Social media was buzzing Saturday night after the first lady made a minor misstep at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. According to audience members, Michelle Obama supposedly mouthed the national anthem wrong, saying "O'er the ramparts we watched" at the wrong juncture instead of, "What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming." Normally, someone subconsciously flipping the lines to a song they've sung to death wouldn't be news. But this is the White House Correspondents' Dinner and who are we kidding? People sending innocent text messages throws Twitter into a tizzy. All bets are off.
"I just saw Michelle Obama mouthing the wrong words to the national anthem," lamented one seriously distressed Twitter user. "Classy." Other social media users complained that FLOTUS "[needed] to learn the words" before further making a fool of herself.
Let's be real for a second: Michelle Obama undoubtedly knows the words to the national anthem. There's no contesting it. How many times has she stood in front of an audience with her hand over her heart, standing side by side with her husband? Probably too many times to count. As for her critics, it's likely that they're not big fans of the first lady and her husband anyway and were just waiting for the opportune moment to strike.
As actor Jason Isaacs remarked earlier in the evening, "Absolutely everything is partisan politics [these days]." Michelle's minor gaffe really shouldn't be one of those things.
Political trolling aside, Michael Dean, chair of the department of music and director of vocal studies at UCLA, explained how easy it is to mess up the anthem's seemingly simple lyrics in an interview with ABC in 2012, noting that people often forget because it's such a common tune. Repetition doesn't exactly breed reflection, he pointed out:
Once they start looking at the words [of the national anthem], the thing that strikes every person I've worked with on this, is how moving the text is. Even the most jaded singers, they usually just start weeping.
Earlier that same year, country singer Luke Bryan stumbled over the lyrics of the famous tune as well, prompting criticism from some of his most devoted fans. The artist took to Twitter later to defend himself.
"I had a few keys words written down to insure (sic) myself that I wouldn't mess up," tweeted Bryan. "I just wanted to do my best."
Whether Michelle still gets anxious in front of people or not, standing up and singing the national anthem in front of a crowd of thousands — even if the spotlight isn't on you — is nerve-wracking. Let's cut FLOTUS a bit of slack this time.
You can watch the video here on CBS.
Images: CBS screengrab