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Ron Judd's Olympics Insider

Ron Judd, an Olympics junkie and Seattle Times columnist who has covered Olympic sports since 1997, will use this space to serve up news and opinion on the Summer and Winter Games -- also inviting you to chime in on Planet Earth's biggest get-together.

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August 9, 2008 7:43 PM

Oh, say can you ... huh?

Posted by Ron Judd


Now here's somebody you wouldn't want to be in China today: The poor sap responsible for playing the U.S. national anthem at the Michael Phelps medal ceremony.

The song started out in the wrong place, and seemed to play the opening bar at least one extra time -- maybe even two. In the stands, MIchael Phelps' mother, who had been mouthing the words, stopped abruptly, and looked confused.

At that point, the recording shifted into an unusual strings arrangement for the "rockets red glare" chorus. Then it went for the big finish:

"O'er the land of the free
and the ...

(Dead air.)

Phelps got a laugh out of it. No big deal.

And none other than George W., sitting in the stands, waved a flag frenetically and didn't seem to notice -- perhaps avoiding a major international incident.

But we're guessing the person at the audio controls has some 'splaining to do in ultra-image-conscious China.

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Posted by CindyW

9:45 PM, Aug 09, 2008

That was so bizarre. It sounds as if it was recorded incorrectly to begin with. The way it started out in the wrong place, repeated the bars too many times (and seemed to skip those same notes each time), and then faded away at the end rather than having an actual finish. It wasn't just as if someone turned down the sound on it, it was as if that was all there WAS to the recording--as if it just faded out! I've heard that they're keeping all anthem renditions down to about 90 seconds to save time, but they could easily fit the full "The Star-Spangled Banner" into 90 seconds. Don't repeat any parts of it unnecessarily and you'll have plenty of time to play the whole thing, including "and the home of the brave"!

Posted by Serendipity415

10:43 PM, Aug 09, 2008

It was awful. Even before they cut it short I was thinking WTF? It didn't even sound right in the sections where they were playing the actual melody - it sounded the way dialogue would, if a foreign speaking actor were speaking dialogue in English phonetically - like it was recorded by an orchestra that never played Western music. Awful! If we are going to have to listen to the national anthem being butchered every time an American wins a gold medal, I'm going to be grinding my teeth by the time it's all over.

And what's worse? President Bush was in the stands at the medal ceremony!

Posted by mo4life

10:51 AM, Aug 10, 2008

"And what's worse? President Bush was in the stands at the medal ceremony!"

- - -and how, exactly did that make it worse?
Was Bush responsible for the music? - - or maybe this is another of those "Bush-Chaney" conspiracies?

Posted by Really

11:11 AM, Aug 10, 2008

"And what's worse? President Bush was in the stands at the medal ceremony!"

- - -and how, exactly did that make it worse?
Was Bush responsible for the music? - - or maybe this is another of those "Bush-Chaney" conspiracies?

I think that Serendipity was suggesting that it was more embarrassing to the Chinese hosts to mess up the music with the president present. Bushies are always so defensive!

BTW Who's Chaney?

Posted by CathyS

12:21 PM, Aug 10, 2008

I saw the award ceremony for the women's sabre earlier in the day and didn't notice that the anthem was butchered, or even that they used the weird rendition that was used with Michael Phelps. Hope they get their act together and straighten it out. I don't want to have to hear it butchered 8 more times with Phelps.

Posted by wt

2:05 PM, Aug 10, 2008

Oh come on. Bush noticed. Clearly. Everybody was just trying to deal with an awkward situation.

I actually heard it the night before. It's an odd arrangement, but at least the whole thing was there.

Posted by John

2:06 PM, Aug 11, 2008

Yes, they cut-off the National Anthem... BUT what is worse is that the "arrangement" of our National Anthem is AWFUL. First, it is played by an orchestra and should be performed instead by a BAND like the US Marine Band in Washington DC. Second, the arrangement is "tricked up" and is filled with harmonic suspensions which dimply don't fit. It frankly creates a very "feminine" kind of impression, almost "impressionistic" in the French musical composer's tradition. It sounds AWFUL! And, it is way to slow! I have a doctoral degree in music and conduct a university band... I know what I'm talking about -- get me the US Marine Band or US Army Band in Washington and burn the recording that they have in Beijing!!!

Posted by Chris

9:34 PM, Aug 12, 2008

thank you John for your comments about harmonies, instrumentation and tempo. I am SICK AND TIRED of hearing the national anthem played like a friggin durge. It's an ANTHEM.

bleh!

Go planet!

Posted by Johnny Braschi

8:08 PM, Aug 14, 2008

The arrangement is awful. Diminished chords at the bridge? WTF?! Each country should submit their own recording... this is embarrasing.

Posted by maestrosmuse

11:26 PM, Aug 14, 2008

Who allowed this horrible rendition of our National Anthem?
You know it is bad when you cannot sing along!

Posted by LA Dave

8:31 AM, Aug 17, 2008

BUT the arrangment itself, (when played on the recoding correctly), is by far the best I have ever heard in my 42 years on this planet. The string section of "Rockets red glare" is haunting.

Posted by emspace

11:10 AM, Aug 17, 2008

I'd still like to know where to find this recording. I like it for it's reminiscence of a quality vocal arrangement.

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www.olympic.org: The official International Olympic Committtee site, with news releases, a searchable Olympic medals database and other archival information.
www.nbcolympics.com: Olympic news site from one of the Games' primary sponsors.
NBC Olympics columnist Alan Abrahamson's column/blog
Chicago Tribune Olympic sports writer Philip Hersh's blog
www.usolympicteam.com: U.S. Olympic Committee's athlete web site.
www.aroundtherings.com: Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription).
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www.beijing2008.com: Beijing Organizing Committee Web site.
www.vancouver2010.com: Vancouver Organizing Committee's 2010 Winter Games site.
www.london2012.com: London 2012 Summer Games site.
www.sochi2014.com: Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Games site.
www.chicago2016.org: Candidate city Chicago's summer 2016 bid committee site.
Olympic swimmer Tara Kirk's highly entertaining WCSN blog
Bellevue Olympian Scott Macartney's WCSN alpine ski-racing blog
Other WCSN Olympic athlete blogs.

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