Tale of the Tape, "Butchered National Anthem" Category: Alexis Normand vs Frank Drebin
Music is a tough business. Thousands of artists are writing and performing tens of thousands of songs every day for little to no wage, trying to strike it big and gain some degree of relevance.
However, in the Darwinian age of the internet, YouTube, iTunes, and a thousand different television channels, sometimes you don't find relevance as much as relevance finds you.
Ask Alexis Normand.
Normand is an aspiring Canadian singer from the province of Saskatchewan. The "Biography" page of her website starts off with this introductory sentence:
Warm folk ambiance soothes the palate while the sweet aftertaste of jazz lingers... Alexis Normand's music is moving and reveals the discreet emotions and touching sensitivity of this young artist.
Normand has around 450 Twitter followers, a sign that she is still knee deep in the "trying to gain relevance" stage of her career. So when the good folks from the Memorial Cup called her to ask her to perform the national anthems of the United States and Canada before the junior hockey championships between the Halifax Mooseheads and Portland Winterhawks Saturday in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, this probably sounded like a great idea.
And for the first 18 words of our anthem, it was. And then she turned the twilight's last gleaming into the twilight's first gleaming, and it all went downhill from there. Observe:
In case anyone from lyrics.com is reading and needs the words from the Normand-ian version of the United States' national anthem, here you go:
Oh say can you see by the dawn's early light What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's la..first gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilah dah... ......[long pause]......
Whose broad stripes and bright stars at the dawn's early light What so remba we say and the twilight's still beaming?
And the rocks are vem vare, the bombs bursting in air ......[pause]..... and the land was still there.
Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave
Not good, and believe me this post isn't meant to pile on poor Alexis Normand, but damn when you sign on to sing a country's national anthem, you have GOT to get it right. Or at least get it a helluva lot more right than Alexis Normand did.
Her barrage of butchered lyrics did get me thinking, though, did Alexis Normand's United States national anthem fall below the "Palazzo Line"? The Palazzo Line, of course, is the semi-subjective benchmark for horrific anthem butcherings set by Leslie Nielsen's "Frank Drebin" character in The Naked Gun when Drebin was impersonating opera singer Enrico Palazzo in signing the national anthem at a California Angels game.
I'm actually kind of fired up to compare these Normand and Drebin, but first we need to get Drebin's lyrics on the record as lyrical accuracy will be a key criteria to determining a "winner" here:
Oh say can you see by the dawn's early light What so proudly we hail in the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose bright stripes and broad stars in the perilous night, In a rampart we wash and a da da da da daaa?
And the rocket's red glare, bunch of bombs in the air Gave proof through the night that we still had our flag.
Oh say does that flag banner wave all.... For the home of the land and the land of the free!
All right, let's go to the scorecard, shall we?
LYRICAL BUTCHERING Drebin mixes up a few words here and there, but even when he badly misfires on the lyrics, he still has the spirit of the stanza correct. (When "our flag was still there," we did "still have our flag," as Drebin astutely points out.) Normand is a hot mess, mixing in pseudo Anglo-Franco mashup words ("And the rocks are vem vare"? What the hell is vem vare??) with long, awkward pauses before eventually the crowd had to help her home, like a parent having to jump in the pool at a swim meet to help a kid who can't perform a second lap of the butterfly stroke (not that that ever happened to me...no, really...). Advantage: DREBIN
VOICE QUALITY Normand's voice positively drips honey compared to the moose call emanating from Drebin's skull. Normand's voice skewering the national anthem, though, is a little like a Krispy Kreme donut in that it's very sweet, but while you're consuming it your joy feels totally guilty and you know it has no redeeming quality. Advantage: NORMAND
CONTRITION After her mangling of the national anthem, Normand took to Twitter to apologize to everyone, and as of Sunday afternoon the tweet had almost as many retweets as Normand had followers:
I'm embarrassed and deeply sorry. I wish I'd had more time to learn the American anthem. Thanks so much for the crowd's help! #memorialcup
— Alexis Normand (@Alex6Normand) May 19, 2013
Drebin, to my knowledge, never did apologize, but he never really had a chance to, what with the police and stadium security chasing him off the field so quickly. Advantage: NORMAND
MITIGATING FACTORS Not only was Drebin trying to foil a plot to kill the queen while singing the anthem, but he's also a fictitious character. Normand is a real person who really destroyed the anthem. HUGE Advantage: DREBIN
VERDICT Neither Alexis Normand nor the fake Enrico Palazzo can hold a candle to my radio co-host John Granato:
Winner: 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio's JOHN GRANATO!
(h/t The Big Lead)
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.