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Countdown: Top Five National Anthem Performances

Posted on May 18, 2010 by Patrick Moran

This is the first in a series that will countdown a list of the best—and worst that sports have to offer. Today we’re counting down the five best National Anthem performances in American sports.

Since this no exact science many will disagree.  For our part, we’re offering apologies to Jennifer Hudson, Faith Hill, Beyonce and Josh Grobin among countless others.  All received consideration and could’ve easily have made the list.

There’s also a limit of how far  back videos are generally available on the internet.  Our countdown ranges from as recent as 2007  to as far back as 1983.

Without further ado.

5.  2007 Dallas Mavericks game- Sung by Jerry Stackhouse

More than his vocals, Stackhouse gets the nod here because of guts. He’s no professional singer, yet he got in front of a sold-out Dallas crowd and made his teammates proud, not to mention most athletes that have tried and failed miserably to pull this off (especially you, Carl Lewis)


4.  2007 World Series National Anthem- Sung by Carrie Underwood

It’s been quite the run for Carrie Underwood since being crowned the American Idol winner in 2005. She’s won multiple Grammys and Country Music Awards, but one of her best moments came in Denver, Colorado when she gave a flawless performance of our anthem before game three of the World Series between the Rockies and Red Sox.


3. Super Bowl XXV National Anthem- Sung by Whitney Houston

In terms of pure vocal performances, it doesn’t get any better than this. In front one of the largest audiences to ever turn on a television set and during the Persian Gulf War, Houston knocked it out of the park with a rendition that left most speechless, including a pair of Buffalo Bills who played in the Super Bowl that I spoke with about it; Darryl Talley and Thurman Thomas.

“I was never so proud to be an American as I was at that moment,” Thomas told me.

Unfortunately for the Bills and their fans, this historic moment would be overshadowed by the lowest point in franchise history exactly 59:52 of game clock later.

Still, I’m sure many people will have this at the top of their countdown.


2. 1983 NBA All Star Game- Sung by Marvin Gaye

It will probably take you all of three seconds to remember a better vocal rendition of the anthem.  However, good luck finding a more unique version.  Marvin Gaye did something that no artist before or since has ever done; he made the national anthem sound sexy.

In fact, if you happened to be around “that age” when this was performed in 1983 and were getting ready to watch the game with your soul mate, there’s a decent chance you didn’t see the opening tip—if you catch my drift.


1. 1991 NHL All Star Game- Sung by Wayne Messmer.

Who is Wayne Messmer? Who cares?  I implore you to ever find an anthem performance that registered a higher octave of American patriotism. Done in Chicago prior to the NHL All-Star game during the midst of the Persian Gulf War, this raucous crowd decided that waiting anything past the first organ chord would be too long to get on their feet.

On a personal level, I’ll never forget this moment.  It took place shortly after my father; a military veteran himself had passed away.  Still in a relative emotional daze, I had the game but wasn’t paying much attention to the telecast. Within seconds of this however, I was utterly captivated.


What do you think? Who did we miss and where would you rank them?

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4 Comments on Countdown: Top Five National Anthem Performances

  1. MattRichWarren

    Whitney Houston’s performance, in the midst of turmoil in the gulf, with both teams and their fans wearing red, white, and blue will always be number one on this list. I play it for my students when we study the National Anthem every year. It even climbed into the top 20 on the Billboard charts.

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  3. Patrick Moran

    I agree that it was amazing, but I took into consideration the “outta nowhere” factor with the NHL All-Star anthem. That crowd was nothing like I’ve ever seen before.

    And as for Marvin Gaye- again, he simply made a standard song sung by millions flat-out sexy.

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