When I was in high school our band director made sure everybody knew how important it was to the veterans who may be in attendance and that this was the one song we played that everybody knew. He also told us that multiple directors have lost their jobs over poorly performed renditions. You do not mess around with the national anthem.
In the summers from 2008-2012 I worked at the Air Force Armament Museum outside of Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Twice a day it hosted events from Change of Commands to Retirements and everything in-between. Each event required a performance of The Star-Spangled Banner and we told each event organizer "when in doubt, use the recording". I heard the anthem twice a day almost every weekday in the summer for four years.
Well, what do you think happened?
Performances ranged from the incredibly nervous child performing at their mom or dad's ceremony to well-trained vocalists mastering every nuance. There was even one performance where somebody rewrote the music but kept the lyrics - that was weird. Naturally, the staff and guests would comment on the great performances and the atrocious ones. It was embarrassing for everybody in the building when it was a bad performance. The recording was there but not used as often as it probably should have been.
I've performed at a funeral, various high-pressure situations, and I've performed my own pieces to various degrees of success. However, if I can avoid performing The Star-Spangled Banner to ensure I do not mess it up I would consider that a win. Call it cowardice and call it what you will but with what it means to generations of an entire country I will err on the side of caution.
Fergie's performance is not how I want to hear the anthem: it's pitchy, it slides around, and the style is questionable to me. Some athletes and celebrities were filmed trying to contain smiles or wayward glances. However, it may have moved other listeners and I can respect the artistic decisions while hopefully not having to hear it that way again. Interpretations you do not agree with do not always correlate to lack of integrity or talent. Fergie rocked it in her own stylistic way and, to me, there were not any noticeable performance errors.
I support artists who want to bring their interpretation to every piece - we need more of it.