Barack Obama has announced plans to change the US national anthem, amid a fierce backlash from traditionalist factions. After a long process of focus groups and consultation with his wife, the President has chosen the Jimi Hendrix version of the Star Spangled Banner, in a bid to ‘update’ the anthem and make it more appealing to the culturally diverse American people.
Speaking at a press conference this morning, Obama said, ‘Change is once again coming to America. Whilst our national anthem has a proud heritage, our research shows that people felt disenfranchised from the original version, which was based on a poem written in 1814. A lot of the American people don’t even know the words so this instrumental version is a perfect solution. Hendrix is still a hero to millions across the world and his freeform style is a brilliant metaphor for our ever changing society’
Five different versions of the anthem made it through the focus group stage, for the President and his wife to finally assess. Three out of the five were instrumental, including the Hendrix version, a pan pipes version and another in Tijuana style. The two with words featured alternative lyrics promoting understanding and inclusiveness, but these were thought too radical for the American people to stomach. A last minute addition about dropping bombs on Iranians was too late to make the final cut.
Chip Holleran, a special adviser to the President and project manager for the new anthem, was upbeat about the change. ‘We spent a long time playing different versions of the anthem to various focus groups. We knew without doubt that the Hendrix version was a hit when many of the men began playing air guitar and high fiving each other during the session. This is the sort of reaction we expect to our national anthem. The new anthem will be played for the first time in public next week, at the opening of a new 9/11 memorial in New York.