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These National Anthem Performances Still Give Us the Chills

Whitney Houston isn't the only star to absolutely nail "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Singing the national anthem at a major sporting event is every singer's dream. But the pressure of the performance, coupled with the surprising difficulty of the iconic piece, also makes it really easy to bomb. Many an amazing singer has been panned for putting a little too much flair or personality into the famous song. (Note: when it comes to the anthem at least, sweet and simple is the key.)

But when it's done right, the performance can give you goosebumps, and perchance even make your heart swell with patriotic pride. So read on to find out which renditions of the national anthem still give us chills.


best national anthem performances

It would only be fitting that this household name would make the list. Accompanied by an ensemble of woodwinds and brass,Beyoncé brought the house down as she performed the National Anthem before the 2004 Super Bowl.

Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson best national anthem performances

Jennifer Hudson made sure we knew why she won the Academy Award for her role in Dreamgirls with her National Anthem performance at the 2009 Super Bowl. Holding nothing back, she gave us a slow build until absolutely nailing her final notes.

Renée Fleming

Renee Fleming best national anthem performances
Image via Wikimedia Commons

The soprano star blew the audience away at the 2014 Super Bowl, and went down in history as the first ever opera singer to perform at the annual event. "Fleming—singing beautifully, her smile growing warmer as she sensed she was pulling it off—succeeded admirably at bringing opera to the table in a way that might get it invited back," music critic Anne Midgette wrote for The Washington Post.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga best national anthem performances

Lady Gaga was lavishly praised after her passionate performance of "The Star Spangled Banner" at the 2016 Super Bowl. "Accompanied by just a piano, Gaga's performance was flawless," entertainment critic Troy L. Smith wrote for "It had flair, well-timed vocal runs and the elegance Gaga has showcased on some of her best ballads."

Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood best national anthem performances

American Idol contestant turned country superstar Carrie Underwood gave one of the best National Anthem performances of all time prior to game two of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Nashville Predators and the Winnipeg Jets in 2018. Even her own son couldn't contain his elation while watching his mommy bring down the house.

Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson best national anthem performances

Backed by a children's choir, Kelly Clarkson's rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" truly let freedom ring at the 2012 Super Bowl.

The Dixie Chicks

The Dixie Chicks best national anthem performances
Image via Wikimedia Commons

Opting for a tamer, more traditional performance than we're used to from the fierce girl-group, their unforgettable harmonies left us in complete awe at the 2003 Super Bowl.

Billy Joel

billy joel top-earning celebs

The "Piano Man" is one of the only artists to have performed the National Anthem at the Super Bowl twice—once in 1989, and again in 2007, and the latter performance is especially notable. Armed with nothing but his trusty piano, he brought tears to the eyes of many members of the crowd.

Luke Bryan

best national anthem performances

Luke Bryan infused the song with just the right amount of country at the 2017 Super Bowl, and even Ellen Degeneres couldn't help but tweet that he "sing[s] like an angel."

Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston best national anthem performances
Image via Wikimedia Commons

Widely considered to be the best National Anthem performance at the Super Bowl ever, Houston's jazzy and soulful rendition of the song in 1991—ten days after the country entered into the Persian Gulf War—proved just how incredible of a singer she really was. It's so great that it was included in her Greatest Hits album, and was re-released following the 9/11 attacks. In both cases, Houston donated her share of the royalties to charity like a true patriot.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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