Best and Worst National Anthem Performances — From Stars to the Dust
The National Anthem has been performed many times. In this article, we've compiled a list of some of the best and worst renditions of "The Star-Spangled Banner" ever.
Lady Gaga and Whitney Houston delivered stunning arrangements that will be hard to beat. Demi Lovato also covered all the right notes and looked fab while doing so in a white pantsuit.
On the other hand, Rosanne Barr's performance of the National Anthem is among the worst of all time. View our list below to find out who slayed and who butchered "The Star-Spangled Banner."
The 2018 NBA All-Star Game featured a performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" by former Black Eyed Peas member Fergie that left some players, including Draymond Green and Steph Curry, in stitches.
A subsequent apology from Fergie followed. For her, it has always been an honor and a privilege to perform the national anthem. That night, however, she told TMZ that she wanted to do something different.
Fergie's unusual version went viral on social media, with journalist Jemele Hill tweeting a clip from TNT's coverage of the event in Los Angeles, where NBA player Draymond Green couldn't keep a straight face.
BEST: DEMI LOVATO
Demi Lovato kicked off Super Bowl 2020 with a powerful performance of the National Anthem. Technically speaking, the singer nailed it, and she looked great while doing so in her white pantsuit.
The appearance by Lovato at the NFL's most significant event comes only a week after making a much-anticipated return to the limelight with a powerful live performance of her song, "Anyone," at the Grammy Awards.
WORST: ROSEANNE BARR
Roseanne Barr's national anthem performance at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego in 1990 was met with tons of boos from the audience. She finished off her comically off-key performance by grabbing her crotch.
According to Sporting News, "Few who played or witnessed that doubleheader remember details of the game. But 25 years later, everyone remembers the Barr-Bungled Banner."
WORST: KAT DELUNA
It was clear from the opening note of Kat DeLuna's 2008 appearance at a Monday Night Football game between the Cowboys and Eagles that she would have a rocky road ahead.
After she finished the song, the crowd booed her. DeLuna later explained in an interview that a big part of why she missed notes was due to difficulty hearing herself over the crowd.
WORST: CHRISTINA AGUILERA
At Super Bowl XLV in 2011, instead of singing "O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming," Christina Aguilera sang, "What so proudly we watched at the twilight's last gleaming."
Aguilera then reflected upon her performance through a statement, saying that she hopes people feel the love she has toward this country and that the true spirit of its anthem still resonates.
BEST: LADY GAGA
During Super Bowl 50 in 2016, Lady Gaga wowed the audience with an emotionally raw and vocally impeccable performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner." She sang the national anthem in an operatic style.
Gaga led her performance with a masterful riff and hit every note, including the usually insurmountable "free," which she followed by advancing to the finishing line and thumping her chest like Celine Dion.
WORST: CHAKA KHAN
Before tip-off of the NBA All-Star Game in Chicago in February 2020, Chaka Khan sang her unique version of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Her performance left many viewers and players confused.
Khan's national anthem performance garnered a lot of attention on Twitter, with some even comparing it to Fergie's memorable performance at the same event in 2018 in Los Angeles.
BEST: KELLY CLARKSON
Kelly Clarkson sang National Anthem at the Super Bowl XLVI in 2012. Sometimes simpler is better. That's what the singer just proved. A few children's voices and snare drums accompanied her performance.
Clarkson's strong vocals were all it took to propel her through the song. Clarkson, the 2002 winner of "American Idol," sang the national anthem numerous times before, including during the 2011 NBA Finals.
BEST: WHITNEY HOUSTON
When she was at the peak of her career, Whitney Houston was asked to perform the national anthem before the Super Bowl XXV in 1991. During her performance, she was accompanied by the Florida Orchestra.
A little piece of Houston's soul went into her performance, setting the tempo for the most outstanding Super Bowl performance of all time. To this day, the singer's version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" is still memorable.
Meanwhile, "The Star-Spangled Banner" was not a poem set to a melody years later. Although Francis Scott Key was an amateur poet and not a songwriter, he wrote his verses to accompany a popular song of the day.
Originally, the song was not called "The Star-Spangled Banner." Early one morning, Key wrote his lyrics on the back of a letter he took out of his pocket without assigning a title to them.