“The Star-Spangled Banner,” our current national anthem, is racist. The thought has emerged recently that maybe a song celebrating the murder of escaped slaves doesn’t need to be America’s official song.
Predictably, White America hasn’t taken the news well. How could the national anthem, a tradition I’ve never given much of a second thought to, be deeply flawed? It’s from a long time ago! Doesn’t that mean it has to be right? Besides, it’s just a song, should changing the national anthem really be the top of our nation’s “to do” list? True, it’s a little bit like Febreezing your clothes instead of washing them, but at least it’s something. It’s not the solution Colin Kaepernick is hoping for, but then again, neither is Blaine Gabbert. Nobody is ever hoping for Blaine Gabbert.
Besides the troubling lyrics and context around the song, “The Star-Spangled Banner” also just sucks as a song. The melody sounds like two monster trucks having sex on a pile of cats and it only works when Whitney Houston performs it at the Super Bowl. If we’re going to make the change, let’s aim for something musically competent this time around.
Let’s look at some of the contenders and rank them based on their likelihood of acceptance.
This song tends to be held up as the ideal choice should we ever move away from “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but if we’re going to make the change, wouldn’t we want something a little fresher and more exciting? It may not be the national anthem, but “America the Beautiful” is definitely a national anthem already. I mean, it’s been sung before almost every Wrestlemania. Sometimes familiarity is as much a burden as it is an aide, you know, like monogamy.
The lyrics to “America the Beautiful” were written by a woman named Katharine Lee Bates, who is not the actress Kathy Bates, but that confusion from the dumbest 10% of Americans will be just enough to prevent this song from reaching the top spot.
Rating: 47 out of 50 stars
This one may be a real heartland pleaser, but Los Angeles-born Lee Greenwood’s synthetic patriotism is essentially the “Wonderful Christmastime” of Fourth of July songs: it’s so corny, over-the-top and jingoistic, it’s hard to hear it outside of the context of fireworks and VFW salute orgies. I don’t think it’s able to make the jump to the big time.
Rating: 25 out of 50 stars
This is what “God Bless the USA” would’ve looked like Lee Greenwood had any interest in melody. This song is creepy, but it’s also catchy, and I think that will be enough to win over a number of states, but not enough to win. (And in a perfectly Trumpian twist, the manager of the USA Freedom Kids has threatened to sue Trump.)
Rating: 33 out of 50 stars
This idea comes from Gabe Carey’s petition, and it is the only time I’ve ever supported something on change.org. The bouncy song from Ted Poley and Tony Harnell is infectious and happy, and it reminds us of Sonic the Hedgehog running and grinding his way through San Francisco. Sonic’s primary colors are blue, red, and Caucasian, but that won’t be enough to convince people to have fun with their anthem choice.
Rating: 8 out of 50 stars
Everyone can agree this song is bitchin’. It’s full of hell yeah corny machismo and it was the entrance song for Hulk Hogan, so already we’re ticking a lot of the boxes an American anthem needs to. It’s easy to imagine soldiers holding hands with blind gran,mas before a big game, singing this in unison. Most of the song is just the phrase “I am a real American” which seems to be the right amount of forthrightness to fit the nation’s character. Here’s the chorus:
I am a real American.
Fight for the rights of every man.
I am a real American.
fight for what’s right, fight for your life!
It’s nice that the lyrics not about being a real American are about trying to be a decent person. That thought never even crossed The Star Spangled Banner’s mind since it was too busy singing about how amazing it was that a flag didn’t get shot.
The only possible downside to this choice is how closely it’s tied to the Hulkster, but then again, that’s also to the song’s benefit: an embarrassing beefy balding blond man aggressively exaggerating his strength and prowess might be the perfect symbol for the country. And real life Hulk just took down Gawker with a lawsuit about a leaked sex tape, eliminating jobs because he was offended. (Oh, and he also got caught saying some pretty damned racist stuff on those leaked tapes, too.) What’s more American than that?
Rating: 49 out of 50 stars
The one thing we can all agree on.
Rating: 50 out of 50 stars and full support from United Nations
Follow Grant on twitter @grantpa.