If you grew up in the United States of America, you probably heard the National Anthem about twenty times a year — at sporting events, on television, Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Veterans' Day. So why, when it comes your time to take the mic and belt out a centuries-old hymn of unbridled patriotism, do you waver? Is it nerves? Overcome with emotion? Hung over from the night before?

Maybe it's because, in the history of singing "The Star-Spangled Banner," more people have messed it up than gotten it right. So, if you've been paying attention, then you're probably pretty confused.

Luckily, we've broken it down for you. The top five ways to screw up the National Anthem follow, with examples of the masters doing it the way it was apparently meant to be done — totally incorrectly.

1. Forget the lyrics. Just sing what sounds right at the time. If you really get stuck, just stop and sing, "O'er the ramparts we watched" over and over until the flow of inspiration returns. Or you can do as Cyndi Lauper did, at the U.S. Open in 2011.

2. Be creative. If you're a famous singer with your own distinct style, a straight-up, traditional version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" is just not gonna cut. Go flat at a random moment, or sing sharp when nobody would expect you to. Throw in some long, acrobatic runs, à la Christina Aguilera at the 2011 Super Bowl, and your goal of getting millions of sports fans to hate you will be complete.

3. Pause. Whenever you. Feel like it. A good, long, pregnant pause. The kind that makes people … squirm. American Idol's Lauren Alaina did it. You can, too.

4. Try really, really hard. Sing your heart out, man. This is Americaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Give it all you got. If you're not injuring your vocal chords, then you're not trying hard enough. Carl Lewis will show you how.

5. Don't try at all. Laugh, joke, act like a radically disrespectful liberal. That'll be funny. And when it's time to hold the final note, forget it. Just scream like a banshee. Rosanne Barr provided you with the, er, pitch-perfect template on July 25, 1990 at a San Diego Padres game.

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