Credit: Bill Haber/AP

Unless you’re the late, great Whitney Houston, it’s tough to perform a “Star-Spangled Banner” that people actually like. Take risks, and you’ll sound too screechy; concentrate on bombastic vocals, and you’ll mess up the words; play it safe, and some may accuse you of being boring. So we can hardly blame The Fray for trying to curry favor by mashing up two things Americans love more than anything: patriotism and the Muppets.

The Grey’s Anatomy-approved band was drafted to perform the national anthem at last night’s NCAA basketball championship game. But instead of doing a traditional, rousing rendition, Isaac Slade and co. delivered something gentle and jangly — sort of like Francis Scott Key meets “The Rainbow Connection.” See their performance below.

Like a Meredith Grey temper tantrum, the Internet’s wrath at The Fray was swift and fierce. Yahoo! Sports called their anthem “dreadful”; The Washington Post said it made them “want to curl up in the corner and drunk text an ex,” whatever that means; heck, even the guy who uploaded the performance to YouTube thinks The Fray should be “banned” from singing the anthem ever again.

But honestly? I kind of liked the band’s take on the song. Sure, it wasn’t exactly a powerful call to arms, as the best “Star Spangled Banners” can be. Even so, the song was creative and melodic, and it proved that every national anthem performed at a giant sports event doesn’t have to sound the same. Plus… Slade remembered the lyrics. Sadly enough, that’s enough to get him some extra points.

What do you think, PopWatchers — does The Fray deserve “worst anthem ever” status? Or did you find yourself actually enjoying their unorthodox take? Vote in our poll below, then explain your view in the comments.

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