Country music artist Chris Stapleton turned in one of the most memorable renditions of the national anthem ever for the Super Bowl in the game’s storied history, according to countless viewers who turned in to see the pregame ritual.
Stapleton, the third consecutive country music singer to be honored with the privilege of singing the Star-Spangled Banner, did not disappoint with his soulful, tear-jerking performance. The song lasted two minutes and one second.
“Grown-a** men crying to Chris Stapleton singing the national anthem,” one Twitter user wrote. “Wow, this one is right up there with Whitney Houston’s performance. Just amazing.”
Another said they were still “mopping up tears” after listening to the powerfully moving singing.
Take a look as Stapleton brings down the house in his 2023 Super Bowl premiere:
Most famous for the waterworks was Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach Nick Siranni. Sirrani, the second-year coach for the favored NFC team (who lost 38-35 in a back and forth contest against the Kansas City Chiefs) was visibly tearing up during Stapleton’s performance. He immediately went viral for all the right reasons.
Fans say Stapleton’s cover rivals, though perhaps not quite eclipses, the iconic 1991 rendition performed by then-27-year-old megastar Whitney Houston.
In that unforgettable performance, Houston famously slowed down her version to increase the drama of the already-moving song.
Business Insider remembered how it all came together in the early 1990s.
The singer had traveled to Los Angeles in 1991 after doing a screentest for “The Bodyguard” and recorded the track per the NFL’s request. Despite the NFL’s protests, however, Houston, Minor, and bassist-arranger John L. Clayton had slowed down the song, ostensibly in an effort to showcase Houston’s vocals more and infuse the song with a more dramatic flair.
One of the song’s producers – what fans heard was a pre-recorded version while Whitney sang live into a dead mic – recalled that she needed just two takes to achieve the final product. The song itself would go on to be a Top 20 single.
“She said, ‘No, just put it [the song] up — it’ll be fine,’ So I played it one time, and she listened,” producer Rickey Minor said years later. “She said, ‘Okay, got it. She goes, and she does it, and there’s nothing really to do. So I just had to do it a second time, just because she was already warmed up. And I used just a little of that second track because ‘rockets red glare’ was a little more powerful than the first time. That was the only change.”
Business Insider continued its praise of the one-of-a-kind rendition, noting that critics and fandom alike seem settled on declaring it perhaps “the best” version ever released.
Regardless, Houston’s performance of the national anthem would be regarded as one of the best, if not the best, in the years and decades to come, with Helena Andrew-Dyer of The Washington Post writing Houston’s version “voided all other versions.”
Unlike Houston, who taped her version, it appears that Stapleton belted out his live. That’s no small feat. For music purists, there is nothing better than seeing and hearing a piece in real time. At the end of the day, though, they were both fantastic in their own ways, and showcased what was best both about themselves as well as the song itself.
In a time when half this nation, and certainly the party that represents that half, wants to dismantle and tear down everything great about America, it is refreshing – even necessary – to be reminded that there is still an unmistakable pride about this great country.