performances we saw on display at the NBA All-Star Weekend. No, I’m not talking about the Dunk Contest or the actual game itself. I’m not even talking about the skills competition or DJ Khaled’s inability to add another one to his Dunk scores. KHALED. YOU CAN’T JUMP OVER A CHALK LINE, BUT YOU’RE GIVING OUT LOW DUNK SCORES. GET REAL.
The real performance came from Fergie, who stepped up to the mic to perform our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Fergie did not disappoint, by kinda disappointing everyone. However, to be fair, I think we’re all being a bit hard on her. Fergie tried and failed to make this song a performance piece, which it is not. But don’t take my word for it. Take a listen:
Ready? Let’s break it down.
Originality – 5 Stars
Originality is an interesting thing to quantify. Most artists try to create original pieces from the jump, straying away from convention and form. What I love about Fergie’s rendition of our Nation’s Fire Jam is that midway through it she’s reached peak originality. No one in the history of singing anthems has done this, will ever be able to recreate this, or should try to.
Fergie broke the mold for Jazz versions of the National Anthem. She broke the mold by tossing it on the floor and all of us stepping all over it. And frankly, after this performance, that’s a service to our country. Do I think that Jazz and the Anthem can ever go together again? I do. I hope they do. However… they might need some space after this.
Actual Skill – 3.8 Stars
I recently got the sheet music to Fergie’s anthem, and it’s a doozy, you guys. It’s all over the place. Rhythm changes, sharps here, flats there, what appears to be a rap section, and just hopes and prayers.
That being said, as a Broadway actor (brushes dust off shoulder directly into mouth), there’s no way I could perform this. If I was given this sheet music and a week to prepare, there’s no way I would even come close. Fergie? She did it on NATIONAL TELEVISION. That’s a level of skill and courage I just don’t think I will ever possess.
Use of Stand Up Bass – 5 Stars
This is a page right out of Michael Scott’s best-selling book Somehow I Manage.
“There is nothing classier than boring Jazz music! I am here to tell ya! And I made a bit of a judgment call. I hired one musician because I thought, what’s better? Hiring an entire quartet for half an hour or one bassist for the entire day?” – Michael Scott
Love the move. LOVE IT. Fergie got a bassist and then was like “I’m essentially gonna do this acapella, FYI.” I’m all for it. It’s constantly reminding you that this is music. A+.
Performance Quality – 1 Star
Here’s my issue, you guys. Fergie should have known that this wasn’t here key. This is just too much. This is vocal gymnastics at an uber-Olympic level. Fergy-Ferg… come on. You knew this wasn’t gonna work out. Don’t even lie to us. How do I know? Here’s Fergie singing the Anthem in 2011 before a Patriots/Dolphins game. (BONUS: A Long Haired Tom Brady!)
Fergie. This was a chance for redemption. Take a page out of Glenn Close’s book and start lower. No one’s gonna judge.
She seems nervous and shaky and unsure. It’s nice knowing we were all on the same page.
Presence of Melody – 1 Star
It’s there. If you listen closely, it’s there. Every so often your ear takes a turn, and goes “wait, what?” and then it slowly finds its way back to the melody. That being said, the melody barely exists. It’s hard to say that it doesn’t, but that’s because it’s a song we all know.
Riff Quality – 1 Star
Shaky. Tentative. Unsure. This is some practice room, first attempt at “My Next Story” from Glory Days, Freshman year stuff. Needed a lot more rehearsal time.
Sounding Like “Fever” by Peggy Lee – 5 Stars
Post-Song Banter – 4 Stars
“Let’s Play Some Basketball!”
A couple of things here.
First off, yes. Yes to this. Let’s INDEED play some basketball. YES. After THAT? Yes. I NEED basketball.
Secondly, they barely play basketball at the NBA All-Star Game. It’s a Harlem Globetrotter show, but with fewer skits embarrassing dads during the timeouts. It’s for posterizing and half court shots. Most All-Star caliber dudes are injured or weren’t voted in.
Thirdly, this is my favorite thing she did. It’s like when someone says “Let’s Eat” after saying grace. NO KIDDING. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WAITING TO WHIP OUT THAT GEM, UNCLE KEVIN? THE WHOLE RIDE OVER? I WAS JUST GONNA TOSS MY PLATE OF FOOD OUT THE WINDOW, BUT THANKS FOR THE SUGGESTION.
Fourthly, from the video from 2011, we know that this is her signature button. She loves yelling what sport we’re watching. It’s Hall of Fame level.
Where do we go from here?
Onward and upward. Fergie gave us something we’ve lacked for the last two years, levity during the National Anthem. For the past two years, there’s been tension at the beginning of every sporting event, because of people’s feelings about the anthem and what it represents. We here at The Turf have always stood by the idea that if America is the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, then you should be free to do whatever you want during the anthem. It’s a moment of reflection, or inward peace, a moment to peacefully protest, and for some, it’s a nice time to use the bathroom because there are no lines.
Fergie let us be shady and exchange side eye looks with each other and that’s the best thing she did for us last weekend.
It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t leave you with the perfect basketball National Anthem. I present to you, Jack Black in a Los Angeles Sparks shirt, singing the Anthem at a WNBA Game in 2011.
And of course, there’s the GREATEST OF ALL TIME.