Fergie's rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the NBA All-Star Game was met with criticism and derision Sunday night after the Black Eyed Peas singer opted to turn the National Anthem into a bluesy torch song.
Throughout Fergie's sultry two-and-a-half-minute version, a "low chuckle rumbled through the sold-out" Staples Center, the Associated Press reported, with some basketball players, including Draymond Green, unable to suppress their laughter during the performance.
During halftime, after Shaquille O'Neal called Fergie's rendition "sexy," Charles Barkley quipped that he "needed a cigarette" following the performance. Social media similarly mocked Fergie's anthem, from its canned musical accompaniment to its resemblance to Marilyn Monroe's "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" performance.
However, the Staples Center is no stranger to unconventional, controversial National Anthems: Prior to Kobe Bryant's last game at the Los Angeles Lakers' arena in April 2016, Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea delivered a bass-only rendition of "Star-Spangled Banner" that was lambasted by viewers. ("I don't care, man," Flea would later say of the uproar.)
The 1983 NBA All-Star Game at Los Angeles' the Forum was also the site of one of the most noteworthy National Anthems in sporting event history when Marvin Gaye revolutionized the tradition with his own unique R&B take on the anthem.
Isiah Thomas told the Undefeated of Gaye's "Star-Spangled Banner" performance, “[After the game,] it was just common knowledge that whenever you talked about the anthem, everybody just pointed to it like, ‘Yeah, that was the best one that was ever done.’ Not because his techniques were good – they were – but because spiritually, in that moment, he really captured the feelings of everyone in The Forum. I’ve never been part of an anthem where everybody's just in unison and lost control and just started moving. It was a beautiful moment."