The challenge of writing a candidate song to become a new national anthem—see “National Symbols (Again)”—was exhilarating, and I am quite pleased with my contribution, “Out of Many, One.” I was eagerly awaiting the weekly posting of the podcast of the Studio 360 radio show announcing the results of the challenge to update Uncle Sam and the National Anthem.
Alas, although Studio 360 chose a winner and runner-up in the Uncle Sam challenge, it completely ignored listener contributions to the National Anthem challenge. Instead, the program “recruited” the rock band The Apples in stereo [sic] to offer a replacement anthem, which the band calls “Beauty of America.” I was unimpressed. Certainly, “Beauty of America” did not fulfill the goals I devised for my own anthem.
Twenty or so listeners had submitted entries to Studio 360 in the National Anthem redesign competition, no doubt representing hundreds of hours of labor. Entries were submitted through YouTube, so they had to be in a video format. I, for one, had never uploaded anything to YouTube, so I had to join YouTube, plan a video, and figure out how to make it. When I began work on my entry, I assumed I could just submit a PDF file of the sheet music, something I did know how to do.
I gamely learned what I needed to learn, recorded the music, and produced a video. After all, Studio 360 promised, “We’ll present your best ideas, along with an expert opinion, on our show which airs the weekend of the Fourth.” Where were our best ideas presented on the show? Where was the expert opinion? What listeners got was a promotion of a segment on next week’s show featuring The Apples in stereo. The musical contributors, of course, got shafted.
I sent e-mail to the Studio 360 producers asking for an explanation for what they did and for an apology. I’ve not yet received a reply.
On the brighter side, my arranger, Doug Starr, who is also the organist and choirmaster at my church, decided that, among the other patriotic music we are singing on Sunday, July 4, 2010, we will sing my anthem during communion. (See details here.) I am looking forward to tomorrow’s world premier.
On Lionel Deimel’s Farrago, I have posted more information than you could possibly want to know about “Out of Many, One.” The page devoted to my anthem includes an updated video correcting a minor grammatical lapse in the original YouTube submission.
Update, 7/10/2010: It was fun to sing “Out of Many, One” in church, though I had some queasiness about its self-conscious lack of religious content. In any case, the performance was well received.
Contributors of replacement anthems complained, in various ways, to Studio 360—see, for example, my comment to this post below—about how the competition was handled. In this week’s program, contributors were acknowledged, and listeners were told that the candidate anthems could be found on YouTube. No substantive apology was offered, however. The attitude of the show’s producers is reflected in what appears to be an official comment posted on YouTube 7/8/2010:
We’re dismayed that you’re feeling burned by the process. Our challenges are always open to pros as well as inspired amateurs. When The Apples came in for an interview, they surprised us with their anthem. This is not to diminish the entries submitted via YouTube: we’re humbled by the effort and creativity that went into each one. We ought to have announced on air that more submissions are online—that was a major oversight. We’ll be sure to do so this week.That, I suppose, ends the matter. Studio 360 was surprised by The Apples in stereo and felt no need to solicit the “expert opinion” listeners were promised.