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"The Star-Spangled Banner" is widely considered one of the most difficult national anthems to sing. There are two reasons why: the song's tune was adapted from that of a drinking song, and the lyrics came from a poem that wasn't meant to be sung. It's often a miracle when the singer doesn't find a way to mangle it, and it's perhaps notable that one of the most famous covers of it, Jimi Hendrix's version, omits the lyrics altogether. However, there are some that have utterly failed in their performances of it:
The National Anthem performance by Carl Lewis. This one got the crowd booing, something that even other horrendous renditions of the anthem don't tend to elicit. It's worth noting that he seemed fully aware of his sub-par performance however, saying "Uh oh!" after his voice cracked at one point and briefly interrupting with "I'll make up for it now!" towards the end, seeming to win back a few members of the crowd by belting out the last note successfully.
The first during the 2004 NBA All-Star game had quite a disrespectful version to a large crowd which had, at its forefront, multiple visibly-displeased Army officials. She used the song as an excuse to show off. This is made worse by her slurred speech and her turning the American National Anthem into a pop R&B tune. Watch at your own risk, especially if you're American.
She did more of the same during Super Bowl XLV. This time, she changed the melody to show off her pipes and botched some of the lyrics.It gets worse; through the whole thing, she sounded either gratingly off-key or borderline asthmatic. Here, have a listen.
John Michael Montgomery's 2005 performance at the Golden Corral 500 NASCAR race on March 20, 2005. He was off-key, stumbled over the words (he can even be seen looking at the words on the back of his security pass), and froze during an Air Force flyover at the last stanza. He also spent most of the performance staggering and swaying, and even stumbled off the stage at the end, causing many to assume that he was drunk. The performance was so poorly received that the following week, Montgomery posted an apology on his website, stating that he was suffering from acoustic neuroma, a non-cancerous tumor on the nerve between his right ear and brain which affected his hearing and balance.
Alexis Normand's performance at the 2013 Memorial Cup goes beyond terrible. She forgot the anthem's lyrics after the third line, after which she just started making up noises that sound like words. Her bungling of the lyrics got so embarrassing that the Canadian crowd had to step in and finish the song for her. This is made even worse given that the side from Portland, Oregon that had over ten Americans in their lineup. Normand eventually apologized on Twitter, saying that she wished she spent more time learning the lyrics.
Madison Rising, "America's Most Patriotic Rock Band". It has a Naval vet wrapping himself in an American flag, and the song arranged In the Style of...Creed. They've performed it elsewhere, but its most infamous performance was at the NASCAR Nationwide Series' DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona in 2014; you could see the drivers had "What the fuck I am listening to?" looks written on their faces.
Fergie performed the anthem at the 2018 NBA All-Star Game, and it has to be heard to be believed. The most common description was that she sounded like a boozy lounge singer trying to show off her range, while many joked that it was part of a plot to get even the most diehard patriots to take the knee in protest. Many players were visibly shown trying their hardest not to laugh, like Draymond Green, and the performance was met with almost immediate infamy; Fergie herself later apologized for it.
Even instrumental versions can still suck. This school got the bright idea to entrust this responsibility to a guy who had probably never even touched a guitar in his life prior to this performance. Why nobody stops him midway through or has the balls to tell him he flat-out cannot play it at all is beyond comprehension. The little metal flourishes only make it worse, and make him seem to be compensating by faux-shredding.
Canada's national anthem "O Canada", on the other hand, may be easier to sing (especially while sober), but even that doesn't stop someone from gloriously fucking it up.
When the Canadian Football League launched a brief, ill-fated expansion into the US in the mid-'90s, one of the "highlights" was when Dennis K. C. Parks, a Las Vegas lounge singer, was brought on at the last minute to perform "O Canada" to open a game between the Las Vegas Posse and the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Having never heard the song performed live before, he sang it to the tune of "O Christmas Tree" and botched the lyrics, leading the owner of the Posse to publicly apologize to all Canadians and even Vice President Al Gore (who was meeting with Prime Minister Jean Chretien at the time) to mention the incident during a speech. Parks did eventually redeem himself when he was invited to perform the anthem at a Hamilton Tiger-Cats game, where, having actually heard the song sung properly this time, he managed to nail it.
In July 2017, Canadian singer Jocelyn Alice, known for her 2015 single "Jackpot", sang "O Canada" before the MLB All-Star game in Miami, only for her rendition to be torn to shreds mid-performance. In addition to sounding strained, asthmatic and horribly off-key, Alice giggled during the line "God keep our land". The audience can be heard reacting and the players clearly look confused, and it's not hard to see why. The performance was lambasted on social media, and Alice has kept quiet during the blowback for obvious reasons.
At a baseball game in 2016, The Tenors performed the anthem themselves, with Remigio Pereira changing the line "With glowing hearts, we see thee rise, the true north strong and free" to "We're all brothers and sisters, all lives matter to the brave." The audience can be heard jeering in said clip, and the Tenors themselves have priceless reactions. Pereira was sacked from the group following this incident; he since has attempted damage control by claiming he "wasn't changing the lyrics" but rather the "French" lyrics... despite the fact that it was the English version they were singing. The French lyrics at that section, by the way, translates to "For your arm knows how to wield the sword, Your arm knows how to carry the cross", which means Pereira was still way off.
After Harry Caray passed away, the Chicago Cubs started using guest celebrities to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the Seventh-Inning Stretch at Wrigley Field. Quite a few have been extremely bad - Mike Ditka's version was probably the first to gain infamy for its awfulness; Jeff Gordon, Tony Romo, and Denise Richards have also turned in horrendous renditions. Even being a professional musician doesn't guarantee you'll do a good version - Ozzy Osbourne's performance is one of the worst of the lot.
On May 3, 1968, The Beach Boys began a concert tour in support of their album Friends. After a southern U.S. tour in April flopped due to the aftermath of the Martin Luther King Jr. assassination, the Beach Boys decided to organize shows that would feature both a performance by the band and a half-hour lecture by Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on Transcendental Meditation. Yogi had gained celebrity status and a growing following thanks to a public endorsement by The Beatles, and his teachings also influenced several songs on the Friends album. But that's where the good vibrations ended...
The first stop at the Washington Coliseum was plagued by poor acoustics, out-of-tune vocals, backup musicians who didn't have enough practice, and the crowd of 1,500 heckling the Maharishi's half of the show. The next day, a show at Queens' Singer Bowl was cancelled at the last minute after only selling 800 tickets out of 16,000 seats, and at the Iona College show, Mike Love literally had to walk up on stage to call out the audience's poor reception of the Maharishi (as if the downtime between the two segments hadn't sapped away their enthusiasm first). At the Spectrum in Philadelphia later that day, many audience members got the hint and started leaving after the Beach Boys were done.
In terms of tickets sold versus venue size, a stop at Hartford's Bushnell Memorial Hall on the 5th was the most successful, but the next concert in Providence later that day, as well as the 24 remaining shows, were unexpectedly cancelled. The venue cited the Maharishi's commitment to a documentary being produced by Four Star Television, but the poor ticket sales didn't help matters much either: the band's fanbase wasn't that interested in seeing them literally be an opening act for a guru. The band's manager Nick Grillo cited the poor ticket sales, as well as the Maharishi's television deal and health, as factors. The tour, and the underwhelming commercial response to Friends, was seen as another example of the band's waning popularity in the late 1960s.
Black Sabbath's tour in support of Seventh Star got off to a very bad start due to the performance given by then-lead singer Glenn Hughes. Contrary to popular belief, Glenn's awful vocals were not due to his substance abuse problems (lead guitarist Tony Iommi and the band's manager had been keeping a close watch on him to make sure he didn't do any cocaine), but because he'd suffered a broken nose after an altercation with the production manager. This left him croaking all of his vocals in the recordings that exist and he was replaced with Ray Gillen for the rest of tour and ultimately fired from the band.
British Heavy Metal band Cloven Hoof proved once again why it's never a good idea to get smashed before a concert in a 2012 concert in Cyprus: their frontman Russ North was so drunk that he fell flat on his back many times, rolled around on the floor, and stumbled around aimlessly with exaggerated falsetto screams. At one point, one concertgoer can be heard yelling "Get off the stage, you cunt!" Unsurprisingly, this was North's last concert with the band. "Highlights" here.
The 90th Annual Academy Awards performance of "Remember Me", from Coco, failed to do justice to the eventual Best Song winner. First, Gael García Bernal sang it as an off-key lullaby. Then, Miguel and Natalia Lafourcade started performing the end credits duet. Unfortunately, Miguel forgot the words, and replaced them with lyrics matching neither the rhythm nor the poetry of those heard in the movie. It overall feels like the Academy put more effort into pretty costumes and lights than in ensuring that any of the performers remembered exactly how to sing "Remember Me".
While his behavior at the end of the night of the 2016 Dimebash event was what got all the press, Phil Anselmo's actual performances that night were absolutely embarrassing. Chief among them was a cover of "A New Level" with (among others) Robb Flynn, Rex Brown, and Dave Grohl that was preceded by obnoxious rambling (which was not restricted to that song alone; he probably spent more time going on drunken tangents than actually performing) from a clearly inebriated Phil (to add insult to injury, Brown was visibly irritated by the second minute in); furthermore, he also blew his lines twice and made the whole band start over again, calling the crowd "a buncha pussies" after the first failed take. Phil also slurred his words when he was otherwise able to perform his parts and, much to Flynn's sheer disbelief, mouthed "white power" and gave the Hitler salute right there on stage during the first chorus. He went on to bungle "Ace of Spades", not so much singing as bellowing into the mic to the general tune of the song (complete with audible slurring) and capped it off with a drunken backwards stagger that nearly caused him to fall over until Grohl caught him. To finish off the night, he rambled for so long that Johnny Kelly actually took the microphone away from him; it was about a minute after that when he capped things with the infamous salute and cry that went viral. He ruined not only the whole evening, but the audience's respect for him.
The 1837-1838 Winter season at La Scala. Gioachino Rossini, in Milan at the time, said in a letter to Carlo Severini that he would not attend two performances during the Winter, and for good reason. Between November and February most of the works staged were very poorly received. One of the most notorious performances happened on January 9, 1838, when Gli aragonesi in Napoli by Carlo Conti was staged and aroused the audience to massive complaint, and the opera was not repeated. Other operas included the Italian premiere of I briganti by Saverio Mercadante, which failed to please and vanished after four performances, and Le nozze di Figaronote (this was actually Il Nuovo Figaro by Luigi Ricci, not the Mozart opera), which was just as poorly received. Even the ballets, such as Il castello di Lochleven by Giovanni Galzerani and Ettore Fieramosca by Salvatore Taglioni, failed to do well, and the latter resulted in the death of one of the dancers after falling and injuring himself.
MTV's Video Music Awards can have some great performances, but there are a few that are just atrocious:
Paula Abdul's performance at the 1991 edition. During the post-Milli Vanilli scandal years, certain other big Pop stars tried to make it known that they weren't lip-syncing either. Abdul, who was accused of the same thing at the time after reportedly having a lawsuit thrown at her by a former backup singer of hers, tried to show everyone that she could sing and never lip-synced to anyone else's voice. Unfortunately, her live shaky vocals (due to the heavy dancing) failed to impress, as well as her unflattering outfit.
Britney Spears' performance at the 2007 edition. She's lip-syncing, and this time it's obvious. Her body, while not terribly overweight (particularly for a mother of two), is very clearly no longer in the superb shape that defined her glory years, a fact made even more noticeable by a midriff-baring outfit all but designed to be perfectly unflattering. Her dancing, also once a trademark, is terribly choreographed - she moves as if she has crippling arthritis - and her expression of Dull Surprise makes her look positively robotic. It might have been better if she had foregone the dancing and sung for real. To top it off, Britney had recently shaved her head as part of an apparent nervous breakdown and completely ignored the advice of the show's stylists, opting to wear an obvious-bordering-on-trashy hair weave.
An episode of iCarly, entitled "iFix a Pop Star", parodied said performance. Carly, Sam, and Freddie were invited to direct fictional singer Ginger Fox's comeback performance, but find it hard to do so, what with Ginger Fox acting like a spoiled brat and failing to try during rehearsals. At the end, the gang has her lip-sync in her performance and try to cover up the obvious syncing fails with tons of smoke, but not before Ginger Fox marches "around the stage like an idiot" and flaunts her unshaven armpits.
Miley Cyrus' performance at the 2013 edition. She sounded hideously off-key, like she was either high or out of breath, while going over the top with sexual imagery (appearing in a flesh-colored latex bikini, rubbing her ass on Robin Thicke, and waggling her tongue all over) in a transparent attempt to shock. Almost immediately, the performance was criticized and condemned from all quarters, with Rihanna and One Direction's unimpressed reaction in the audience going viral. note (Another supposed reaction shot of Will Smith and his family looking shocked was also circulated, but it turned out it was actually their positive reaction to Lady Gaga's performance earlier in the night.)
Creed's December 2002 concert at the Allstate Arena, near Chicago. Scott Stapp's numerous substance abuse habits came to a head here - he showed up strung out of his mind, mumbled along to five or so songs, then decided to take a nap. When he realized he hadn't performed a full set, he showed up again, and continued singing - completely independent of the band - before passing out onstage. Unsurprisingly, it was a key contributor to Stapp and Creed's 2003 split-up (into a solo act and Alter Bridge, respectively) and got the band in a lot of legal trouble.
Speaking of post-grunge, there was Puddle of Mudd's 2004 performance in Toledo, Ohio, where a very inebriated Wes Scantlin admitted only four songs in that he was too drunk to continue. As a result, his thoroughly pissed-off bandmates walked off the stage, leaving him to fend for himself. Too drunk to know to follow them, he remained on stage for another 30 minutes, where he drunkenly warbled random ad-libbed songs and insulted the crowd while throwing back bottles and other assorted projectiles that they had lobbed at him before finally staggering away, where he was arrested by the Toledo police for disorderly conduct. Additional charges were later filed after he repeatedly spat on the back windows of the cruiser that was transporting him to be booked. After being released on a $150 cash bond, he vowed to never play in Toledo again because he was "arrested for nothing", but it's likely that the incident probably made him a Persona Non Grata in the Toledo metro area anyways.
90's British reggae star Finley Quaye's unforgivably awful performance at the Convent Club in Woodchester in 2015. So bad, it gained the attention of the British tabloid press. Finley stood with his back to the crowd, refusing to look straight at them, and did nothing but lifelessly play a single three-chord progression on a badly-tuned guitar for half an hour straight, with occasional bouts of half-baked noodling that did nothing to break up the monotony. Meanwhile his backing band droned on, even more repetitively than him. The concert ended with the promoter, already very impatient after the Troubled Production Quaye had turned the show into (and his numerous contract violations), sending the entire band off for "polluting [the] venue with bullshit," apologizing to the crowd directly, and refunding all tickets.
Usually, Emma Amelia Pearl Czikai is a very good musician. She has been known to move people to tears. But she also has hearing problems as the result of nerve degeneration. With proper audio feedback, she can correct for this... but in one case, on Britain's Got Talent, she was not provided with such. This was the result. Czikai would later file a discrimination complaint over the absence of said feedback, but it was dropped on the grounds that they only apply to job conditions.
It's very, very easy to find horrible performances over the years at the Eurovision Song Contest, which is almost as beloved for its flops as it is for its successes. But sometimes, a song or a performance doesn't even rise to the heights of So Bad, It's Good.
Jemini's performance of "Cry Baby" at the 2003 contest is one of the few entries (especially in the post-1966 era of the competition) to ever receive nul points all around. While some attributed their failure to backlash against the UK for its support of the Iraq War, there's no getting around the fact that their performance was flat-out dreadful, with both of the duo's members being hideously out of tune. Shortly after, they were dropped from their label, and their album never materialized; they broke up the following year. What was odd was that while the song was clearly not going to keep the UK in the top ten after finishing joint-third the year before, their pre-Eurovision performances weren't that bad. But the night of, their monitors didn't work (some say it was merely a technical glitch, they suggested sabotage), meaning they couldn't hear themselves over the backing track. Singing onstage without an in-ear monitor is very difficult when the volume around you is so loud, and sadly, Jemini weren't quite adept enough to adjust. Thus, they started the song in a completely different key from the backing track, and it didn't get better from there.
Sometimes, the song is too bad to clear the "so bad it's good" hurdle, even setting aside terrible performances, and that's when we come to "Celebrate" by Piero and the Music Stars, Switzerland's entry for 2004. Displaying the benefits of instituting a semi-final round almost immediately, this was an act that was simply not ready for prime time. The choreography was sloppy and still too frenetic for the singers to handle (notice how they're all out of breath after the dance break). Piero wasn't exactly a superstar performer, either, at one point hitting himself in the face with his own microphone. The song itself was vapid even by Eurovision standards, and this cocktail of problems resulted in Switzerland earning a nul points finish, which people didn't even think could happen in a semi-final.
Hole's June 2010 show at Washington DC's 9:30 Club. Let's forget for a moment that it started nearly an hour late and that Courtney's voice certainly wasn't at its best; the three-hour train wreck had a awful setlist interspersed with roughly an hour's worth of aimless gasbagging. Multiple covers were played, all of them butchered. The songs that were theirs were only faintly remembered, with several bars worth of lines frequently skipped. The intervals between numbers were longer than they should have been, and she had an assistant who was recording the set via iPhone. She put much more thought into performing to it than the audience, to the point where she rudely lashed out at a crowd member who found the assistant distracting. By the end, well over half the audience (and most of the band) had left, the crowd swearing and clutching their tickets in disgust.
Madonna has become something of a joke in the modern day and age, and very few things seem to be a bigger indicator of that than her much-derided performanceat the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, where she sang an extremely out of touch rendition of "Like a Prayer". Every single line was so out of tune and painfully off-key, in addition to Madge looking visibly winded after every line. Not only was it extremely poorly received, but when the performance was uploaded to her YouTube channel, large chunks of it were cut out and it was pitch-corrected to shit - however, the evidence speaks for itself.
Mariah Carey's performance in Times Square for New Year's Rockin' Eve 2016. It was plagued by technical difficulties that weren't picked up beforehand due to the lack of a soundcheck before the performance, which got bad enough that Mariah eventually gave up and ended the performance early. Afterwards, Mariah's team and Dick Clark Productions blamed each other for the debacle, with the former claiming that a broken earpiece prevented Mariah from singing along to the backing track, and the latter accusing Mariah of trying to lip-sync and skipping the soundcheck. Happily for Mariah, she was invited back the next year and turned in a much better performance.
Milli Vanilli's MTV performance at Lake Compounce in Bristol, CT. There was already suspicion that neither Robert Pilatus nor Fabrice Morvan, ostensibly the only members, made any of the music. This practically confirmed it. The track the two were lip-syncing to skipped mid-chorus. They spent a while trying to pass it off as deliberate before giving up and fleeing the stage. Worse, the whole concert was televised. It was the beginning of the end for Rob and Fab's careers, and it really didn't help that their producer fessed up soon afterwards. Almost right away, Morvan, Pilatus, and Arista Records faced nearly 30 separate fraud suits. The band became the only act in history to have a Grammy withdrawn, and not only did Arista drop them, but they deleted the master of the band's first album. Even after firing Rob and Fab, the group had to rebrand themselves entirely to so much as get an international release.
And as for Rob and Fab themselves? Well, they attempted to redeem themselves by putting out music with their actual vocals on it, and went on The Arsenio Hall Show to prove their integrity. And sadly, this performance, of "We Can Get It On" (warning: low quality), was also not good: Fab was game but singing out of his range, while Rob looked - and very much sounded - way too nervous to give any kind of good performance here.
New Order's infamous 1983 performance of "Blue Monday" on Top of the Pops. They were actually live in contrast with the usual practice of lip-syncing songs on the show. Due to the temperamental nature of early-80s synthesizers, the result was an off-kilter, out-of-tune mess. The band had the dubious distinction of having their single go down in the charts after this performance.
According to a BBC documentary on Factory Records, U2 were also performing on the show and Bono told the members of New Order that he greatly respected them for their performance and that he wished his band had performed live. To which their manager Rob Gretton said "Well why the fuck didn't you then?"
Nicki Minaj's performance of Roman Holidayat the 2012 Grammys was, putting it kindly, a disaster. The performance began with a horribly off-key rendition of "I Feel Pretty", and an overlong video of her alter-ego Roman possessed by a demon. Then, the song started, and Minaj seemed both unsure of what her dance moves were supposed to be and out of breath constantly, the offensive religious imagery notwithstanding. The performance then ended with her "levitating" and singing an off-key rendition of "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" while trying to seem evil (and, predictably, failing). The performance was poorly received by the public, was labeled classless and outraged not only religious groups and parents, but fans of Nicki themselves.
Julio Preciado's performance of the Mexican National Anthem in the 2009 Carribean Series baseball tournament. He sang the whole thing while being (apparently) drunk, since he forgot the lyrics of the anthem in the middle of the whole performance, mixed the rhythm with "The Star-Spangled Banner" at some point, and made up a few lines that are not in the anthem. Needless to say, people got really mad at him to the point that they booed him off the field, and he also earned himself a fine from the Mexican government for the perceived mockery on his performance.
Saturday Night Live is known for its musical guests. Some of them have delivered legendary performances on the show, others... have been legendarily bad.
Ashlee Simpson's embarrassing debacle on the Season 30 episode hosted by Jude Law is one of the most infamous moments in the show's history, revealing to the world the ugly truth about her lip-syncing: her second song began and the vocals for the first song she performed that episode ("Pieces of Me") started to play while she still had her microphone at her hip and her mouth closed. It's among the most notorious live performances of the decade, ending with the humiliating sight of Ashlee doing an awkward "hoe-down" before leaving the stagewhile the band plays on and the show cuts to commercial. She became a national laughingstock and her generation's Milli Vanilli literally overnight... but it wasn't this performance that would end her career for good. That came a few months later, and is described a couple of entries below.
Eminem's performance of "Just Lose It" on the Season 30 episode hosted by Kate Winslet was a prime demonstration of horrible. The lip-syncing was obvious, Eminem looked lifeless on stage, and at one point (around 1:17) he can be seen licking his lips while the track played on without him. The worst part? This was just one week after Ashlee Simpson's botched performance, so both he and the SNL producers should've known better.
While a lovely studio singer, Lana Del Rey has proven that she is definitely not a good live singer. She performed her viral hit tune "Video Games" on the Season 37 episode hosted by Daniel Radcliffe, and it was painful to watch. She seemed to mumble most of the words and was constantly out of breath, and at times it almost sounded like she didn't even know the words to her own song. The performance has gotten her a bad rap and despite being talented, she has become more known for her bad SNL performance. In fact, SNLitself' made fun of it on the next new episode (hosted by Channing Tatum with musical guest Bon Iver) by having Kristen Wiig as Lana Del Rey interrupt Weekend Update to talk about her horrible performance.
The Season 40 episode hosted by Jim Carrey saw Iggy Azalea and MØ perform their hit "Beg For It". While Iggy was in her element, this was MØ's first televised live performance, and her inexperience combined with technical issues produced an utter disaster on her part. Her singing and dancing were badly out-of-step with the beat of the song, and she looked like she had a bad case of stage fright. She was so embarrassed by her performance that she publicly apologized for it.
Ashlee Simpson strikes again, this time with an utterly dreadful performance of her single "La La" at the Orange Bowl on January 4, 2005. Coming just a couple of months after her SNL disaster (see above), this time she was committed to proving that she could sing live. It backfired badly - her vocals are so hideously off-key that it's not clear that she's even trying to sing as opposed to just shouting the lyrics. When she's done, the entire stadium is booing, and a shout of "You suck!" can be heard from the crowd if you have very good ears (provided they hadn't self-destructed from being subjected to three minutes of terrible singing). It stood in sharp contrast to Kelly Clarkson's performance just before her, which earned plaudits despite being plagued by technical problems. Between the SNL performance and this one, Ashlee's once-promising pop music career imploded in an instant.
Every year, the Super Bowl halftime show serves as a platform for some of America's biggest pop musicians. Some artists have used the occasion to knock it out of the park... but others have sent their careers into a tailspin.
In the early years of the Super Bowl, halftime was mainly a showcase for university marching bands and drill teams. That changed when Up With People, a '60s collective that formed to counter the anti-establishment views of the counterculture note (the group was formed by Moral Re-Armament, a severely conservative Christian cult; it may be worth noting that Alcoholics Anonymous also sprang from MR, back when it was known as the Oxford Group), performed four halftime shows in 1976, '80, '82, and '86. As noted by Deadspin, they pretty much invented the modern Super Bowl halftime show that truly came into its own in The '90s... but they also brought with them their hyper-saccharine sensibilities, which by The '80s (and especially by 1986) were seen as embarrassing. These days, their performances are still a punchline that often get named as being among the worst Super Bowl halftime shows in history. note (Fun fact: Glenn Close used to be a member of Up With People. Reporters are told not to ask her about that.)
The Black Eyed Peas' performance at the Super Bowl XLV halftime show in 2011. Their reliance on Auto-Tune translated terribly to a live concert event, as they delivered horribly off-key renditions of some of their most recent hits and performed stiff dance moves. The performance is often cited as a Creator Killer for the band, which saw airplay and sales fall off dramatically in the weeks and months after before going on hiatus the following year.
Maroon 5's performance at the Super Bowl LIII halftime show is remembered for being one of the most boring and safest halftime performances in history, making it painful to watch. The show consisted of nothing more than a rundown of the band's top hits, with uninteresting pyrotechnics and a performance that was below par from what you'd expect from a typical Maroon 5 concert as Adam Levine delivered an uneven vocal performance and looked very uncomfortable and awkward as he tried to groove with his special guests, despite the halftime show being billed as the biggest concert event of the year. To add insult to injury, Levine decided to take off his tank top and perform shirtless during the final act, appropriately a performance of "Moves Like Jagger", leaving some to see it as a tasteless nod to the Super Bowl XXXVIII incident 15 years prior (and on the same network to boot). Perhaps the biggest, most irritating part about the show? Following the death of SpongeBob SquarePants creator Stephen Hillenburg, fans were pushing for the NFL to add the song "Sweet Victory", which is famously played at the end of the episode "Band Geeks", to the setlist, with a Change.org petition getting over one million signatures a month before the game. At first, the NFL and related parties did acknowledge the campaign, and there was hope that the song would be performed in some capacity...then it turned out to be just a ten-second cameo of Squidward and the gang introducing special guest Travis Scott, using footage from said episode. There wasn't even any mention of Hillenberg, which left many viewers unfamiliar with the situation confused as to what SpongeBob had to do with anything. Scott's introduction was particularly galling: it used a simulated fireball barreling through Atlanta and into the concert stage at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but the fireball didn't land on the stage itself, but on a pre-rendered platform that is clearly pasted over the audience and not the actual stage. Scott only performed "Sicko Mode" throughout the act before being quickly shoved aside for the rest of the show (fellow special guest Big Boi of OutKast was slightly luckier, being able to perform two of his songs before being shoved aside as well). Fans were pissed and accused the NFL and PepsiCo of exploiting Hillenburg's legacy and smeckledorfing fans for a piss-poor tribute, and the YouTube video of the performance is littered with dislikes and SpongeBob memes in the comments, with users going off on the terrible ten-second cameo and the lack of "Sweet Victory" on the setlist. Add this disappointing halftime show to what was already a historically disappointing game, and you end up with the lowest-rated Super Bowl broadcast since 2008. What an accomplishment! To further illustrate how heavy the backlash from this performance was, YouTuber Gus Johnson uploaded a video lampooning the show the same night of the performance and social media slowed to a crawl that night when their servers were clogged with people flocking over to express their disappointment over how the NFL handled the SpongeBob segment. AniMat talks about the whole disaster here.
Even worse for Maroon 5, they weren't even the top choice to perform at the halftime show. The NFL and Pepsi wanted Rihanna and P!nk to perform in the show, but both declined because of the NFL blacklisting Colin Kaepernick for refusing to stand for the national anthem to protest against police brutality, as well as the two unwilling to pay for some of the expenses for the concert, with various other acts refusing to appear for the same reason(s). By that point, Maroon 5 was the only band willing to perform, and they got heat from both their fans and the general public because of it. To Scott's credit, he agreed to appear in the show if the NFL agreed to help him donate half a million dollars to a social justice group, while Maroon 5 and their label joined the NFL in donating the same amount to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America club, so at least some good came from it.
There have been some truly memorable impromptu live performances, such as the Beatles' 1969 rooftop concert and U2's mimicry of it for their "Where the Streets Have No Name" video. However, LA small-time Rap Rock band Imperial Stars' 2010 performance of "Traffic Jam 101" was not one of them. This band (whose original song is already awful) thought they would win fame, fortune, and attention to homeless children by setting up and performing right on 3 lanes of Los Angeles' busy 101 freeway. Instead, they "won" the wrath of the city's drivers as well as jail time and several viral videos of their "performance" on YouTube. It gained even more infamy after it was heavily mocked by comedian Joe Rogan during his 2012 performance at The Tabernacle.
Skeletons from the Opera Closet is a book about everything the operatic world doesn't want you to know - including a section on some of the worst operas ever written and another about the most unusual, if not the worst, ways operas have been performed.
The winner of the "worst operas" section, "I Bombieri (Opera's Greatest Duds)", is Montezuma by Roger Sessions, front and center, with horrible atonal and serial music and a poorly worded libretto by Giuseppe Borgese. (There are a few operas in that section that aren't as horrible as the section says, but most of them are downright bad. Adriana Lecouvreur by Francesco Cilea and Mitridate, re di Ponto by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (then aged 14) - lambasted respectively for historical inaccuracy and monotony - fall more under the So Bad, It's Good category, but Alfonso und Estrella by Franz Schubert is one of the prime examples why he never succeeded in the theater - it suffers from a repetitive libretto and indistinguishable music.)
The winner of the "worst/weirdest performances" section, "Sweet Diva, Did You See That?", was the 1976 Bayreuth production of Der Ring des Niebelungen - or, as the German critics called it, the "Centennial Scandal" - that transferred the story to the Industrial Revolution, with the Rhinemaidens as prostitutes and the gods as capitalist fatcats, and was nearly booed off the stage by the outraged audience. Other such performances included Die Walküre as if Saturday Night Live had existed in 1970 and Die Frau ohne Schatten translated into Kabuki theater.
José Feliciano's performance of "Every Breath You Take" at the 2017 Polar Music Prize was met with widespread ridicule. While the rest of the performance pretty much replicated the original version, he attempted playing the song's guitar line in his own signature style, which simply didn't work. His playing was drastically out of sync with the song's rhythm, so much so broadcast of his guitar stopped after an awful solo. Infamously, shots of the audience showed Sting looking very uncomfortable during the performance.
The Faceless, for all of their troubles, are still generally respected for their accomplishments and have put on some great live performances in their time. While they have had many mediocre-to-poor performances over the years, none have been quite as awful as their June 10, 2018 headlining performance at Bay Area Death Fest. To start things off on a sour note, they showed up over an hour after they were supposed to go on (at 10:30pm), then took almost an entire set length just to set up and do soundchecks. That is, they actually started playing two hours after they were supposed to have finished. The actual performance was truly dreadful; while slated for an hour, they played for maybe 20 minutes, and while most of the band was competent enough, Michael Keene was visibly high as a kite and completely butchered all of his parts to an embarrassing degree. To add insult to injury, former guitarist Justin McKinney's band The Zenith Passage had just played before them and had, by all accounts, put on a fantastic performance, making The Faceless' headlining "set" look even more pathetic. The band's manager blamed it on van troubles, which would explain their tardiness at most.
Vince Neil's modern solo performances have been notoriously dreadful, but a widely-circulated performance video from Rock in Rio in 2018 showed just how dreadful they were. An obese, badly out-of-shape Neil sang atrociously off-key and out-of-time renditions of Motley Crue hits with a voice that sounded like something between a dying cat and nails on a chalkboard, was visibly winded after almost every line, and had to have backup singers do most of the chorus, and he seemed to stumble over numerous lines in a way that suggested that he didn't even know the words. While he has long had a reputation as The Scrappy of Motley Crue, that video and various others that have emerged have shown just how washed-up he has become.