Blog Archives

Neil outshined Whitney

My most recent post discussed Neil Diamond’s unfortunate diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease, which forced him to retire from touring immediately. I mentioned several of my favorite Diamond songs; “Sweet Caroline” was not among them, although it isn’t a bad song.

On this day 27 years ago, Whitney Houston performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” prior to Super Bowl XXV. Many have called it the “greatest” rendition of the American national anthem they have ever heard, Super Bowl or otherwise.

I don’t care for it. I believe it got all that hype because it came during American involvement in Operation Desert Storm. If it had come during a “normal” period when the United States was not at war, I don’t think it would have been hyped so much.

I saw a retweet from ESPN business reporter Darren Rovell claiming Houston’s rendition was the greatest. In past years, I might have gone off on him, but today, I just said “I completely disagree” and mentioned my favorite rendition.

.My favorite Super Bowl national anthem rendition? You guessed it. NEIL FREAKING DIAMOND! His performance came prior to Super Bowl XXI in January 1987, and fittingly, one of Diamond’s hometown teams, the New York Giants, won their first NFL championship since 1956 by defeating the Broncos 39-20. The Giants also happened to win the Super Bowl when Houston performed, beating the Bills 20-19 when Buffalo’s Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard field goal attempt wide right in the final seconds.

In case you’re curious, the other anthem performers for Giants Super Bowls: the Backstreet Boys (XXXV, lost to Ravens), Jordin Sparks (XLII, beat 18-0 Patriots) and Kelly Clarkson (XLVI, beat Patriots).

Diamond’s rendition of the anthem was, and still is, the shortest in the history of the Super Bowl: 61 seconds. For those who ridicule Diamond for rushing through the song, hogwash. “The Star-Spangled Banner” is a march, not a dirge. It should be sung and played allegro or allegretto, not andante.

Click below to witness great man with a great rendition of our national anthem:

The first Super Bowl national anthem rendition I watched was Barry Manilow prior to Super Bowl XVIII in January 1984 (Raiders 38, Redskins 9).

My top five Super Bowl national anthem renditions. I am only counting Super Bowls where I watched the national anthem live, so nothing before Super Bowl XVIII.

  1. Neil Diamond, XXI
  2. Herb Alpert, XXII (the last non-vocal rendition, and that needs to change pronto)
  3. Mariah Carey, XXXVI
  4. Renee Fleming, XLVIII
  5. Kelly Clarkson, XLVI

Honorable mention: Billy Joel (XXIII), Faith Hill (XXXIV), combined military chorale (XXXIX)

My bottom five. Same rule as above applies.

  1. Natalie Cole, XXVIII
  2. Jennifer Hudson, XLIII
  3. Alicia Keys, XLVII
  4. Kathie Lee Gifford, XXIX (Frank Gifford was slobbering over the microphone introducing Kathie Lee)
  5. Luther Vandross, XXXI

Christina Aguilera in XLV is a special case. The singing was fine, but botching the words was not.

Lady Gaga at Super Bowl 50? Meh. Nowhere near the worst, but not worthy of my top five.

From the first 17 Super Bowls, my favorite was Tommy Loy. He was a trumpeter from Dallas who performed the national anthem at Cowboys home games for over two decades, and was asked by the NFL to do so prior to Super Bowl V in January 1971. It was fantastic. That is a hard song to play by yourself with no singing. I’m sure Colts fans were saying the NFL was playing favorites, but they can’t deny Loy nailed it.

I also thought Cheryl Ladd of Charlie’s Angels was fantastic prior to Super Bowl XIV in January 1980. The South Dakota native is a very talented actress and a fine golfer, but she has taken a lot of heat, first from fans of Charlie’s Angels who hated her because she replaced Farrah Fawcett on the show, and then from progressives who don’t like that Cheryl leans right politically.

The first anthem singer was Anita Bryant at Super Bowl III. The first two Super Bowls had marching bands perform the anthem. Too bad Bryant couldn’t stick to music.

Trivia question: Who sang the national anthem prior to Super Bowl XI in January 1977 (the first one I was alive for)?

Prior to Super Bowl XXXV, Ray Charles performed “America the Beautiful” prior to “The Star-Spangled Banner”. I don’t admit to getting emotional about songs very often, but Ray’s performance was giving me goose bumps. It was that amazing.

Answer: NOBODY! That’s because “The Star-Spangled Banner” was replaced by “America the Beautiful” and sung by Vicki Carr.

Eight more days of this hype. I’ll be so glad when 5:30 pm arrives on February 4. Enough already.

Done before noon

I stayed until almost 10 last night, playing through the final round of Buzztime Countdown for the evening. Tori didn’t have any customers at the bar besides me for the last 30 minutes I was there.

I finished fourth nationally in The Pulse last night, but missed first by less than 300 points. I have now finished in the top nine for 16 consecutive rounds, 15 of those in the top five.

My mother sent me a terse text saying my father came through the surgery alright. She doesn’t know how to text and I don’t expect her to learn. She doesn’t like to carry a cell phone in the first place. I’m sure they’ll call today at some point.

Ethan Hoyle got me hooked on Trivia Crack for the iPhone. He had me play a game for him on his phone, which I won, so I downloaded it myself. It will be a good diversion when I can’t get to Buffalo Wild Wings or another location to play trivia.

I did a little more writing in the wee hours, getting Plainville and Ellis out of the way. I fell asleep at 3:15 and didn’t fully get up until 7:45, but I had the bulk of my work done, so it didn’t take me long to finish.

By 10:45, I was showered and ready to go to Buffalo Wild Wings. Lisa is behind the bar this morning. She’s very happy to see me, and I was ecstatic to see her. She loved her birthday swag.

I just played my first round of Buzztime for the morning. Didn’t get the first one, but got the next six to finish with 6,261 out of 7,000 possible (the games from 11 to 2 are only seven questions).

Super Bowl factoid: only one Super Bowl has been held on January 27. Many call it the best Super Bowl ever played. I think it’s highly overrated.

Super Bowl XXV was the first of four conescutive trips to the championship game for the Buffalo Bills. Their opponent, the New York Giants, won Super Bowl XXV four years prior.

Most of the experts predicted the Bills would win. More than a few predicted a rout. Buffalo was fresh off a 51-3 destruction of the Raiders at home in the AFC championship game, while the Giants had to travel across the country for the NFC championship game, where they won an exhausting battle against the two-time champion 49ers, 15-13. Immediately after the game in San Francisco, the Giants flew straight to Tampa, since there was no week off between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl.

My 14-year old brain differed greatly from the experts. The Giants, even without starting quarterback Phil Simms, who suffered season-ending foot injury in a regular season loss to the Bills in December, had the better team. It was not close on defense. Even though Buffalo had the best defensive end in football in 1990, Bruce Smith, New York had far more talent on that side of the ball, led by Lawrence Taylor, Carl Banks and Leonard Marshall. I also thought the Giants had a strong enough offensive line and ground attack to push the Bills around and keep Jim Kelly and Buffalo’s no-huddle offense off the field.

The Giants controlled the ball for 40 minutes, overcoming a 12-3 second quarter deficit. Buffalo had one last chance to win, but Scott Norwood’s 47-yard field goal attempt with five seconds left sailed wide right, allowing New York to escape with a 20-19 victory.

There was another Super Bowl which was originally scheduled for January 27, but it didn’t come to pass.

Super Bowl XXXVI, the Rams-Patriots game in New Orleans, was originally scheduled for January 27, 2002, but due to the September 11 terrorist attacks, the NFL postponed its week two games and pushed back the end of the regular season to January 6. The NFL did not want to compress its playoff schedule, and since it did not schedule a week off between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl, there was no way they could hold the game January 27 with the new schedule

The NFL rescheduled the Super Bowl for February 3, the first time any game other than the Pro Bowl would be played in February.

At first, it didn’t appear New Orleans would be able to host the Super Bowl on the new date. The weekend of February 1-3 was the first weekend of Carnival parades in the Big Easy, and the National Automobile Dealers Association scheduled its convention that weekend, and had booked nearly all of the prime hotel rooms.

To keep the Super Bowl in the Superdome, the NFL paid a hefty fee to the NADA to move its convention, and the Carnival parades were rescheduled to the weekend of January 25-27, the original weekend for the Super Bowl.

For those who weren’t old enough to watch Super Bowl XXXVI, or those who don’t know their football history, Tom Brady became a household name that day by leading a perfect two-minute drill which ended in Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning 48-yard field goal on the final play, which lifted the Patriots to an improbable 20-17 victory over a Rams team which won Super Bowl XXXIV two years prior and was called “The Greatest Show on Turf”.

Kurt Warner, the former Hy-Vee stocker who rose to superstardom when he led the Rams to the 1999 championship, would get back to the Super Bowl seven years after the loss to Brady and New England. Only this time, he would be wearing vastly different colors than the Rams’ blue and gold.