All this talk about Beyonce, her performance of the national anthem, and the upcoming Super Bowl is reason enough to revisit the only thing that matters about sports (besides Matthew Modine‘s sexy mat moves in Vision Quest): bombastic performances of “The Star Spangled Banner.” We’re all familiar with the Whitney Houston, Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix, and Roseanne versions, but here are seven others that should be elevated to their level of pop culture ubiquity.
7. Marc Anthony
Some of us only think of Marc Anthony as the last man to pop in 1999′s “Latin explosion,” but his voice is a rich and emotional instrument even when he’s crooning the most well-known song of all. Come on, Enrique. Step up to this DNC masterwork.
6. Mary J. Blige
Mary J. isn’t always my favorite singer (even if she’s always my favorite chicken shiller ), but I have to hand it to her for this gem. All the drama, soul, and grandiosity I’ve come to expect from the woman who was once kickass enough just purring those jams from What’s the 411?
5. Fantasia Barrino
Fantasia’s pop culture presence is an evolving, dubious creature, but the thing that remains most important is her singular voice, the one that brought Elton John to tears during her performance of “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word.” Here, she sells you star-spangled seriousness while surrounded by NASCAR types and checkered flags. That’s commitment.
4. Adam Lambert
It is my deeply unpopular opinion that Kris Allen played a better game on American Idol than Adam Lambert, even if Adam’s voice is the winged, mythological, thundering rhinestone valkyrie wail that it is. Though his best moment will always be his bonkers performance of “A Change is Gonna Come,” you can learn all you need to know about Adam from this casually amazing version of the national anthem. He’s not even trying to have that much control. He just does.