Indeed, before Sunday there was already a long tradition of botched national anthems, as the Globe's CultureDesk blog documented today.
So why not change the national anthem to something more singable? Flubs like Aguilera's might be easier to overlook if the difficult-to-sing song was also widely beloved. But it's not. Back in 2001, writers for Slate noticed that after the Sept. 11 attacks, it was "God Bless America," and not the official anthem, that spontaneously emerged as the patriotic tune of choice. They suggested giving "The Star-Spangled Banner" a dignified retirement and adopting a more popular song in its place.
If that ever happened, one of the presumptive candidates would be "America the Beautiful" by Falmouth-born Katharine Lee Bates, a Wellesley College English professor who wrote the lyrics in 1893. The idea supposedly came to her during a trip to Colorado, when she was awed by the vista atop Pike's Peak.
But Alfred Gingold argued in Slate in 2001 that "America the Beautiful" failed what he called the "Casablanca challenge": for all the song's poetic beauty, it's hard to imagine showing up the Nazis at Rick's Cafe with an homage to your "amber waves of grain."
Globe file photo: a statue in Falmouth honoring Katharine Lee Bates, author of "America the Beautiful."