Editor, White Cover Magazine
The Memorial Cup is a big deal, at least in the way of junior hockey. Those who pay attention to the Canadian Hockey League and its three leagues (of which several of the best teams are often American, as is the case with this year’s Portland Winterhawks) know which stars have what it takes to make it in the ‘Chel, and they know they’ll be watching these players on a bigger stage – Stanley Cups, Olympics, or just in the roster for one of 30 NHL clubs – for years to come. I had that luxury as an undergraduate at the University of Western Ontario in London, because the Knights teams I watched first-hand and in-person were stacked with talent you now know as Patrick Kane, Sam Gagner, Corey Perry, Nazem Kadri, and John Tavares.
But, for as big as the Memorial Cup is, it’s also watched intensely by only few. It relies on the new news cycle of the Internet, blog entries (like this one), and Rogers TV-produced mini-series to catch the eyes of millions, or just thousands.
So, when Alexis Normand hummed, hawed, and softly mumbled her way through the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ on Saturday, it was hard-to-watch – either because you were laughing too hard or because you just felt really bad for her.
The video above has caught fire as far as virality goes, which not even be terrible for Alexis herself, who is a folk singer based out of Saskatoon, where the 2013 Memorial Cup is being held. They say there’s no such thing as bad press.
She also apologized for her rendition, which was probably necessary considering how sensitive and suddenly patriotic Canadians and Americans get over their anthems whenever they’re slightly tarnished or abused.
I’m embarrassed and deeply sorry. I wish I’d had more time to learn the American anthem. Thanks so much for the crowd’s help! #memorialcup
— Alexis Normand (@Alex6Normand) May 19, 2013
Anthems are also those songs we all seem to know and sing to perfect pitch while we’re in the shower or before televised events, but how many of us have actually tried to put it all together in front of thousands of people?
My guess is, if something goes wrong, it can be like putting a plastic bag over your head: the more you try to breathe, the quicker the walls close in.
Yahoo! Sports’s Greg Wyshynski hit the nail on the head, stealing the words right out from the mouth of everyone watching it:
“At one point, Normand appears to just be making noises that sound like words, like when you forget a lyric while singing in your car. It’s the first version of the anthem we’ve ever heard that would have benefited from the singer faking a cough, like Bruce Campbell reading from the Necronomicon in “Army of Darkness.” The only thing missing was her turning to the camera at the end and bellowing “AND HELLO ALL YOU PEOPLE ON YOUTUBE!” before winking.”
Personally, I’d compare Normand’s performance to everyone out there who tries to sing Alanis Morissette, but I have to give her a whale of credit for sticking it out and finishing the song as best she could in the moment. We’ve all seen what happens when you try to bail early. It quickly becomes that dream where you’re naked in public.
Of course, it happens. It’s one song and one singer. It’s done, and there’s still a lot of hockey to be played.
*For those interested, the Halifax Mooseheads won the game, beating the Portland Winterhawks 7-4. Projected No. 3 overall draft pick (2013) Nathan MacKinnon netted a hat trick for the difference.