Every year, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is held in order to display the latest and greatest in right-wing American absurdity. As if in response to a few months of political setbacks, 2021's conference has amped up the malignant ridiculousness to incredible new heights. First there was the Nazi-evoking stage design. Then there was the Mexican-made Golden Trump statue. While these two choices were more than enough on their own, this year’s CPAC decided to really round everything off with one of the most astonishingly incompetent performances of the national anthem to date.
A video from the event shows this exceptional version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” being belted out by a singer who’s decided that she’s been held back by traditional musicality for too long. Her voice swings into different keys with wild abandon, seeming to switch with every new verse into unexpected new ranges. Standing beneath a rippling flag, CPAC logo, and this year’s motto—”America Uncanceled”—the singer leans into horribly flat notes, sometimes wiggling with uncontrolled vibrato, as if daring the crowd to turn on her.
Naturally, videos of people sitting at pianos accompanying the singer’s avant-garde, atonal interpretation of the anthem have already popped up to help highlight the performance’s failure. They’re funny, but barely necessary when the original, untouched clip is so good on its own.
Listening to the crowd loudly cheer on one the singer’s confidently mangled notes toward the end of the performance, we can’t help but wonder if there’s a metaphor in all of this. But, no, that’s probably just our imagination.
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