Nerves apparently got the better of Denver rock band the Fray during Monday night's performance of "The Star Spangled Banner" at the NCAA basketball championship in New Orleans. In an apparent attempt to explain his bungled notes, guitarist Joe King took to the band's official Twitter on Tuesday morning to admit defeat. "I'm going to ride home on the KU bus today," he said, referencing NCAA runner-ups Kansas. "My fingers froze last night. If anyone wants to join me I'll be at the loser bar tonight."
Critics haven't been kind to the Fray's reworking of the national anthem (video below). Entertainment Weekly gave it a thumbs up, but Yahoo called it "dreadful." The Houston Chronicle also used the D-word, and wrote that the Fray's attempt to turn it into a soft-and-cozy acoustic number was just "plain bad."
The band initially seemed to be on the defensive. Monday night, guitarist Dave Walsh tweeted that the national anthem couldn't be all things to all people, and compared the differing opinions over the song to the way people choose sides over a peanut butter brand.
"Upon thinking about it, doing the National Anthem is a bit like choosing between Jif and Skippy," he wrote. "You just can't please everyone."
The Fray walked on the basketball court Monday night looking ready for a march, with two guitars, a stand-alone drum and a tambourine. It didn't feel experimental so much as out of tune, as the guitars were pulling the song in conflicting directions. Vocalist Isaac Slade largely held the melody and did his best rocker-with-a-heart-of-gold growl. The rhythm was out of place, but that may have been more a factor of the guitars being botched.
King shouldn't feel too bad, however, as he's not the only one to freeze under the spotlight of a national anthem performance. Last year at Super Bowl XLV, Christina Aguilera lost her place in the lyrics, creating her own variations such as, "What so proudly we watched at the twilight's last reaming." She later released a statement explaining that she'd gotten "lost" in the moment.