Redesigning the national anthem

The World

The Star-Spangled Banner is nearly as old as America itself. But how much do most Americans really know about the time-honored traditional song? The lyrics come from a poem dating back to 1814 and the music from an old British drinking song. The song wasn’t officially chosen as the national anthem until 1931. Since then, some have criticized the choice, saying the lyrics are too hard to learn and the notes too high to hit.

Studio 360, a public radio program produced by WNYC and Public Radio International, is putting listeners up to the challenge of creating a new national album and redesigning Uncle Sam. We talk with Studio 360 host Kurt Andersen about the contest (currently taking place on YouTube) and the criticism he’s receiving for tampering with a national, musical cornerstone.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.