Anthem Singer Butchers "O Canada" Lyrics at Leafs Game

Ryan Michael James posted a shirtless selfie an hour beforehand captioned, "Still trying to learn the words to 'Oh Canada'"

Photo via CityNews

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Mar 27, 2023

There's something about the national anthem that really rouses people's spirits. As we've learned in the case of Jully Black, messing with "O Canada" can lead to a lot of misplaced anger — under the guise of patriotism, of course.

A similar, albeit much funnier, thing happened last week when singer Ryan Michael James royally flubbed the lyrics while performing the anthem at a Toronto Maple Leafs game against the Florida Panthers. That would have been one thing, but it's his since-deleted posts on his now-private profile that really got people both fired up and laughing hysterically.

Originally from Winter Haven, FL, James is a singer, actor and dancer currently based in New York City — and he's very sorry about this whole thing. In an interview on KiSS 92.5's Roz and Mocha Show last Friday (March 27), he claimed he was a last-minute replacement and found out he was performing both the American and Canadian national anthems only two hours beforehand.

"I had two hours to learn the national anthem for Canada, of which I was not familiar with before doing the gig," James said, adding that he was promised that the lyrics would be displayed on a screen while he was singing. About an hour before the performance, the singer posted a shirtless mirror selfie on his Instagram story: "Still trying to learn the words to 'Oh Canada,'" he wrote.

Apparently, before privating his Instagram account, he had also posted that he was struggling with the anthem because of its similarities with the national hymn of Genovia — the pear-loving fictional country governed by Julie Andrews (and later by her granddaughter Anne Hathaway) in The Princess Diaries.
"Canada I am so sorry for flubbing the lyrics," James said on the radio interview. "I promise it was not intentional."

Thankfully, many Canadian snowbirds were in attendance to keep the song afloat, and the Leafs still went on to beat the Panthers 6–2. But naturally, it wasn't a "no harm, no foul" situation, and a lot of people were offended. Some social media posts called for James's apology before he made it, accusing the singer of disrespecting the country. Others just called it embarrassing!

See a clip of the performance below via CityNews on TikTok.
@citynewsto Ryan Michael James appeared to forget some of the words during his rendition of O Canada. He tells Kiss 92.5 he was a last minute replacement and only found out he was singing hours before the puck dropped between the two teams. #news #citynews #leafs #ocanada #canada ♬ original sound - CityNews

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