7 Best National Anthems Performed of All Time
There have been a lot of singers who have taken a shot at making our list of 7 Best National Anthems Ever Performed of All Time. But, after a careful, review, we’re excited to announce our winners.
Best National Anthem Performances
Here we go. Please rise and remove your hats.
1.) Whitney Houston The Star-Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl XXV in 1991
Along with Ella Fitzgerald, Whitney Houston has the best female voice in music history. Before there was autotune, there was Whitney.
John Clayton, Jr. arranged the National Anthem for Whitney’s performance. The song is interpreted with gospel rhythms and jazz chords. After the September 2011 attacks, Arista Records released Houston’s song as a single. The song peaked at #6 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
Accolades for Houston’s The Star-Spangled Banner
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Deborah Wilker called the performance, “The rare moment on the football field showed her to be much more than a hit machine.”
Liz Smith wrote, “a magnificent rendition… her powerhouse version turned that often impossible-to-sing tune into a hit.”
It is widely regarded as the best “The Star-Spangled Banner” ever performed at a football game and comes in second on our all-time list.
Despite all the accolades, here’s a little secret. Whitney Houston actually lip-synched this performance of the National Anthem to a pre-recorded version of the song.
2.) Watch Marvin Gaye perform The National Anthem at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game
Marvin Gaye’s original interpretation of The National Anthemwas performed in front of Magic Johnson, Dr. J, Larry Bird, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to name a few.
“I’ve gone on the record many times saying that Marvin Gaye was my favorite artist. His music touched me in a deep, special, and personal way,” said Julius Erving (aka Dr. J).
Gaye was the Second Choice to Perform
Marvin Gaye apparently didn’t know he was the second choice behind Lionel Richie to perform the song.
Magic Johnson had this to say, “We were two-stepping, listening to the national anthem. We were just bouncing left to right. It blew us away. We just got caught into the moment of this man. People just forgot it was the national anthem.”
Gaye died about a year after this performance on April 1, 1984. His legacy lives on in his music and achievements. He received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Gaye was born in Washington D.C. At Motown, he earned a reputation for being the singer of romance songs. Berry Gordy thought the political nature of What’s Going On songs wasn’t a great fit for Marvin. But, Marvin persevered and the album was a smash hit.
Greatest Album of All Time
Recently, Marvin’s album “What’s Going On” was recently recognized by Rolling Stone magazine as #1 on The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.
Dr. J summarized Gaye’s performance, “You knew it was history but it was also ‘hood.”
3.) Jennifer Hudson’s performance at Super Bowl XLIII in 2009
Here’s a spectacular interpretation of The Star-Spangled Banner by Jennifer Hudson. It reminds more than a few people of Whitney Houston’s version.
So strong and powerful! This is how you do it!
4.) Natalie Gilbert with an Assist from Coach Maurice Cheeks
How great was this version?
As a guard for the Philadelphia 76ers, Maurice Cheeks had a lot of assists. But, none was better than when he went and helped the younger singer who was struggling with the words to the song. (As professional singers know, this can be a challenging song to sing.)
In true American spirit, Cheeks showed that we can get through things if we stick together. Is there any better message than that?
If you’re not a fan of Maurice Cheeks now, you never will be. A great move, and then to also involve the crowd in attendance, made it a very unforgettable national anthem.
5.) Lady Gaga’s The National Anthem at President Biden’s Inauguration in 2021
The pop superstar Lady Gaga left nothing at home as she performed this stirring rendition of The National Anthem at the Capitol for President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
An amazing performance!
You might like The Marshall Tucker Band Fun Facts.
6.) Jim Cornelison Sings The National Anthem at 2013 Detroit vs. Chicago Hockey Game
Cornelison has been singing The National Anthem for many years and it shows. His rendition comes off as more of a fight song than many pop renditions.
Oh, and Cornelison also performs “Oh Canada” when the Blackhawks play a Canadian team. He belts out the song in his own unique fashion.
“It’s great that the crowd gets involved,” notes Cornelison. “To have fans come up afterwards and high-five you is a real honor.”
He has been performing for the Blackhawks since 2007 usually in front of about 22,000 fans. He’ll do a little warm-up at home before the performance and then again in the penalty box before being called out to perform.
7.) Luther Vandross performs The National Anthem at Super Bowl XXXI
Better know for his March Madness “One Shining Moment” performances, Luther shows he has some football chops as well when he sings The National Anthem.
A beautiful voice and another solid performance of The Star-Spangled Banner.
And, that’s the last on our list of best national anthems.
The National Anthem Lyrics
O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
(NOTE: There are additional verses to the song, but for most events, the singer is instructed to go only this far.)
Hope you enjoyed our best national anthems selections. Agree or disagree? Who did we miss?
— Mike O’Halloran
Mike is the co-founder of ListCaboodle and a music enthusiast.
You’re on our 7 Best National Anthems Performed of All Time page
You might like: