Representing one’s country at any level is truly an honour and considered a major accomplishment. This pride of donning one’s country’s national colours can become quite overwhelming during sports’ ceremonies where players are known to breakdown with emotion on hearing the national anthem played. This is why it’s all the more insulting when this momentous occasion is undermined by a national anthem blunder. Here are some of the best examples of the worst national anthem mess-ups.
1. Ras Dumisani
The name ‘Ras Dumisani’ still brings a tear to many a Springbok supporters eye as they re-live the tragic mauling of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika by the Durban-born reggae singer. The cringingly off-key rendition of the South African national anthem was performed for a rugby international against France in 2009 – one that South Africa went on to loose. While Dumisani wailed on the microphone, the Springbok players looked around incredulously with little doubt as to what they thought of this musical massacre. Dumisani blamed the cordless microphone for the poor performance after originally rejecting any criticism leveled against his singing.
2. Ard Matthews
Just Jinjer frontman, Ard Matthews, once renowned for his musical prowess, unfortunately made a name for himself in a more negative light after he forgot the words of the national anthem on live television. The SuperSport broadcast in 2011 was supposed to be a rousing moment following the announcement of the World Cup squad, but instead turned into a farce which resulted in a social media backlash that left Matthews very apologetic.
3. Michael Bolton
With his curly long locks, Michael Bolton was an easily identifiable 80s singing star but his crooning hasn’t seemed to withstand the test of time. Which is what makes him such a bizarre choice for the 2003 American League Championship Series (ALCS) – forming part of the Major League Baseball – at Fenway Park. And worse than his overdone version of The Star-Spangled Banner was Bolton’s use of crib notes during the performance. Fearing he’d forget the words, Bolton wrote the lyrics on his hand which he clearly reads while singing.
4. Christina Aguilera
The lyrics of America’s national anthem are obviously quite difficult forcing singer, Christina Aguilera, to make up her own at the 2011 Super Bowl – one of the most-watched events in television. Opting to sing live (most lip-sync through the performance) – Aguilera sang “What so proudly we watched at the twilight’s last reaming” instead of the correct “O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming” which left her a little red-faced, to say the least.
5. Nazi-era anthem at tennis match
Germany is, quite understandably, a bit sensitive when it comes to mention of anything related to World War II which is why there was such an uproar when US tennis officials mistakenly played the Nazi-era version of the German anthem – Deutschland Uber Alles – at the Fed Cup in Hawaii, earlier this year. Opera singer, Will Kimball, sang a verse that was dropped after the war, to the outrage of the Germans in attendance who continued to sing the correct third verse. The anthem was sung before the match between German, Andrea Petkovic, and Alison Riske of the United States. Following the debacle, and her subsequent loss of the match, Petkovic said: “I’ve never felt more disrespected in my whole life.”
6. Die Stem played at hockey match
Similarly, in 2012, South African hockey players were shocked and dismayed when they heard Die Stem – South Africa’s apartheid-era anthem – played before a hockey match against Great Britain in London. Great Britain Hockey issued a public apology, although only after The South African Hockey Association requested one, following the blunder. Fortunately, the South African team managed to overcome the shock and beat Great Britain 3-1.
7. Livin’ La Vida Loca replaces the Khazak national anthem
It’s one thing getting a country’s version of the national anthem mixed up or even replacing one country’s anthem for another’s accidentally, but when the Latin singing sensation booms out the loudspeakers instead of the Kazakh national anthem, that’s a whole other problem. And, in 2012, it was the organisers of Kazakhstan’s ski festival’s problem when Ricky Martin’s Livin’ La Vida Loca started playing during the opening ceremony, instead of the more serious Menin Kazakhstan. A crazy life indeed.
8. Borat’s Khazak National Anthem
Possibly even more soul-destroying than Livin’ La Vida Loca is having Borat’s completely offensive version of the Kazakh national anthem played instead of the correct version. The film, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, features a song produced by British comedian, Sacha Baron Cohen, which includes lyrics such as ‘my penis is a mountain’ instead of ‘we love your mountain’ with praise bestowed upon Kazakhstan for its superior potassium exports and for having the cleanest prostitutes in the region. The movie, which depicts Kazakhs as a completely backwards, bigoted nation, was actually banned in the country. In light of this, playing Borat’s version at a medal ceremony at the Kuwait championships is a particularly bad mistake.