Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl National Anthem was great

If you didn’t get a chance to watch Lady Gaga sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” on Sunday night, do yourself a favor and check it out. Gaga performed with a single piano playing sporadic chords to support the singer.

(Photo source)

Gaga added vibrato and tall vowels to her performance, showing off the vocal practice she’s taken from the New York All-State Jazz choir to the top of the Billboard charts to an album of jazz duets with Tony Bennett. Making full use of the large range of her chest voice, she crept higher and higher to the emotional high point of the lyrics; “that our flag was still there.”

Following her powerhouse rise, she added melodic embellishments, jumping up here and there on her way to another high note on “o’er the land of the free” with the now-standard upper melisma. It’s after this moment just how clear the piano player is following Gaga’s lead the entire time as she holds onto the moment longer than you might expect. When she begins again, he is there with her. By adding an extra “the brave” at the end, she puts a long, high exclamation point on her performance.

Share it with your students. Share your opinion. Invite them to share theirs. I thought it was a very good rendition with powerful vocals sung by a person who understood that the lyrics are more than just memorized words. More people watched that performance than any other musical performance of the year. It’s definitely worth discussing.


images (1) @MattWarrenMusic

Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl National Anthem was great

2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees: one song

download (3)

The 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees have been announced. Here is one definitive, school-appropriate song and YouTube video for each nominee and a link to their nominee bio at the Rock Hall website.

The Cars
“My Best Friend’s Girl”

Cheap Trick
“I Want You To Want Me”

“Good Times”

“Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”

Deep Purple
“Smoke on the Water”

Janet Jackson
“What Have You Done For Me Lately”

The J.B.’s
“Doing It To Death”

Chaka Khan
“I’m Every Woman”

Los Lobos
“Will the Wolf Survive?”

Steve Miller
“Fly Like an Eagle”

Nine Inch Nails
“The Day The World Went Away”

“Express Yourself”

The Smiths
“Shiela Take A Bow”

The Spinners
“Rubberband Man”

“Owner of a Lonely Heart”


images (1) @MattWarrenMusic

2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees: one song

Music Ed Video Review: “The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll” (Time-Life)

This is a mammoth documentary that includes pre-rock topics through the 1990s when it was produced. Pulling clips to show students is a great way to bring more authentic popular musicians into your curriculum. Like many documentaries, The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll from Time-Life (now part of Warner Brothers) it covers a wide swath of material from which you can choose what to focus.

514V0BPJJ7LPhoto Source

What I like:

This documentary is comprehensive and includes topics not explored in great depth in other rock and roll documentaries. The information on Bob Dylan plugging in, for example, is top-notch and the 1970s is explored in great detail. It’s also helpful that it includes pre-rock inspiration that directly led to rock ‘n’ roll. The sheer scope of the documentary means you can pick and choose great material for your students.

What I don’t like:

The scope is a double-edged sword and you’re going to have to preview a lot of material in order to find what’s right for your students. It’s not a documentary you can press play on and leave for a sub, either. Depending on the age and tolerance level of your students, school, and community there are some very good parts you’ll have to cut out. (Pete Townshend from The Who has great takes on Jimi Hendrix that you can’t play a single bit of because of the swearing, for instance.)


I have four documentaries I pull from for my curriculum and this one has been indispensable since I purchased it. Despite that fact that it’s 20 years old now, getting to hear from some of the people who were there and changing popular music and by extension the country is a valuable asset. It’s pricey ($175 is the cheapest used copy I’ve seen) so I would only recommend it for people doing extended popular music history lessons as opposed to a shorter five- or ten-week units. Do not leave it for a sub or you’ll have some apologizing to do when you return.

It’s available on Amazon.

images (1) @MattWarrenMusic

Music Ed Video Review: “The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll” (Time-Life)