If you had to sidestep any riots or brothers killing brothers on your way to work today, it’s because yesterday our fragile unity was torn asunder by yet another shaky rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the song that is so often to American sporting events as “My Way” is to karaoke bars in the Philippines. This time the culprit was Steven Tyler, who donned his sparkliest New England Patriots scarf and the hides of his most beloved cats to serenade his home team before they faced the Baltimore Ravens. And while the locals cheered, the slightly more sober Internet mostly booed, nitpicking lyrical flubs, throwing the word “butchered” around with abandon, and hoisting him with his own American Idol petard.
Of course, the reaction was fairly tame compared to the outcry over Tyler’s performance of the National Anthem at the 2001 Indianapolis 500, which came preceded by a honkin' harmonica solo and ended with Tyler changing “home of the brave” to “home of the Indianapolis 500,” thereby leaving America vulnerable to terrorist attack. But even though most would look at the following video and say Steven Tyler delivered exactly the performance one would expect from Steven Tyler (2011 edition), the dissenting opinion can more or less be summed up by the face Bill Belichick makes around 0:15. And thus, the nation is divided over whether we will ever again sing in harmony, or remain broken in screechy discord, unable to hit those high notes like we used to. At least, until Madonna’s Super Bowl performance reunites us in a glorious chorus of making fun of Madonna.