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The 10 best Super Bowl national anthem performances of all time

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whitney houston super bowl 1991

Before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers butt helmets with the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night in Super Bowl 2021, country star Eric Church and R&B diva Jazmine Sullivan will unite the nation — and music fans of different genres — by singing the national anthem.

But who are the most super “Star-Spangled Banner” singers of all at the big game?

Here, we rank the Top 10 to ever belt it out.

10. Demi Lovato (2020)

The national anthem is perfect for a singer like Lovato, who has the pipes but sometimes lacks the personality as an artist. T

echnically, the “Give Your Heart a Break” belter hit all the right notes — and looked fab doing so, in her white pantsuit — and delivered a purist’s rendition that scored with the Super Bowl masses.

9. Renée Fleming (2014) 

Backed by the Armed Forces Chorus, the soprano showed all those dudes on the field who was the head diva in charge with her classical powers that turned MetLife Stadium into the Metropolitan Opera House for three minutes. 

8. Mariah Carey (2002)

Just a few months after 9/11, Carey did the honors at the New Orleans Superdome, where Tom Brady won the first of his six Super Bowl rings with the New England Patriots. (He’s going for his seventh quarter-backing the Buccaneers on Sunday.) Giving her vocals some of that Mimi melisma — complete with her trademark whistle notes — a peak Carey reminded us that we belonged together when we needed it most.

7. Billy Joel (1989 and 2007)

Strong Island’s own piano man has the distinction of being one of only two singers — the other being Aaron Neville — to perform the national anthem twice at the Super Bowl, so he has to make this list. And they were two very different renditions: In 1989, he sang it a cappella, while in 2007 — with decidedly less hair — he played the keys as he sang Francis Scott Key’s lyrics.

6. The Chicks (2003)

The artists formerly known as the Dixie Chicks — no strangers to political controversy — let their three-part harmonies melt the nation into sweet unity. With minimal accompaniment, the purity of their voices met the moment by bringing home the lyrics and diffusing all divisiveness.

5. Luther Vandross (1997)

The sultan of soul responsible for a generation of babies being made, Vandross came the closest that anyone has ever come to turning “The Star-Spangled Banner” into a quiet-storm slow jam in 1997. All it was missing was some incense.

4. Beyoncé (2004)

Befitting the hometown queen that she was, Bey was offered the choice of either singing the national anthem or performing during the halftime show in her native Houston in 2004. She opted for doing a “Star-Spangled Banner” that proved she had serious vocal game, but the stellar moment was overshadowed by Janet Jackson’s infamous halftime show nip slip. Let’s not forget of course that Bey herself went on to slay the halftime show not once but twice (2013 and 2016).

3. Lady Gaga (2016)

Five years before she sang the national anthem at this year’s presidential inauguration, Gaga blew away the men in tights with her powerhouse pipes in 2016. And for good measure, she came back to headline the halftime show in Houston the very next year.

2. Jennifer Hudson (2009)

Beyoncé’s Oscar-winning “Dreamgirls” co-star belted those notes fiercer than any linebacker ever could when she took the field at Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa, Florida, in 2009. The performance was a show of true resilience and strength: Just a few months before, Hudson’s mother, brother and nephew were murdered.

1. Whitney Houston (1991)

With a gospel-influenced arrangement inspired by Marvin Gaye, Houston — rocking that iconic white tracksuit, with matching headband — will always be the MVP of Super Bowl national-anthem singers. No doubt, she was the bomb bursting in air that night.

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