Beyonce vs. Whitney: Battle of the "Banner"

Categories: Miles-tones

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"The Star-Spangled Banner," our nation's national anthem, is a notoriously difficult song to sing. Often arranged in an unforgiving key for vocalists, the melody is full of tricky intervals that make it even more precarious. This is a major reason most of the people around you at Astros and Texans game are only mouthing the words. The other reason is that no one can ever quite seem to remember exactly what Francis Scott Key's lyrics are. [Thanks to Ramon Medina for the fix.]

But sung correctly, it can be profoundly stirring and inspiring, like a national anthem should be.

And it must be sung -- often by very famous and talented singers who manage not to butcher it so badly -- at important ceremonial events such as football games and presidential inagurations, one of which happened yesterday in Washington, D.C. Rocks Off thought we'd take Houston-born Beyoncé's inaugural "Banner" from Monday and put it side by side with another famous renditon, perhaps the most famous recent version, the late Whitney Houston singing the anthem before Super Bowl XXV in January 1991.

Bonus Trivia: What two teams played in the Super Bowl the year Houston sang the anthem, and who won the game?


  • Age: 31
  • Accessory: green earrings
  • Historical Context: Obama's second inauguration
  • Arrangement: Symphonic
  • Accompaniment: Orchestra
  • Lyrical Accuracy: 100 percent
  • Phrasing: Normal
  • Dynamics: Starts soft, builds to robust volume
  • Percentage on Key: 90-95 percent
  • Mistakes: Voice breaks on "proof"
  • Controversy: Supposed difficulty with vocal monitor; lip-syncing allegations
  • Crescendo (glasses shattered out of possible five): three
  • Aftermath: Happened yesterday

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Truth be told...the very best rendition I've ever heard of "The Star Bangled Banner" LIVE was done by Barbara Johnson Tucker of Houston, Texas.


And now the controversy is, "Who's studio performance of the anthem which was then lip-sync'd in front of a national/global audience was better?"

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