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Race fans at Indianapolis Motor Speedway cheered as the 49-year-old music artist, wearing a white outfit and sporting a checkered-flag bandana underneath a cowboy hat, ended a soulful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner while playing an acoustic guitar with F-16 Vipers flying overhead.
However, a sampling of comments on social media showed reviews were mixed.
“This is the perfect example of how not to do the national anthem. It was to the point of being disrespectful,” said “Jacob,” a Twitter user and “huge Nascar fan.”
— INDYCAR on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) May 28, 2023
“I’m sorry, but the National Anthem should NEVER, be changed up like this. Good artist, bad choice!” said another user, responding to a clip of the performance.
A third chimed in, saying, “she did a great job butchering the National Anthem and even kept her hat on — wow.”
“As a former Navy musician, who has played and sung this song easily over 1,000 times in various settings, tha answer on this very loose rendition is a Hard Pass,” said a fourth Twitter user. “Love Jewel — but the anthem isn’t a 90s pop ballad.”
Others were more charitable, questioning why there was any negative buzz about the song, and some said they really enjoyed Jewel’s take on the national anthem.
“I don’t understand what was terrible about it there have been a lot worse,” said one Twitter user.
Rock musician Ted Nugent seemed to like the performance, tweeting that it was “f***in beautiful.”
“I will agree that Jewel sang the National Anthem much better than some others I’ve heard,” said a third. “But this is a song that should stand alone and be sung as it was originally created. This song represents so much more than the start of sports. It represents all of the blood, sweat, tears and lives of our military personnel given to keep our country free to enjoy those sports. Please honor them by singing this song as it was originally created. This is the one song in this country that people do not need to try to improve or impress others with by singing it in their own style.”
The Twitter account for Uproxx, a website that covers entertainment and culture summed up the reactions with a tweet that said: “Jewel performed either the best or worst national anthem at the Indy 500, depending on who you ask.”