National anthems are almost always bad. The only likable one that I know of (though my knowledge is limited) is La Marseillaise, the French national anthem. Since last night was the first night of the World Series, where John Legend tackled our particularly bad anthem, I thought of the two great performances that almost redeem ours. First, by the unlikely Jose Feliciano:
Second, by the likelier Marvin Gaye:
As a bonus, here’s my favorite moment with a national anthem. In Renoir’s Grand Illusion, the French prisoners of war are putting on a show for their German captors. It’s a good-natured atmosphere until an announcement is made that the French have won an important battle. The prisoners spontaneously burst into La Marseillaise.