What is it with reality talent competition judges botching the national anthem? ‘The Voice‘ coach Christina Aguilera bungled the song at the Super Bowl last February, and now, Aerosmith frontman and ‘American Idol‘ judge Steven Tyler is being crucified for his poor version of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ which he sang this afternoon (Jan. 22) before the AFC championship game between the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens. The Pats actually won the game, so Tyler’s inept version wasn’t a curse or bad luck.

First off, the script has been flipped here. Tyler spends his spare time critiquing ‘Idol’ contestants. We bet some of the wannabes that were subject to his criticisms are feeling a little bit vindicated after this perf, which should be called ‘The Star-Mangled Banner.’

The game (and the vocal mishap) took place at Gillette Stadium in Tyler’s Massachusetts stomping grounds. Wearing a fur-lined leather jacket and a bedazzled Pats shirt, Tyler looked like a rock star and a fan in one fell swoop.

When he opened his mouth to sing, he sounded off (Francis Scott) key. From the get-go, it was a surprisingly bad performance. We know Tyler is used to being backed by a full band, but he was sorely out of tune. When he sang, “And the rocket’s red glare,” it was raspy and, well, not good. He also let ‘er rip with a scream, which felt kinda awkward and out of place, too.

Is Steven Tyler really nothing without a backing band? Could be.

This isn’t the first time Tyler has been slammed for the way he sang the National Anthem. In 2001, he sang the song at the Indianapolis 500 and swapped out the lyrics, singing “home of the Indianapolis 500″ as opposed to “home of the brave.” While we appreciate the sentiment, improvisation is good for rock concerts — not with a song that most Americans hold sacred and consider non-malleable.

He was also criticized for his mispronunciation of words when he sang the song at the Boston Bruins 2010 season opener.

Fans reacted to the singer’s performance today like crazy on Twitter. Check out some of the critiques here.



Watch Steven Tyler Perform the National Anthem