Fergie tried something different with her version of the U.S. national anthem at the NBA All-Star Game, and not everybody was cheering.
The Black Eyed Peas singer’s slow, bluesy rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner on Sunday night wasn’t particularly well received at Staples Center or on social media before the 67th edition of the NBA’s annual showcase.
A low chuckle rumbled through the sold-out arena after Fergie finished the first line of the song with a throaty growl on “the dawn’s early light.”
Fans throughout the star-studded crowd reacted with varying levels of bemusement and enthusiasm while her languid, 2 1/2-minute version of the song continued. Although Fergie was on pitch, her tempo, musical accompaniment and sexy delivery were not exactly typical for a sporting event or a patriotic song.
Golden State All-Star Draymond Green captured the mood — and became an instant GIF — when he was shown open-mouthed on the scoreboard and the television broadcast in apparent confusion over the unique vocal stylings. Green then chuckled to himself after realizing he was on TV.
Draymond started cracking up while Fergie was singing the national anthem pic.twitter.com/3pMlgjGdYC
— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) February 19, 2018
Fergie finally got big cheers when she shouted, “Let’s play some basketball!”
Famed basketball commentator Charles Barkley joked that he “needed a cigarette” after Fergie’s performance during the TNT halftime show.
Former Lakers star Shaquille O’Neal leaped to Fergie’s defence, saying: “Fergie, I love you. It was different. It was sexy. I liked it. Leave her alone.”
Others on social media weren’t as kind, with criticism of the performance outpacing the positive reviews.
Fergie about to get flamed up bruh…
— Khleo Thomas (@KhleoThomas) February 19, 2018
Everyone: it can't get worse than Kevin Hart
Fergie: hold my beer
— Derek Schultz (@Schultz975) February 19, 2018
Fergie come on now!! What the heck!?!
— Gerald McCoy (@Geraldini93) February 19, 2018
Fergie couldn’t wait to get away from Black Eye Peas
— Joe Budden (@JoeBudden) February 19, 2018
Who saw Fergie's national anthem performance at the NBA All Star Game? I think mine was better lowkey
— Roseanne Barr (@therealroseanne) February 19, 2018
LMAOOOOOOOOO FERGIE SOUND LIKE A BODEGA CAT
— T’Cory, Son Of T’Jeff (@CoryTownes) February 19, 2018
Worst rendition ever?
— John Middlekauff (@JohnMiddlekauff) February 19, 2018
Let's be real, #Fergie gave the U.S. the anthem it deserves right now.
I mean you see who the president is, right? pic.twitter.com/Lbkymqd1co
— Britni Danielle (@BritniDWrites) February 19, 2018
#Fergie sung the national anthem so badly I’m going to listen to Nickelback all day just to get it out of my head.
— Chad Prather (@WatchChad) February 19, 2018
The Forum in nearby Inglewood, California, was the site of arguably the most famous national anthem in sports history during another NBA All-Star Game 35 years ago.
Marvin Gaye’s touching rhythm-and-blues version of The Star-Spangled Banner at the 1983 game was initially criticized, but has since gained widespread acceptance as a groundbreaking musical performance.
Instead, Fergie is more likely to join the long list of curious versions of the anthem, even though she showed far more impressive vocal chops than the likes of Roseanne Barr or Carl Lewis.