You want your National Anthem sung right? You call an American Idol alum. At least that seems to be the consistent (and, to be honest, correct) message brought to you by the good folks of the NFL. Last year’s Super Bowl found Jennifer Hudson singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” while this year’s NFC and AFC conference championship games brought Kris Allen and Jordin Sparks to the mic to get in touch with their inner patriots (national, not New England). And for tonight’s all-eyes-are-locked-on-it game, we got Idol‘s season 4 champ and ubiquitous country queen Carrie Underwood offering her own (not-surprisingly) exquisite twist on the National Anthem.
Clad in a dazzling white pantsuit, a top that looked like it was made from the scales of a silver reptile, and a pair of “whoa, mama!” platform heels (in other words, your basic Storm Trooper chic), Carrie stepped up to the mic without a hint of nervousness and delivered the goods under pressure. This wasn’t a make-it-your-own “Star-Spangled Banner,” but rather, a traditional rendition that was clear, powerful, and heartfelt. But honestly, when it comes to the National Anthem, do we really want singers taking liberties with the melody? For the love of Francis Scott Key, I would like to offer my own resounding answer to that question: “Heck, no!” And so, The Lady Underwood keeps intact a record of vocal spotlessness* that would be the envy of even an Indianapolis fan. In other words…well played, Ms. Underwood, well played.
As for Queen Latifah’s “America the Beautiful,” I’ll offer slightly less enthusiastic props, with the caveat that the Queen was clearly struggling with a wonky earpiece from the get-go. And so while the opening few lines seemed plagued by nerves/frustration, the Oscar-nominated singer/rapper/actress recovered nicely, getting her riff on with an “I love America” ad-lib that meshed nicely with a full children’s chorus. (The pre-show’s funniest moment? That little boy in the front row who gave a legendary side-eye to the camera while waiting for his part to kick in. Oh-em-gee indeed!)
What did you think of Carrie’s “Star-Spangled Banner”? The Queen’s “America the Beautiful”? Sound off in the comments below, and don’t miss EW’s live-blog of Super Bowl XLIV (everything but the game!) happening over at our PopWatch blog! (Also, if you’re not already, you ought to do your civic duty and follow EW’s Music Mix blog @EWMusicMix, and your resident Idoloonie @EWMichaelSlezak!)
*No, I am not counting that final note — which found a cacophonous match in the crowd’s enthusiastic roar — against our gal.
Related: Check out our brand-new, three-part Q&A with Idol’s season 7 champ (and Carrie collaborator) David Cook!