“So JC, as a professional musician, I’d like to get your opinion of the gal who sang the national anthem during the inauguration today?”
I’m glad you asked. From one POV, it was completely appropriate: both gaudy and over the top.
“That seems a bit harsh. Can you give me a specific example?”
Sure. Take the long note on the word ‘free’ in the last stanza. It’s sung on the fifth note of the scale. But whenever you hear the singer use that as a springboard to jump up to the tonic (4 steps higher)? 9 times out of 10 they’ve jumped the shark.
Now if yer in the band, you’ll explicitly wonder, “Is she going to GO FOR IT?”… meaning, is she going to try that show-off maneuver. And speaking frankly? We’re kinda hoping for a truly ‘epic fail’. It helps us maintain attention.
But of course the audience also unconsciously wonders exactly the same thing–in the same way that people at a NASCAR race will secretly wonder if the driver is about to hit the wall going into the final hair-raising turn. Or maybe it’s like being at a Greek party in college and you’re encouraging some poor fool to CHUG-A-LUG, CHUG-A-LUG that whole quart of beer. Total schadenfreude. If yer human, down deep, you cannot help but root for the flaming crash. A part of you wants the singer to have a complete humiliation for having the GALL to attempt such tasteless showboating. As the ancient Greek gods punished anyone with hubris.
“Yes, but she didn’t crash and burn. She hit that note pretty clean, didn’t she?”
Point taken. However, this is not the Magic Flute and she is not playing Queen Of The Night. Whether you hit that note or not, irrelevant. The moment you try, you’re guilty of high crimes.
Like I said… because the moment you engage in any gymnastics like that? You’re saying to the audience, “Look at me!” and taking attention away from the song. And in this case, when people are supposed to be engaged in the most profound reverie about their nation and the transfer of power? Making it about you is musical malpractice.
“Thanks for setting me straight.”
That’s what I’m here for.