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It was the smirk seen ’round the world. During Fergie’s unique rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at last weekend’s 2018 NBA All-Star Game, camera operators caught a number of celebs and players in the house expressing their admiration for the singer’s bold, jazzy vocal choices. One of the most memorable was a cut to Jimmy Kimmel Live! host Jimmy Kimmel, who appeared to be barely containing a smirk.
On Tuesday night (Feb. 20) Kimmel returned to the air to explain the viral moment, telling his audience that he didn’t realize he was on camera at the time. “I feel like I need to address something that happened Sunday night at the NBA All-Star Game,” he said to open the show. “I was at the game with my son Kevin and, somehow, I became part of a national anthem fiasco.”
That fiasco, he clarified, was Fergie’s “unusually sultry” version of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which he attempted to explain by referencing the lyrics to The Black Eyed Peas’ 2005 hit “My Humps” after explaining that the real reason he was smiling was because he loves the anthem so much.
“In hindsight, trying to work in the words ‘My humps, my humps, my lovely lady lumps’ may have been a mistake,” he joked, adding that his phone blew up after his smirk became an instant meme. “I didn’t realize I was on camera, then my phone started just buzzing with text after text and I was like, ‘Oh, I think I might have been on camera.'” He also noted that Fergie has apologized, saying she was just trying to do her best and sang it the way she did because she’s a “risk taker.”
Here’s the thing about taking risks, though, according to Kimmel. “When it comes to the national anthem, don’t. Just regular is fine.”
Reacting to the backlash on Monday (Feb. 19), Fergie said she just wanted to “try something special for the NBA, … but clearly this rendition didn’t strike the intended tone.” While the internet wasn’t kind to Fergie, one person definitely had her back: Mariah Carey. When asked how to handle that kind of criticism, Carey said simply, “Dahling, nobody needs to listen to that.”
Watch Kimmel below.
This story first appeared on Billboard.com.
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