I often like to say that “music is music.” And I expect to see and hear a fair amount of interpretation – I live in Nashville, and I work with musicians. But here’s the difference: while I experience a fair amount of “diva,” the folks I know respect the music. The National Anthem for the 2011 Super Bowl simply wasn’t about the music – it was about the singer. And of all the songs you leave alone, the National Anthem is never “yours” to make it “your own.” But still, I can forget melisma miasma quickly enough. But there is never – ever – any reason for a professional American singer to forget the lyrics. EDIT: unless music isn’t your actual profession.
Link to NPR article about singers and melisma