By Ken Tucker
Updated January 21, 2013 at 05:56 PM EST

There were a lot of whoops and hollers of encouragement to be heard, picked up by the TV networks, as the President took his oath of office today. It was followed by Obama’s rich inaugural address — stump-speech content raised to a higher level of discourse — and then two musical performances: Kelly Clarkson’s rendition of “America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee)” and Beyonce’s interpretation of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Clarkson’s “America” left Sen. Chuck Schumer reduced to an impressed exclamation — “Wow!” — that was merited. Clarkson, thoroughly charming as she scurried anxiously to the microphone, rendered a thoughly-in-command belting of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.”

Beyonce had to interpret one of the most notoriously difficult pieces of classic American music. But, doffing her ear-phone mid-way through, Beyonce took control of Francis Scott Key’s sprawling composition, singing it with spare eloquence for most of its length, and then letting loose at the end with a rousing finale.

The President had been preceded by James Taylor performing “America the Beautiful,” in an arrangement he’s been using in concert in recent years.

On CBS earlier in the day, Taylor told Charlie Rose he’d briefly thought of running for the Massachusetts Senate seat if John Kerry became Secretary of State. I think by the standards upheld today, Beyonce or Clarkson could hold their own on the Senate floor as well as Taylor might have, don’t you?

Twitter: @kentucker