It’s one of the most-performed songs in America and also one of the hardest to sing: the “Star-Spangled Banner”. Some performances give us chills that last decades (see: Whitney Houston, Jimi Hendrix), and some leave us cringing (see: Roseanne Barr).
With football in full swing and hockey and basketball right around the corner, be prepared to hear a lot more of the anthem. In honor of the beautiful tune, here are the top 10 national anthem performances by country stars.
10. Carrie Underwood
She’s performed it on the big stage several times, but something about her first Super Bowl performance after winning American Idol is particularly beautiful. And that last note…
9. Martina McBride
Nothing flashy, just classy Martina hitting every note during the 2004 World Series with ease and tenderness.
8. George Jones
The only performance on this list that is recorded, George Jones‘ version of the “Star-Spangled Banner” is one that only he could deliver. It’s kind of how you imagine a World War II veteran singing the anthem, and that’s something special.
7. Lady Antebellum
The only country act who has performed the anthem at nationally televised events as much as Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum always takes a unique approach. What a special performance it was in New York during the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attack.
6. LeAnn Rimes
LeAnn doesn’t spend much time in the spotlight nowadays, but when she comes out for a performance like this, we all remember just how amazing she is. She hits those runs and unique notes like they’ve always been part of the song.
5. Roy Orbison
Roy Orbison had one of the most unique and recognizable voices of the 20th century. After going out in hiding for a while, the famously shy singer made a comeback in the late ’80s. His smile at the end of the performance shows his appreciation of being welcomed back so warmly. Tragically, he passed away exactly two months after this performance.
4. Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks almost didn’t perform at this 1993 Super Bowl — he only agreed if they’d show a controversial music video of his. When the NFL backed out before the show, he left with 45 minutes to kick off. They frantically searched for a replacement (Jon Bon Jovi was in the stands and willing) before finally agreeing to Garth’s demand. It featured a classic “Garth Brooks” arrangement.
3. The Dixie Chicks
This Super Bowl performance was just a few months before the country world went crazy on the Chicks. Those harmony choices are flawless.
2. Zac Brown Band
Pick any number of factors that make this performance incredible: 1) they are performing four-part harmony 2) in the snow 3) in front of 105,000 screaming fans 4) for a matchup that actually features an American team versus a Canadian team.
1. Faith Hill
In 2000, Faith Hill set the standard for every female anthem singer that follows her. She has yet to be topped.