Super Bowl 2016: A History of National Anthem Singers
Lady Gaga will sing the song before this year's game.
February 7, 2016, 5:32 AM
• 4 min read
-- This Sunday, Lady Gaga will take the stage to sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl.
She'll be the first bona fide pop superstar to sing the anthem since 2013, when Alicia Keys did it.
The last two anthems were sung by Tony-winning Broadway star and actress Idina Menzel, and opera legend Renee Fleming. Prior to that, we had six years of female pop divas taking the mic, including Keys, Christina Aguilera, and four "American Idol" alums: Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Jordin Sparks and Carrie Underwood.
The last time a male performer sang the anthem was in 2007, at Super Bowl 41, when Billy Joel did the honors. Joel is one of only two artists ever to have done it twice. In addition to Super Bowl XVI, he also sang the anthem at Super Bowl XXIII back in 1989. The other artist who's done it twice is Aaron Neville, in 1990 and in 2006.
The very first real, chart-certified pop star to sing the anthem at the Super Bowl was Diana Ross, in 1982. Prior to that, the anthem was performed by marching bands, instrumentalists, choirs, country star Charley Pride and a bunch of middle-of-the-road female singers and actresses, including former "Charlie's Angels" star Cheryl Ladd. The first male pop singer to do the honors was Barry Manilow in 1984.
Most cite Whitney Houston's performance of the national anthem in 1991 as one of the best Super Bowl anthem performances ever. Her performance made a big impact, not just because she sang so well, but because it came during the Gulf War. Her rendition was so popular it was released as a single, was included on her greatest hits album, and was re-released to capture the patriotic spirit after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.