Steven Tyler’s pitchy National Anthem: unacceptable or just how he sings?

We’ve heard singers botch the words to the National Anthem, we’ve seen them forget the words, and we’ve heard them deliberately butcher what should be a serious song paying tribute to our nation’s history. Well Steven Tyler sang the National Anthem at The Patriots Ravens playoffs Sunday and he sounded like he was doing an Aerosmith ballad. He even did a little vocal riff for “Land of the Free.” The crowd was both booing and cheering, so I guess it’s safe to say he got a mixed reception.

Steven Tyler took some heat Sunday after singing an off-kilter, screechy version of The Star-Spangled Banner before an NFL playoff game between the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens in Foxborough, Mass.

The crowd at the game began heckling the American Idol judge, 63, as he worked his way through the national anthem, missing notes and flubbing lyrics.

He sang “as bomb bursting in air” instead of “the bombs bursting in air” and “oh the land of the free” instead of “o’er the land of the free.”

ESPN analyst Skip Bayless spoke for many when he Tweeted: “How could Patriots be inspired by that awful Anthem sung by Steven Tyler? At least give him some screaming guitars to camouflage voice.”

The journalist and humorist Greg Gutfeld added: “i went outside to put a raccoon out of its misery – then i realized my neighbor was watching Steven Tyler sing the Star-Spangled Banner.”

Others felt that the frontman of Boston-based Aerosmith was just being himself. “I’m not understanding the people who say Steven Tyler ‘butchered’ the national anthem,” wrote one of his fans on Twitter. “He sang as he always does … what were you expecting?”

[From People]

Some of the YouTube comments note that this is just how Steven sings, and that it was decent to awesome. Others say it was bad and disrespectful, and mention that Steven did screw up the lyrics. He sang “And the rockets’ red glare, as bombs bursting in air.” The real line is “And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,” but it’s a very minor difference and not what the crowd was responding to. (People claims he sang “Oh the land of the free,” but I didn’t hear that, I thought he said “O’er.”) One commenter noted that it was more disrespectful for the crowd to boo the Anthem than for Steven to sing it like classic rock. Personally I wouldn’t be offended by this, but I’m not a sports-goer by any means. People who are true sports fans take the Anthem very seriously.

Note: as I was looking for photos to include with this story, I came across these recent pictures of Steven Tyler shirtless and I actually shuddered.

Steven is shown on 9-23-11, 12-12, 12-13, and 12-14-11 (outside Idol.) Credit: FameFlynet

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64 Responses to “Steven Tyler’s pitchy National Anthem: unacceptable or just how he sings?”

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  1. TheOriginalKitten says:

    Everyone I know who was at the game said Steven Tyler was great. Yeah it was pitchy at points but the dude is a rock singer ya know? BTW, we’re all thanking Billy Cundiff over here ;)

  2. Gwen says:

    I’m not an American but at least he could stay on tune. To me he sounded ok.

  3. Asli says:

    Waaaaauw, someone’s stuck in the 80′s. He needs a stylist, desperately.

  4. SamiHami says:

    Not nearly as awful as I thought it would be based on all the criticism I’ve been hearing. He was not being disrespectful and he sang the way Steven Tyler sings. What did they expect?

    • TJ says:

      I thought the same thing SamiHami. He is a PERFORMer, not a SINGer. He “sings” just like he speaks. What were they expecting? I fault anyone who expected any different.

  5. RocketMerry says:

    I don’t think it’s bad. He’s a rock singer, he sang it rock-style.
    (And he’s actually reaching all the notes right, which is remarkable since at some points they go so high up!)
    Maybe the organizers should have thought of that before hiring him?

  6. jackatz says:

    He’s always been a screamer, what did the numb-nuts who hired him expect?
    It’s not his fault that that he is aging, and like everything else on his body (memory, skin elasticity, continence), his vocal chords are failing. He wasn’t disrespectful, he was Steven Tyler, and I’m sure he did the best he could.

    p.s. I could record the coyotes in our valley at night and sync it to the National Anthem if someone wants to pay me a ridiculous sum.

  7. dorothy#1 says:

    It was awesome! That is how he sings. If they want someone to sing it more traditional get Josh Groban.

  8. Franny says:

    This man has a terrible sense of fashion.

    socks and sandals? how Ned Rocknroll of you.

    • Hautie says:

      I hate that I know this… but Tyler’s feet are mangled. I saw his interview on OWN (Oprah’s weekend show) and he showed off his feet.

      Which had been “repaired”. And they were brutal looking.

      Tyler had to have bones removed from them to help with the pain. So I am going to let him wear those socks and sandals… without giving him any sh*t about it. :) I am surprise he can walk at all.

      And I don’t see what all the crap is about his singing. He got up there. Was completely sober. And sang it LIVE. He did a fine job of it.

      Maybe people need to be reminded of Christina Aguilera, dranktastic edition, last year at the Super Bowl.

  9. sarah says:

    I was watching and thought he was pitchy but I think he’s always pitchy. I thought the crowd noise was more disrepectful than messing up a TINY bit of the lyrics.

  10. brin says:

    He made it his own.

  11. Erinn says:

    I like his version a lot better than many of the renditions I’ve heard over the years. I like that (for the most part) he didn’t drag out the last words of each line to ‘spice it up’. I really don’t know how to describe what I’m trying to say haha. There are a lot of singers who when singing the anthem drag out the words. Like when Christina Aguilera sang it. I don’t know if they’re trying to show off how high they can go, or what but it annoys me. It cheapens it. I like that besides two different times Steven really just sang it in a way that was to the point.

  12. Angel says:

    Well, it was f*cking freezing, which anyone who sings, knows can make it very difficult, and, yeah, that’s just kinda how he sings. He sang it how he wanted to. It just … sounded like Steven Tyler, tbh. I kind of cant believe I am seeing this story here; if I were a musician you couldn’t pay me enough to sing that anthem, any more.

    Anyway, I’m still sick because of that damn game, GDI cuntdiff! Not entirely his fault but he was terribad all season. One of the more gutting moments I’ve ever experienced w/ sports, and definitely as a Ravens fan.

    • TheOriginalKitten says:

      I know there are no tears in football but I felt TERRIBLE for that kicker. I guess it’s easier to be empathetic when you’re rooting for the opposing team. Anyway, I would probably piss my pants if I was a place kicker-too much pressure…

      • Angel says:

        Nope. I felt really, REALLY bad for him, too! Sooo much pressure, and it didn’t cost them the game; after all, it would have only tied and sent them into overtime. Still … he should’ve made it. No excuses.

  13. Lisa says:

    They should give up trying to find someone who can sing the anthem. It seems like everyone fucks it up in some way: They forget the words, add their own, or forget where they are and do their vocal exercises and make it five hours long.

    • Audrey says:

      Well, the anthem is always played prior to sporting events. What would you have them do instead? I think Tyler did fine – that’s the way he sings.

  14. Kaye says:

    Steven Tyler is one of a kind. He shouldn’t change a thing. I wonder if Justin Bieber will be as interesting in 35 years.

    • Minty says:

      Yes, Steven is just being himself. As for Justin, well, he’ll probably follow in the footsteps of Leif Garrett.

      • Veruca says:

        One can only hope and pray…

      • gg says:

        You do know Leif Garrett has a very tragic past dealing with drugs and alcohol and his best friend being a quadriplegic, don’t you? Not a good thing to say.

      • Minty says:


        Yes, I’m quite aware of Leif’s past, and I’m aware of the tragic things that many former child actors and teen pop idols have suffered. Justin should enjoy his success, but if he’s not careful he could easily succumb to the same pitfalls that many young celebrities experienced before him, especially when he’s no longer on top.

        Call me cynical, call me blunt, but don’t get self-righteous towards me on a gossip blog that mocks celebrities. I’m sure you’ve written positive things about a celebrity you like. But I don’t believe for one second that you haven’t made fun of a celebrity you dislike. We’ve all done both, so spare me the sanctimonious tone.

  15. Minty says:

    Kristin Chenoweth did a much better job at the 49ers vs Giants game.

    • The Bobster says:

      True, she did a great job, except for going ghetto on one note.

      The audience should boo singers who butcher the song for their own benefit. After all, it IS our national anthem and it should be respected.

      As for Tyler, well, he always sings like that, but it would’ve helped if he had remembered the words.

      • Minty says:

        Monday night, there was a segment on Nightline about celebrities botching the national anthem. Funny thing is, Tyler had previously sung it at the 2001 Indianapolis 500. He got it right the first time.

    • Li says:

      Yeah,yeah, we all watched Behind the Music.

      • Minty says:

        I’m not sure to what you are referring. I’m talking about Kristin’s performance of the national anthem at the NFC Championship Game last Sunday.

  16. Eleonor says:

    It’s Steven Tyler singing like Steven Tyler, what did they expect? An opera singer?

  17. SHump76 says:

    I totally don’t get what the big deal is. This is how Steven Tyler sings. When did Dream On come out? 1971 or something? I mean, did anyone think he was suddenly going to turn into a classically trained singer or something? NO. Also, at his age, he isn’t going to have the sort of range he used to. I’ve heard much worse.

  18. Nancy C. says:

    you ask for steven tyler, you’ll get steven tyler. love him and it was great!

  19. valleymiss says:

    What were ppl expecting? Tyler’s known for his raspy, screechy voice. Getting upset at the way Steven sang (aside from his fairly minor lyrical mistakes) is like getting upset at an opera singer not “rocking out” while covering an Aerosmith song. Courtney Love can’t sing like Mariah Carey and Mariah Carey can’t sing like Courtney Love. Apples and oranges.

  20. Beatrix says:

    I love Steven Tyler. He’s an icon and will always be one of the best rock voices of our time. He’s getting older and voices get older too. Leave the man alone, he still rocked it and was much more interpretive and artistic than Kristin Chenosomethings boring and generic rendition.

  21. Tweakspotter says:

    Are you kidding?! I like Steven Tyler too but accopella??? Kristin was not BORING she was great! With all the vocal artists that would have felt HONORED to sing it and would have brought tears to our eyes and they chose him?? What’s worse is he and JLo are who are deciding who the next singing star will be. Again I love him but this was an awful rendition and an example of how NOT to sing the National Anthem.

  22. MacScore says:

    “Dude looks like a lady!”

    Seriously…. I watched the video clip and was expecting to be horrified, but I think he did a FINE job! He hit the notes, he imposed his style, I didn’t notice any lyrics-flubs.

    I really think boo-ing a performer who is doing his best is what is really disrespectful here. Go Steve! Never a fan of Aerosmith but you’ve earned my respect.

  23. Snowflake says:

    I think he sounds great, and he didn’t take many liberties with the song. I thought he restrained himself very well, that’s his voice.

  24. MAMAKOWALSKA says:


    I lived in Boston for a while, and I can say with authority that YES quite a few of them do have sticks wedged firmly in their bottom ends:-)

  25. Jayna says:

    They got an old rocker who has toured his voice to death to sing an unforgiving song, hard even for great vocalists. They knew what they were getting. He was fine.

  26. MissyA says:

    When I heard he botched it, I expected it to be much, much worse.

    He didn’t “nail it”, but he didn’t ruin it, either. I guess since he’s a rock legend who makes his money by judging other’s abilities, people are going to be more critical?

    That said, Pats suck. :)

  27. Str8Shooter says:

    Hang it the fuck up, dude!

    And sorry, he no longer looks like a ‘rocker’ at all, but instead an over-accessorized Beverly Hills housewife!!

  28. Peg says:

    Given the freezing temps and his age, I think it was fine. I enjoyed watching him.

  29. anonymoose says:

    Best version of national anthem EVER, bar none:

    Is Tyler wearing socks with sandals? Eeek!

    • gg says:

      Even though it’s rather octogenarian-looking of him, he does have a very painful foot condition involving his smaller toes(Morton’s neuroma) so that’s probably why.

  30. ol cranky says:

    Like everybody else, I expected worse after reading all the criticism. After hearing him, it’s obvious he struggled with & failed to hit the same notes most other singers do (even those with better quality voices)

  31. Stubbylove says:

    I thought it was fine – he’s gonna be Steven Tyler and that’s how he sings. He even seemed to sing a bit restrained/conservative which I appreciated as it’s appropriate for the anthem – the song is not about him. He’s an aging legendary rocker and looks like a crazy gypsy – always has and I love it. Haters – lay off!

  32. lilred says:

    Call Stacey & Clinton He needs a fashion intervention!

  33. serena says:

    Now you’re too much. I get the feeling that people just want to badmouth someone, no matter who he is.
    I think that it’s just Steven’s style, that’s just like him. Get over it!

  34. EJV says:

    As a classical singer, I don’t know what the big deal is?? Steven Tyler has ALWAYS sung like this. This isn’t anything new. He has had vocal cord surgery for Pete’s sake because of his accessive screaming, horrible technique, and after had extreme therapy on his cords. I have heard worse National Anthems by people who sang it ‘correctly’. At least it wasn’t lip synced either!I thought his rendition was creative and stayed with the integrity of the song. Now, Kristin Chenoweth was amazeballs during the second game, just sayin’ :)

  35. Amanda G says:

    This was awful, but what do you expect when picking him? I just wish these singers would LEARN THE LYRICS.

    Steven looks way too much like Joan Rivers now.

  36. grace says:

    I guess it is becoming a tradition to criticize who sings at his event. Even when there is no much to complain about.

  37. They hired Steven Tyler to sing.And who showed up to sing…Steven Tyler.Who were they expecting him to sound like…Chloe Agnew???

  38. Shay says:

    I’m from Canada, so maybe it’s different, but even if someone was BOTCHING our national anthem I would NEVER, EVER boo it. I think that’s so incredibly disrespectful. And I don’t think he did too badly. He’s steven tyler, and he sang like steven tyler. What was anyone expecting?

    • Emily says:

      Yeah, I’ve never heard the anthem booed at a sports event, and it just sounds really disrespectful. Is it an American thing? In Australia we’d just clap and move on…

  39. Euphorima says:

    Wow….Liv Tyler may resemble this in the nxt few decades!!!!

  40. Ally says:

    Thought he was sexy, until I saw the moobs. Ewww.

  41. Adrien says:

    No such thing as “pitchy”. It was a word invented by Randy Jackson.
    Back to Steven, his rendition wasn’t as bad as everyone says. It sounded fine to me.

  42. Flim says:

    Are he and Janice Dickinson actually the same person?

  43. GoodCapon says:

    His voice was incredibly flat but it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined.

    With that said, I’ve had enough of singers trying to showcase their vocal range while singing the National Anthem. It’s not a concert, they’re not there to make an impression. They forget that it should be an honor to sing the National Anthem and they should treat it with respect, but only a couple of them do.

  44. kristiner says:

    It was so pitchy. I was in the kitchen with my mother getting drinks and I literally said “Oh my God! Who in the world is butchering it like that! I have an idea but it can’t be”

    Steven Tyler as a screechy rocker can SING but his voice was horribly bad Sunday. It was flat as hell and not how he sings. I know he’s an AI judge and back in the spotlight but his voice is fading.

  45. crab says:

    You ask for Steve Tyler, you get Steve Tyler! Love him!!

  46. Angel says:

    Why are people suddenly so uptight about the way this anthem is sung? It’s god damn neurotic, is what it is.