Country crooner Luke Bryan will belt out the national anthem at the Super Bowl on Sunday, February 5, placing him in a long line of talents who've had the honor (and courage) to sing the country's most weighty song in front of millions of judging eyes.
Though there have been plenty of times anthem singers have fumbled the ball, often the song that kicks off the game can be a more of a touchdown than the ones happening on the field. Here, eight renditions of "The Star-Spangled Banner" more memorable than the game.
8. Kelly Clarkson, 2012
God bless Kelly and her pipes, backed by a cherubic set of kids. Well done, ma'am. But did you remember this was the first time the Big Game had been played in Indiana? Probably not.
7. Mariah Carey, 2002
Who else could make the "The Star-Spangled Banner" sound like something that comes out of a windup box and shoots out butterflies, glitter and rainbows out of a canon? This is such ancient history that one of the game's teams, the St. Louis Rams, isn't even in St. Louis anymore.
6. Beyonce, 2004
This was when Beyonce was "merely" a celebrity — not the Queen B who run the world and would go on to slay the entire Super Bowl itself, once so hard that the lights went out and the other time so royally she kicked off protests and a whole year of peak black TV. Also, this was the year of Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake's ill-fated Boobgate so yeah, the fact that the Patriots beat the Panthers is definitely long forgotten.
5. Faith Hill, 2000
Simple, stirring and spectacular — due in large part to that orchestra and the tough confidence of her strong voice... And totally overshadowing that Kurt Warner was MVP of a match held at the Georgia Dome.
4. Luther Vandross, 1997
R&B renditions can be divisive. Nobody wants to hear a 12-minute version of a symbolic song going through more loop-de-loops than a rollercoaster car. But Luther Vandross is smooth, and his buttery take managed to be sexy and respectful. But did you remember that this was the year the Packers' Desmond Howard set a record for punt return yards? Ha. Sure you did.
3. Lady Gaga, 2016
Remember, if you can (2016 was kind of a rough year, so it's OK if you don't) when we first learned Gaga would sing the national anthem? The announcement that cued a bunch of "What's She Gonna Do?!" and meat dress cracks led up to this: a remarkably toned-down and reverent — and frankly beautiful — take on the song. This, by the way, was another piece in the re-invention of Gaga from a shock-pop artist to a bona fide, real-deal musician. She rocked it, just as she's likely to rock her halftime show this year. Also, Beyonce's "Formation" happened this year. Who played? Who even cares.
2. Jennifer Hudson, 2009
OK, to be fair, this was the year of that super intense fight between the Steelers and the Cardinals, with Arizona scoring 16 consecutive points to take the lead with less than three minutes left in the game before Pittsburgh came back for the win. And yet! If there's a voice that you believe can make rockets glare and bombs burst in air, Hudson's is the one. Whew.
1. Whitney Houston, 1991
Houston was at the height of her career when she performed the anthem, still able to ooze out sounds as pristine and crisp as snow. This came right at the start of the Gulf War too, when the call for patriotism was high. Effortlessly rocking a uber-90s tracksuit, Whitney delivered a spine-tingling rendition that still gives anyone with a pulse chills. Sure, the Giants beat the Bills 20-19 but this was a cultural moment that lives on — so much so that it rose to the Billboard Top 10 after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Super Bowl LI is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 5 on Fox.