There’s a performance of The Star-Spangled Banner that tops Jimi at Woodstock, Marvin Gaye at the NBA All-Star Game, and even Whitney at Super Bowl XXV, and it took place at some sort of fund drive for a Christian broadcasting network based in Dallas

Is this cheesy? Lord yes. Is it also God damn glorious? Yup. That’s at least 50 dudes singing in rich, rich harmony and, most impressively, it’s crisp and together. Let’s break down why this should be surgically implanted into the brain of every American:

0:01 – Excellent 15-second background on the poem.

0:17 – That guy has the creepiest beard possible for his face and accent, and I respect that. No hair whatsoever below his bottom lip? That’s a cultivated look, friends.

0:28 – Low-budget star technology with sound effects!

0:30 – Here’s our first clue that this is the best rendition around: it’s being sung at the right speed. Neither the tune (“To Anacreon In Heav’n”) nor the poem (“Defence of Fort McHenry”) merit the solemn, reflective, dragging-ass tempi we’ve grown accustomed to. This is drinking music and fighting words.

0:38 – I mean, look at the enthusiasm on the faces of this merry chorus of white men of advancing age! That guy with the glasses and the dark hair looks like a real-life puppet, and I mean that in a very good way.

0:45 – That’s not a black dude, is it?

1:00 – “I really think you’d be well-served with $100,000 of coverage. Let me see here, 35 years old, non-smoker…………..I can get you to 100 for only $17 per month.”

1:02 – Puppet guy is truly moved by the rocket’s red glare.

1:12 – That dude in the middle with the beard looks like the cartoon spokesman for a budget vodka, and I also mean that in a very good way.

1:25 – Oh shit, that’s definitely a black dude! He doesn’t look out of place at all. “Ron, let’s get you right down front here. Perfect!”

1:35 – Our first real dip into the world of barbershop arrangements, mixing it up a little bit on “land of the free.” That young guy looks so earnest. He’s gonna propose to his high-school sweetheart after the church youth group picnic this very evening!

1:45 – Group glissando!

1:51 – Barbershop tag ending on “America!”

1:56 – Aaaaaaaa………

1:59 – MERICA! OH SHIT! THEY’RE RAISING THEIR ARMS FOR REASONS I DON’T UNDERSTAND!

2:01 – THE CONDUCTOR IS FACING US AND SPREADING HIS HANDS LIKE EAGLE’S WINGS! CHRIST ALMIGHTY, LIKE FUCKING EAGLE’S WINGS!

2:07 – LORD OF THE GOD DAMNED NATIONS, A FUCKING HAND FLOURISH!!!!!!!!!!

2:09 – The star returns, mercilessly and pitilessly destroying everything in its path. We all died with red-blooded patriotism in our hearts.

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4 thoughts on “There’s a performance of The Star-Spangled Banner that tops Jimi at Woodstock, Marvin Gaye at the NBA All-Star Game, and even Whitney at Super Bowl XXV, and it took place at some sort of fund drive for a Christian broadcasting network based in Dallas

  1. Nice performance. And I agree with your comments on the tempo.

  2. If you know barbershop, you know the group Vocal Majority. There’s a rule in the barbershop society competition that a chorus can’t compete for two years after a win. So if you win the chorus competition in 2012, the next time you can compete isn’t until 2015. Vocal Majority wins every time they compete (apparently there was an upset sometime in the late 2000’s but anyway). They’re the best, and honestly this is probably one of the least inspired performances of theirs I’ve ever heard.

  3. I know Vocal Majority, but I didn’t know this was one of their least inspired performances. Agree to disagree on that one. I’m not surprised to learn they win the shit out of competitions though. Thanks for the added perspective!

  4. Yes sir, that is the VOCAL MAJORITY. THE BARBERSHOP HARMONY SOCIETY’S most awesome chorus. They are an heralded Texas tradition. As a decades long BARBERSHOP singer myself AND former Director for one of their choruses in the Pacific Northwest, I can assure anyone in the cyberworld that their rendition is flawless. I loved your play by play analysis of the performance. And yes, that was one Black man in the group. You will not see tons of Black guys in these choruses. While BARBERSHOP style, or accapella singing is the hallmark of all Black Gospel, Blues, Jazz, etc. this style we listen to here screams “White guy wrote the arrangement”. Let a Black Group perform the National Anthem. I promise you’ll be snapping your fingers on beats 2 and 4 and improvising your own melisma solo.

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