“The Star Spangled Banner” sung at the Super Bowl always gives fans a chance to hear an amazing performer, but some artists in particular have made it even more memorable. From Whitney Houston, Jimi Hendrix and Kelly Clarkson, there have been a lot of memorable moments at the Big Game. So, with the opening performance being an important event of gameday, we found the best Super Bowl national anthem performances of all time, according to the consensus of 13 experts.
As you probably know, patriotism and pro sports are deeply interconnected in the United States. Most games begin with a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and some sprinkle other displays of American lore throughout. However, do professional sports really teach and convey a genuine love of one’s country? According to research from Ohio State University, most Americans don’t think so. Only 47 percent of surveyed U.S. adults agree that pro sports promote patriotism.
The U.S. has experienced intense political polarization in recent years, and even the world of sports hasn’t been immune. A study focused on if it is acceptable for pro athletes to kneel during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice. Predictably, there’s still a lot of disagreement among Americans when it comes to the subject. Researchers uncovered an 82 percent difference (ranging from 13-95 percent) regarding whether or not people support athletes kneeling depending on combinations of beliefs in reference to race, political orientation, voting intentions and Black Lives Matter.
But regardless of differences, Super Bowl Sunday is practically a national holiday in the USA. Whether it’s for the Super Bowl snacks or gambling on who will win, the big game is the one event that brings Americans together. So, we wanted to know: Who kicked it off with the best Super Bowl national anthem performances? Check out our list below to find out what the experts say! If you have a favorite, let us know in the comments below!
The List: Best Super Bowl National Anthem Performances, Per Experts
1. Whitney Houston
After all these years, Americans are still crazy for Whitney Houston. Three in 10 wish they could go back in time to see her rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Super Bowl XXV.
Rolling Stone calls this incredible performance the gold standard: “Still the gold standard for all Super Bowl performances more than 20 years later, Whitney Houston’s version of the National Anthem stands as one of the most stunning moments in American sports history.”
“The No. 1 national anthem of all time goes to the infamous yet endearing Whitney Houston. It’s easy to understand why this is probably the greatest Super Bowl national anthem of all time, as the pop superstar brings down the house in honor of those serving in the Persian Gulf, USA track suit and all. She made the national anthem what it is today by setting the standard for anthem greatness. She made it her own and proceeded to own it. Bring on the goosebumps, Ms. Houston,” Bleacher Report says.
New York Post calls her the MVP: “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.”
whitney houston's legendary 1991 performance of the national anthem will never be topped #superbowlpic.twitter.com/TlD6WjaRBY
— Genius (@Genius) February 13, 2022
2. Jennifer Hudson
CBS Sports covered the performance, calling it absolutely stunning: “Hudson took the stage in 2009 and turned in an absolutely stunning performance from start to finish. Her powerful voice nailed every note and brought a goosebumps-inducing finish. It was undoubtedly one of the best anthems to ever be heard at the Super Bowl.”
“Hudson set the stage for one of the most entertaining Super Bowls in recent memory. Standing at the center of a small, circular platform, she sent shockwaves throughout the stadium with her golden pipes. This may be the closest someone has come to touching Houston,” The Sporting News claims.
This performance hit the high notes for Town & Country: “Often referred to as angelic, Jennifer Hudson’s Super Bowl national anthem performance hit all the high notes and then some.”
Black women have been at the forefront of some of the best renditions of the national anthem.
Jennifer Hudson @IAMJHUD (below)
We get the iconic @jsullivanmusic's version tonight! #SuperBowl #BlackHistoryMonth pic.twitter.com/yZ3IHl7qGE
— Mr. Brownlee (@_MrBrownlee) February 7, 2021
According to The Twinspires Edge, Beyoncé was a local hero for this rendition: “Super Bowl XXXVIII was contested in Beyoncé’s hometown of Houston, Texas, so she was a natural pick to take the stage. She shined under the bright lights, and it began a long relationship between her and the big game. Beyoncé has since gone on to headline multiple Super Bowl halftime shows.”
“The 2004 Super Bowl was hosted by Houston, so it only made sense for Houston-native Beyoncé to perform the national anthem. As the crowd displayed American flags throughout the stadium, Beyoncé perfectly hit every note,” 4WWL describes.
American Songwriter thinks she’s a pro because of her rendition: “Queen B has sung the National Anthem famously many times, including at the Super Bowl in 2004.”
15 years ago today, Beyoncé performed the national anthem at the 2004 Super Bowl. 👑
Beyoncé was initially offered the choice to do either the halftime show or the national anthem—only six months after her debut album was released—and she decided to go with the latter. pic.twitter.com/0LhQh1Jw9t
— BEYONCÉ LEGION (@BeyLegion) February 1, 2019
4. Renée Fleming
Classic FM thinks because Renée Fleming is an opera singer, she sang the National Anthem in a refreshing way: “One of the few who sang it as close to the original as possible, four-time Grammy-winning soprano Renée Fleming made history by becoming the first opera star to sing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ at the Super Bowl. Her rendition is simple and powerful, full of gorgeous vibrato and refreshingly free of ornamentation.”
“This is one of the most unique anthem performances ever at a Super Bowl. For Super Bowl XLVIII, the NFL chose to have a full-fledged opera soprano perform the anthem, and we were rewarded with one of the most beautiful renditions of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ ever,” YardBarker claims.
The NY Post says her ballad transformed the stadium: “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.”
5. Faith Hill
E! News recommends rewatching Faith Hill’s performance and also bringing the country star out with her famous husband for an encore: “Faith Hill performed the National Anthem at Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Next time we vote for Hill teaming up with her husband Tim McGraw for a Super Bowl performance we’d never forget.”
“The country singer belted out ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ prior to Super Bowl XXXIV featuring the ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ Los Angeles Rams and Tennessee Titans,” Gamble Online writes.
CBS Sports agrees and writes, “Hill went with a relatively simple backing for her performance at the Georgia Dome in 2000, letting her incredible voice soak up the spotlight. It was a powerhouse performance with an incredibly strong finish. She’s certainly someone who knows how to get us pumped up for football.”
Who do you think gave us the best national anthem of all-time at the Super Bowl? Tell us in the comments below!
You might also be interested in:
- Best Super Bowls Of All-Time
- Worst Super Bowls Of All-Time
- Best Super Bowl Plays Of All-Time
- Best Super Bowl Commercials Ever
- Rolling Stone
- Bleacher Report
- New York Post
- CBS Sports
- The Sporting News
- Town & Country
- The Twinspires Edge
- American Songwriter
- Classic FM
- E! News
- Gamble Online
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