Christina Aguilera Leads Pack of Notorious National Anthem Singers

Christina Aguilera is the latest singer to mess up "The Star Spangled Banner."

Feb. 7, 2011 — -- "Oh, say can you ... wait, what's my line?"

Christina Aguilera cemented herself in the annals of national anthem atrocities on Sunday night. Singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" to kick off the Super Bowl between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, Aguilera messed up the line, "O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming," repeating an earlier line of the song that she also botched.

Aguilera sang "What so proudly we watched at the twilight's last gleaming" instead of the correct lyric, which begins "What so proudly we hailed."

The Internet pounced. Criticism of Aguilera's performance flooded Twitter, Facebook and blogs. She was almost as quick to apologize, releasing a statement Sunday night that said "I got so caught up in the moment of the song that I lost my place. I can only hope that everyone could feel my love for this country and that the true spirit of its anthem still came through."

Fret not, Aguilera: you're far from the first star to lose herself in America's anthem.

In 2009, pop singer Jesse McCartney skipped multiple verses of "The Star Spangled Banner" while performing at a NASCAR event in California. He took to Twitter to apologize: "Here At the Nascar race! So much fun! Can't believe I forgot the words to the Anthem! I've performed it 100 times. Bad Nerves today I guess."

Michael Bolton crooned a cringe-worthy version of the anthem at Boston's Fenway Park in 2003. At one point, he broke from his overly passionate performance to look at crib notes scrawled on his hand.

In 1993, Olympic champion Carl Lewis caused a chorus of boos when his voice broke in the middle of his "Star Spangled Banner" performance. He told the crowd he'd "make up for it" but went on to butcher the remainder of the song.

But the title of most offensive anthem singer ever -- earned intentionally, not accidentally -- probably goes to Roseanne Barr. At a 1990 San Diego Padres game, the comedienne sang a squawky, off-key version of "The Star Spangled Banner" and peppered her performance by grabbing her crotch and pretending to spit.

To avoid the often likely possibility of flubs, event organizers sometimes have singers lip-sync the national anthem to a pre-recorded track, as Super Bowl producers did with Jennifer Hudson in 2009. Critics call for greater reform: some have suggested replacing "The Star Spangled Banner" -- which has been the national anthem since 1931 -- with a simpler song, like "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" or "America the Beautiful."

But considering that the debate about changing the national anthem would drag on longer than the most overwrought rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner," perhaps a little more practice is all that's necessary for Aguilera and her ilk.

"It is a tough assignment to get to sing that," said Robert Thompson, professor of popular culture at Syracuse University. "It's got a challenging range and if you do mess up, it's hard to slip back into it. The syntax of 'The Star Spangled Banner' does not allow for that."