There are two kinds of Americans: those who hate—or simply tolerate—"The Star-Spangled Banner" and liars.

How is it that the greatest country in the history of everything has one of the worst songs ever as its national anthem? "The Star-Spangled Banner" is an archaically worded, structurally lumbering, melodically grotesque composition that has long worn out its welcome. Plus, it reeks of blowhardy jingoism and harks back to a time when Americans owned human beings and weren't that into recycling and yoga. (Francis Scott Key wrote the poem the lyrics come from in 1814; John Stafford Smith composed the music, which was a British drinking ditty originally titled "The Anacreontic Song"—only a stinkin'-drunk fool could love it.) Full of risible bombast ("land of the free and the home of the brave," etc.) and equipped with a raging boner for pyrotechnics, "Banner" is the musical equivalent of a winded buffalo tromping through a field of dung. We've been bombarded with it for 80 years. We get it already. We can do better. We must do better.

Therefore, I propose that the 1978 song "One Nation Under a Groove" become the United States' new anthem. Written by the late Garry Shider, Walter "Junie" Morrison, and George Clinton (no relation to Bill) of the cultishly popular psychedelic-funk ensemble Funkadelic, "One Nation Under a Groove" possesses a title that feels good to say and music that feels even better to listen and move to.

"One Nation" represents one of the peaks of funk, a genre created and mastered mostly by hardworking African Americans. The song starts with a pell-mell, undulating groove augmented by bobbing bass and lots of vigorous cowbell and hand claps, immediately setting your hips a-twitchin'. The soulful vocalists state the agenda in the first verse: "Here's a chance to dance our way out of our constrictions.../With the groove our only guide/We shall all be moved." Further inspiration comes from the line "One nation and we're on the move/Nothin' can stop us now."

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Sure, these lyrics refer to funk's transcendent rhythmic spirit, but they can also be applied to many of our country's capacities. The entire song radiates an irrepressible positivity; it even has some "good gods" and gospelish overtones in the chorus for the religious right to embrace. "One Nation" is a motivational wellspring—it's all about spurring action and unleashing energy, whereas "Banner" is about dwelling on the distant past and is mired in lethargy. For sheer morale-­boosting might, there's no contest: "One Nation" stomps all over the ramparts of "Banner."

If ever the time were ripe for an anthem change, it's now. President Obama surely heard "One Nation" as a teenager and, being possessed of considerable intelligence and refined aesthetics, he probably dug the song; maybe he even played hoop, busted a move, or made out to it. Clearly, Obama is the man to catalyze this change, especially while he's riding a wave of popularity after vanquishing Osama bin Laden. With "One Nation Under a Groove" as our national anthem, America will prove that even if its economic strength is flagging, its musical taste and striving for positive change remain unimpeachable. recommended