Christina Aguilera national anthem
Christina Aguilera received backlash for messing up the US national anthem lyrics at the Super Bowl in 2011 REUTERS/Jeff Haynes

For any American musician, being asked to sing the US national anthem is a great honour. Whitney Houston, Beyonce and Kelly Clarkson are among the singers who have belted out The Star-Spangled Banner to perfection at the Super Bowl or before an NBA game.

Of course, there are some performances that have gone down in history as being complete turkeys. Nonetheless, it is always good fun to watch a diva – or even a male vocalist – attempt to sing the notoriously difficult anthem. In celebration of Independence Day, also known as Fourth of July, IBTimes UK rounds up some of the best and worst national anthem renditions ever.


Whitney Houston

Undoubtedly the best performance of The Star-Spangled Banner there has ever been. The late singer opened the Super Bowl XXV in 1991 and nobody was ready for the soaring vocals she would deliver. Note for note, Houston's rendition of the patriotic song was absolute perfection.

A couple of days later, the performance was shrouded in controversy when reports claimed Houston lip-synched her way through the routine. However, it was then stated that Houston used a combination of the backing track as well as her live vocals. Regardless, Houston's performance has since been held as the gold standard.

Kelly Clarkson (2013)

In 2013, Clarkson had the honour of performing My Country 'Tis Of Thee, also known as America, at President Barack Obama's inauguration. Granted, this is not The Star-Spangled Banner but America was one of the country's national anthems before Banner was officially adopted in 1931. Quite simply, Clarkson's performance is breathtaking.

The American Idol winner executed the song fantastically considering she had a world audience with the inauguration live-streamed and she genuinely sang live – Beyonce sparked outrage when it was revealed she lip-synched at the same event, blaming the unpredictability of performing outside. Obama looked blown away by Clarkson's performance and gave the singer his seal of approval. Just phenomenal.

Beyonce (2004)

The Halo singer may not have sang live at Obama's inauguration but she did do The Star-Spangled Banner justice eight years previously. In the midst of Destiny's Child's split, Queen Bey stood solo as she sang the national anthem at the Super Bowl XXXVIII. With flawless runs and terrific vocal control, the singer put her Beyonce stamp on the iconic ballad and totally owned it.

Faith Hill (2000)

The country star took centre-stage to sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl XXXIV and executed it powerfully. Without overdoing it, Faith Hill's voice rises above the orchestra and is ultimately beautiful in its simplicity. Undoubtedly up there with the best.

Jennifer Hudson (2009)

When doesn't J-Hud get it right? The Dreamgirls actress bravely commanded the spotlight to represent her country just four months after her mother, brother and seven-year-old nephew were murdered. It was Hudson's first public appearance after the tragedies and she admirably stood strong and allowed her singing to say it all. This is guaranteed to send chills down your spine.


Christina Aguilera (2011)

Everyone knows that Ms Aguilera can sing her heart out. Which makes it even more of a shame that she botched her performance at the Super Bowl in 2011. What Aguilera should have sung was: "O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?" but she instead combined this with an earlier line so she said: "What so proudly we watched at the twilight's last reaming."

R Kelly (2005)

The Grammy-winning singer's attempt to put a soul spin on the national anthem did not go down too well before a boxing fight in Las Vegas. The jazzed up instrumental arrangement was cumbersome on its own, but then R Kelly's shaky vocals and request for the audience to "Clap your hands y'all", was an overkill. R Kelly, The Star-Spangled Banner is not for you.

Steven Tyler (2012)

The Aerosmith frontman shouts and screeches at the best of times so of course he was going to do the same with the national anthem. Tyler has sang The Star-Spangled Banner in the past but when he did it again in 2012, he fluffed the lyrics perhaps because of the incessant screeching.

Roseanne Barr (1990)

There are no words to describe this, except to ask if it had been a joke?!

Cyndi Lauper (2011)

The worst thing about Lauper's rendition was that it was sung on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks so it is unfortunate that she forgot the lyrics. Instead of the line: "Were so gallantly streaming," Lauper sang: "As our flag was still streaming."