Most Memorable Super Bowl National Anthems: Whitney Houston, Aretha – Rolling Stone
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The Most Memorable Super Bowl National Anthems

From Cher and Mariah Carey to Whitney Houston, here are some of the most star-spangled moments in big game history

The Super Bowl is an enormous night for international television. Each year, more than 100 million people are estimated to watch the game, its advertisements and its halftime show. It all begins with the performance of the National Anthem, a tradition that has been carried out by some of the greatest voices in pop music history. The song isn’t easy to deliver — as Christina Aguilera discovered — but there have been some exceptional performances. Click through to see the best star-spangled renditions. Editor’s Note: While we have tried to supply embedded video for each of these iconic performances, many of them must be viewed on YouTube due to restrictions, so viewers may be directed to click out to the site.

Whitney Houston lip syncs the National Anthem before Super Bowl XXV on January 27, 1991 in Tampa. The New York  Giants defeated the Buffalo Bills 20 - 19. (AP Photo / Al Messerschmidt)

Al Messerschmidt/AP Photo

Whitney Houston (1991)

Still the gold standard for all Super Bowl performances more than 20 years later, Whitney Houston’s prerecorded version of the National Anthem stands as one of the most stunning moments in American sports history.

NEW ORLEANS, UNITED STATES:  Singer Mariah Carey performs "The National Anthem" 03 February, 2002 at the Louisiana Superdome before Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans, Louisiana. The St. Louis Rams and the New England Patriots are playing later 03 February for the NFL championship. AFP PHOTO/Jeff HAYNES (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)

Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images)

Mariah Carey (2002)

No one expected the Queen of Melisma, Mariah Carey, to perform a straightforward version of the National Anthem. Her version was comparatively restrained, however, and very elegant. Being Mariah, she did hit one glass-shattering note at the very top of her five-octave range.

Marlee Matlin and Garth Brooks sing the National Anthem before a 52 - 17 Dallas Cowboys win over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII on January 31, 1993 at Rose Bowl in Pasadena.  (Al Messerschmidt via AP)

Marlee Matlin and Garth Brooks sing the National Anthem before a 52 - 17 Dallas Cowboys win over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII on January 31, 1993 at Rose Bowl in Pasadena. ()

Al Messerschmidt/AP Photo

Garth Brooks (1993)

The reigning superstar of country offered a solemn, mindful tribute in 1993. Actress Marlee Matlin, who is deaf, joined him to perform the song in sync via American Sign Language.

Singers Aretha Franklin, left, and Aaron Neville perform the national anthem before the Super Bowl XL football game Sunday, Feb. 5, 2006, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Singers Aretha Franklin, left, and Aaron Neville perform the national anthem before the Super Bowl XL football game Sunday, Feb. 5, 2006, in Detroit. ()

Michael Conroy/AP Photo

Aretha Franklin, Aaron Neville and Dr. John (2006)

In a tribute to New Orleans, then recovering from Hurrican Katrina, the soul diva shared verses with the celebrated vocalist from the Neville Brothers, as his fellow New Orleans native, Dr. John, lent the anthem a jazz-tinged piano groove.

Jennifer Hudson Jennifer Hudson sings the national anthem before the NFL Super Bowl XLIII football game between the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers, in Tampa, FlaSuper Bowl XLIII Football, Tampa, USA

Winslow Townson/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Jennifer Hudson (2009)

The Academy Award-winning star of Dreamgirls held nothing back in her 2009 performance, delivering a controlled yet astonishingly powerful take on the anthem. Like many performances, hers was allegedly pre-recorded.

Country singer Carrie Underwood performs the National Anthem before the start of the NFL Super Bowl XLIV football game between the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints in MiamiSuper Bowl Football, Miami, USA

David J Phillip/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Carrie Underwood (2010)

Another American Idol alumnus, Carrie Underwood, kept up Hudson’s strong momentum at the next year’s game, offering one of the most country-tinged renditions to date.

Singer Cher performs the National Anthem before Super Bowl XXXIII on January 31, 1999, at Pro Player Stadium in Miami, Florida.  (Al Messerschmidt via AP)

Al Messerschmidt/AP

Cher (1999)

She left the Bob Mackie headdress at home, but Cher’s throaty take on “The Star-Spangled Banner” still had the pop icon’s unmistakable style – not to mention some impressive notes.

BEYONCE Entertainer Beyonce Knowles sings the national anthem before Super Bowl XXXVIII, at Reliant Stadium in HoustonSUPER BOWL, HOUSTON, USA

Elise Amendola/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Beyonce (2004)

Ms. Knowles gave the full symphonic treatment to the National Anthem, performing with an ensemble of woodwinds and brass. Her vocals were the perfect, respectful accompaniment.

Faith Hill sings "America the Beautiful" before the NFL Super Bowl XLIII football game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers, in Tampa, FlaSuper Bowl XLIII Football, Tampa, USA

Faith Hill sings "America the Beautiful" before the NFL Super Bowl XLIII football game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers, in Tampa, Fla Super Bowl XLIII Football, Tampa, USA

David J Phillip/AP/Shutterstock

Faith Hill (2000)

One of the best Anthems in Super Bowl history was delivered by country star Faith Hill, who was also joined by sign language specialists. Her traditional delivery was moving and sophisticated.

Dixie Chicks during Super Bowl XXXVII - Pregame Show at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California, United States. (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)

Kevin Mazur/WireImage

The Dixie Chicks (2003)

As only the second pop group in recent memory to deliver the anthem (the Backstreet Boys did it in 2001), the country trio hit some truly ethereal harmonies in 2003.

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