Well it sure has been an exciting year for the Canadian National Anthem. This year, the Canadian parliament voted to change the lyrics to O Canada to be gender neutral, and that caused quite a stir among Canadians, with some being for it, and some hating it. I even recall reading somewhere a quote suggesting the only reason Bill C-210 was only passed to show support to the dying man who championed it. Mauril Belanger, the MP who brought forth the bill, was diagnosed with incurable ALS last year. He lived long enough to see his bill pass through the House of Commons, but sadly lost his battle with ALS on August 16th.
A little over a month before that, another scandal revolving around our national anthem made headlines across Canada and the United States. You probably remember when Remigio Pereira of The Tenors changed the lyrics of O Canada to suit his own political agenda, while (whether intentional or not) coming off as being rather racist. That’s a whole can of worms we don’t need to get into right now, because there’s more drama brewin’.
In case you’ve been too busy watching the Blue Jays implode in September, and didn’t realize it was going on, the World Cup of Hockey happened this past month. It was a huge event, and it happened in Toronto, so I’d be a bit surprised if you didn’t hear about it at all. But in case you missed the final results, Team Canada went undefeated throughout the tournament, and locked down the World Cup in the finals against Team Europe with the unlikeliest of scenarios: Brad Marchand scored the winning goal with less than a minute left in the third period, while shorthanded.
I’ve built up a healthy dislike of Marchand over the years, seeing his antics as one of the league’s premier antagonists and pests with the Boston Bruins… But that goal and his play at the World Cup on a line with Sidney Crosby was pretty impressive, and erased just a tiny bit of that.
Given that the main portion of the World Cup was held in Toronto, it seems only natural that the organizers would want to get some Canadian talent involved. Walk Off The Earth were tapped to perform O Canada before Game 2, and they did. Understandably, they wanted to do their own take on the national anthem – not just some a cappella performance. They brought some instruments along, did their thing, and left – and the game went on.
Apparently some folks didn’t appreciate what the group did with the anthem.
Hey Canada, what the hell is this? pic.twitter.com/x65C2RoAT3
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) September 30, 2016
You’ll notice they also used the new version of O Canada, which has not been officially adopted yet – the bill is still making its way through the senate. If people already weren’t liking what they were hearing, that probably pushed them to lash out a bit. The band has since been defending itself on twitter:
— Walk off the Earth (@WalkOffTheEarth) September 30, 2016
Others seemed to dislike their stylistic choices:
Whoever hired Walk Off The Earth to sing the national anthem should be fired immediately and exiled from Canada. That was trash. #WCH2016
— Lucas Martin (@LucMartin__) September 30, 2016
And others jumped in to defend the band:
— Taylor Wilson (@TaylorPiper21) September 30, 2016
Now everyone’s going to have a different opinion on what went down… I think we can tell what Carey Price thinks of it…
Me personally? I like it. I’m a fan of music in general, and I appreciate creativity. Some will argue that a country’s national anthem is no place for creative license, but it’s music just like any other music. It’s not like they altered the song to push a certain political agenda – they performed the song with their own unique flair, which is something I absolutely respect.
I mean, it’s the same kind of backlash Flea got when he took some liberties with The Star-Spangled Banner at the end of the last NBA season.
I guess what it boils down to is this: You can’t please all the people all the time. OR: Some people have nothing better to do than complain about stuff.