I recently had a conversation with a young person who had difficulty accepting my assertion that beauty can be objectively analyzed. Last night’s rendition of the National Anthem serves up a great illustration of what I was trying to explain. The common love a nation has for the National Anthem becomes a guardian of sorts of how the song may be sung. Boundaries are set by affections.
Christina Aguilera can do whatever she wants to any of her songs. But when she is singing a song that belongs to 307 million people she literally risks her career when she improvises.
There is a lot of discussion about the fact that she missed her lyrics and even a friendly critic admits:
But I think the reason Aguilera is not getting easily forgiven for her human error of forgetting the lyrics (we all know that she knows them well) is because people were grated by her audacity to impose her version of beauty on a song that everyone instinctively knows how it ought to be sung. Her slurring and screaming and so-called “soul” has been foisted on people as a thing of beauty and they drink the kool-aid. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, they believe. Or, in this case, the ear of the hearer. But when it comes to a song that they know, a song that they respect, the lights go on.
I personally think that if Christians loved hymns as much as the love the National Anthem, they’d not put up with the disrespect that passes itself off as artistry foisted on their worship.