'Twenty Feet From Stardom' Singers Belt Out National Anthem Before Rose Bowl: Video

Call it 20 feet from the 50-yard line. 20FeetIn a coup for the Radius/TWC’s Oscar campaign for the shortlisted documentary finalist Twenty Feet From Stardom, which chronicles the lives and career of a group of veteran rock-era background singers, four of them — Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Judith Hill and Lisa Fischer — performed the National Anthem at the 100th Rose Bowl game today in Pasadena.

An estimated 17 million were expected to watch the sold-out game where #4 Michigan State beat #5 Stanford 24-20. The figure that studio executives behind the film were probably most hoping for was much smaller: 6,028. That’s the number of Academy voters who will be eligible to vote for Best Documentary Feature should this moving and high-stepping pic from director Morgan Neville make the final five when nominations are announced on January 16. If a good number of those voters happened to be watching the game that certainly can’t hurt the critically acclaimed film’s chances.

Related: OSCARS: Documentary Shortlist – A Profile Of Tragedy, Triumph And Stories That Might Have Gone Untold

With nearly Main-20-feet2__131115225558-275x121a $5 million gross it is also the top moneymaking doc of the year. Incidentally the same four singers will be performing some of the big hits they recorded at the Broadcast Film Critics Association’s Celebration Of Black Cinema at the House Of Blues in Los Angeles on January 7th. But today it was football.  The four powerhouse performers, not used to having the spotlight all to themselves (see the film for details), each took turns belting out stanzas of a flawless and soulful rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

Related: Will Oscar Be Going Indie? Spirit Nominations Celebrate Strong Contenders

    1. EXCELLENT comment by BrianR! I agree. WHY not just sing it as it was WRITTEN? This sucked. COMPLETELY self-indulgent, and soooo off-key. Horrible. More like “20 YEARS From Fame”!

      1. Actually, the anthem was first “written” as an English drinking song. Francis Scott Key changed the song first with new, patriotic lyrics. So I guess that makes him the original musical blasphemer, long before 20 Feet From Stardom decided to ruin the song by singing while actually sounding black.

        1. Regardless of who first wrote it….it has become our Nations song and we need to respect it like our Flag…

    2. I was unaware that the Star-Spangled Banner can only be sung in one key. Forgive me for trusting Darlene Love and Merry Clayton’s musicianship over yours.

    3. why do the singers always have to make it “about them” this rendition ranks right up there with Roseanne’s

    4. This SUCKED! I’m so sick of them degrading our anthem. If you don’t like it how it was written and meant to be, then MOVE!

  1. What in the hell was that supposed to be..SURELY NOT THE NATIONAL ANTHEM. Sounded like a group of people selling their singing styles. If not, there should be a committee that audition at least 12 singers and their planned version of singing our National Anthem at the Rose Bowl, any sporting event. I’m sick of these performers twisting and turning, babbling out at the top of their lungs and revising the original music written for our National Anthem and how it should be sung.

  2. Just saw movie and was looking if it was getting the right campaign…and whaddaya know? It could win the whole thing!

  3. Go back to letting the band play please. One of the worst renditions ever. Just sing the song please. And get it right.

  4. It totally sucked. Sing the National Anthem! It is not a soul, Motown, Jazz or other media. Totally disappointed.

  5. You lost ALL credibility when you said they sang a “flawless” version of the SSB. That was NOT even close to how the song is supposed to be sung.

  6. Even I couldn’t be that off key. Horrible job of picking by the Rose Bowl academy. One would think commemoration of the 100th Rose Bowl would mandate it to be epic, not pathetic.

  7. With respsect to naysayers, I enjoyed the “20 Feet From Stardon” cast’s performance of our national anthem. Best way to celebrate the bicentenary of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

  8. That was the absolute worst rendition of our National Anthem I have ever heard. The notes they were “singing” are not even in the song. Why do individuals feel they need make the song different and put their own crappy twist on it? Sing the song the way it was meant to be sung!!!

  9. Francis Scott Key must be rolling over in his grave after that rendition of the national anthem. No, wait a minute. He wouldn’t even recognize it…AWFUL!

  10. That was an insult to all of the Armed Forces, both present and past, who have fought for our flag, and to all Americans. What a disgrace. Pathetic is an understatement. What would John Wayne say?

  11. Flawless? What complete and utter BS. That was simply an awful rendition and there should be no debate. “20 Miles From Stardom” as far as I’m concerned.

  12. A melodic grease fire. Great singers from a great movie, but it was a dreadful arrangement/performance. No compelling need to demonstrate vocal gymnastics, just sing the song, please….

  13. Pathetic! Rendition was an insult to all Americans.
    The Pasadena Tournament of Roses owes us an apology!

  14. Terrible, terrible, terrible. I’ve heard some pretty atrocious renditions of the SSB in my time but that one takes the cake.

  15. When I worked for Ray Charles in the 60s, Merry Clayton was one of the Raylettes. She was then, and still is, one of the best – if not THE best female singer I ever heard. I told her then and I’m telling her again. You rock, Merry!

  16. After hearing several years’ worth of National Anthem renditions by “pop” artists, isn’t it time to have a classically trained vocalist actually SING the National Anthem without ridiculously embellished silly turns and twists of the melody. Check out The Met for some candidates. The Anthem is to stir our hearts and souls and express our patriotism for those who have served and sacrificed. Does anyone remember people such as Kate Smith, Marian Anderson, Rise Stevens, Robert Merrill, or on today’s musical scene, the magnificent Rene Fleming. As our nation continues to dumb itself down, perhaps a bright spot for “upper” culture could slow the country’s downward spiral.

  17. IT SUCKED!!!!!!!!!!!!
    There should be a law against changing the tune/notes of the” STAR SPANGLED BANNER”. Whoever sang it at the opening of the Rose Bowl game sucked BIG time. Don’t go trying to change it up to make it your own, it’s not your own, it’s AMERICA’S own and should never ever be changed. Sing it the way it was written and the way it was meant to be sung.


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