The Major League Baseball Season is upon us and fans are flocking to their hometown stadiums to check out their respective squads begin the 162-game (more, if you're good) slog that is professional baseball. Part of the appeal of Opening Day is its emphasis on otherwise typical a facets of game day, including bringing in bigger names to perform "The Star-Spangled Banner," as is tradition. Here are seven teams that brought in professional musical talent for the season's first rendition of the national anthem, ranked by what act is a more impressive draw.
07) Matt McAndrew @ Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia
We don't mean any offense to Matt McAndrew, the national anthem vocalist of choice for the Philadelphia Phillies, but you need to gather some album sales or Grammys before we consider booking a television contest also-ran as a coup. McAndrew is also a debatable example of hometown talent. He was born and raised on the south side of New Jersey—reasonably placing him in Phillies territory—but there was no homegrown Philly talent to draw from for the big day? Anyway, we wish him luck: Philadelphia's sports fans are renowned/notorious for their brutality so, uh, don't screw the anthem up. You can watch Ja Rule and Ashanti get booed during an Eagles game below:
06) Cozi Zuehlsdorff @ Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay
Another example where we don't need any disrespect to the performer, but they need to put in some more work if they want to appear at the top of this list in the next few years. So far the peak of Cozi Zuehlsdorff's young career has been starring in both chapters of the Dolphin Tale film series, although she also released her first music album—Originals—during 2014. It won't do her any harm to get some free publicity by singing the national anthem at the Rays' opening day ceremonies. And, even at her worst, she can't be as bad as Tropicana Field, which regularly tops lists of the worst stadiums in the MLB.
05) Jon Secada @ Marlins Park in Miami
You may not have heard of Jon Secada but he was the quite the sensation during the '90s, selling more than 20 million albums and reaching no. 5 on the Hot 100 with "Just Another Day" and also won Grammies for both Best Latin Pop Album and Best Latin Pop Performance. It looks like he's got a new album coming out, A New Day, but it's a been a while since Secada was at the top of his game in terms of recognizability so it probably wasn't too tough for the Marlins to grab him for opening day. Good call keeping a hometown artist however.
04) Taylor Hicks @ Chase Field in Arizona
Sure, you can laugh but at least Taylor Hicks won when he was on a reality vocal competition, and he did so around the period when American Idol was at its popular peak. That accomplishment, and his salt-n-pepper hairdo, secured him name recognizability for life, even if his albums sales haven't lived up to those of Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson. He's already done his job gathering attention for the Diamondbacks organization (the reason why any baseball team does anything on opening day) and he's still got the pipes to hold down "The Star-Spangled Banner."
03) Kelli O'Hara @ Yankee Stadium in New York
She may not have the most name recognition but she's by far the most talented individual or act to appear on this list. The Yankees did well by heading to Manhattan to get their Opening Day talent from the Broadway pool: O'Hara has been nominated four times for the Best Performance by A Leading Actress in a Musical—for work in South Pacific, Nice Work If You Can Get It and for her current project, The Bridges of Madison County—as well as one additional Tony nod for Best Performance by A Featured Actress in A Musical. The Yankees have been accused by baseball analysts of spending huge amounts of money on flashy players but they'll get no complaints from this music analyst for opting for the under-appreciated Broadway star.
02) The Four Tops @ Comerica Park in Detroit
Few cities have as much music history as Detroit, from the rock 'n' roll stars of Bob Seger's era to the gritty hip-hop of Eminem's era. No scene represents the city better than its contributions to soul and R&B, particularly through Motown, one of the most influential record labels in American history. Unfortunately, many of the greatest acts in that label's history—from Marvin Gaye to Michael Jackson—have been cut down far too young. Although we understand that it might have been a bit too much to bring Stevie Wonder to town, tapping the Four Tops home to Detroit makes for a classy Opening Day. Kudos.
01) Tinashe @ Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles
Bringing back the Four Tops to perform was a great move but you can't beat grabbing a hot, modern artist to handle your national anthem for you. Tinashe is in demand following last year's acclaimed debut Aquarius, so she certainly gets the sticker for the most relevant performer that will deliver a "Star-Spangled Banner" today. Our only concern is that she might not dress appropriately—based on every photo we've seen of the R&B starlet, we get the idea that she doesn't like covering her midriff (seriously however, she was dressed just fine during last year's divisional playoffs). The Dodgers aren't stopping at the national anthem when it comes to bringing in young talent: The opening pitch will be delivered by Kendrick Lamar, who has sat at no. 1 on the Billboard 200 for the last two weeks. Although it might have been interesting to hear his interpretation of our nation's song...it's probably for the best if he just throws the ball. As long as he doesn't do as poorly as the last rapper to try it...
HONORARY MENTION: It's worth noting that today the Milwaukee Brewers will watch a video performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner," performed by Joe Attanasio. The vocalist and father of Brewers owner Mark Attansio had sung the Opening Day anthem for the Brewers for the last ten years before passing away in the offseason. It will be a bittersweet moment for sure.