The rock band Madison Rising defended itself late Sunday from criticism of the unconventional version of the national anthem that it performed at NASCAR’s Nationwide series opener at Daytona Saturday.
The rock version of Francis Scott Key’s anthem instantly garnered a skeptical and uncomfortable look from NASCAR star Jeff Gordon. The band started rocking out on “The rocket’s red glare” and finished with fireworks as some members of the crowd applauded. The performance was deemed “spectacularly awful” by USA Today and “horrible” by the blog Larry Brown Sports.
But the band, which performed at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) despite claiming to have almost been thrown out for looking like members of Occupy Wall Street, defended their version of the song.
“In my opinion, the controversy in Daytona is simple. People were expecting a conventional presentation, but they got something completely different. Had they been familiar with our version, I have no doubt that the reaction would have been the typical resounding round of applause that we’ve gotten at hundreds of other performances, and that everyone would be talking about what a great and inspiring rendition it is,” said Madison Rising manager said Richard Mgrdechian.
“Back when were recording it, we had one very specific goal in mind — to reenergize that song for the 21st Century (and in time for the 200 year bicentennial on September 14, 2014),” Mgrdechian said.
“Over five million people have gone into it not knowing what to expect, but the vast majority have come out with goose bumps, tears in their eyes and our version downloaded onto their iPods to listen to every day. The mission of Madison Rising is to help restore a sense of pride back into this country, and we’re thrilled it’s having that effect,” said the band’s frontman Dave Bray.
Given Madison Rising’s patriotic themes and its ability to get people on the Internet interested in anything patriotic, it’s up for debate as to whether the band behaved inappropriately at the NASCAR event. Should musicians only perform the song at sporting events the way Francis Scott Key intended?
And is Madison Rising any worse than female singers at the Super Bowl who stretch out the line “Land of the Free” in all kinds of obnoxious R&B ways? Discuss.