I read a pretty funny article last night that traced the development of this performance from Whitney Houston's historical rendition, thru Maria Carey's whistle tones and onto Christina Aguilera forgetting the words (and completely obscuring the melody). It's an amusing read (bit of strong language), especially for anyone who has ever spent a moment wondering what in the world happened to the melody of this beloved tune. I really think Eric Whitacre summed it up the best with this little graphic that he shared for last year's big game:
So why the ornamentation anyway? What are those little trills, frills and decoration all about? I mean, we've been singing melismatic music for a really long time:
You know what's awesome? It's the woman who started this (current) crazy trend of control frills in our National Anthem. Go back and listen to her sing her love of her country. Listen to its simplicity and passion. And if you're like me, cry a little (or a lot).