Before you all start, I'm a card carrying member of The Beyhive, I'm one of Mariah's lambs and one of Gaga's monsters and I'm sorry but none of them did it like Whitney. The fact that we are still talking about her version 20 plus years later is a testiment in and of itself that her version reigns supreme.
I dont remember the first time I heard the Star Spangled Banner but I remember the first time I heard Whitney's version. Every other female vocalist before and since heard it too because it has now become the standard on how the song is sang.
Her version was not without controversy though.
The engineer for the event revealed to USA Today that Houston was singing alongside an NFL-mandated pre-recording of the anthem, but that it was the non-live version that TV viewers were hearing.
[TV viewers heard Houston singing] plus her live voice, plus the audience reaction. She sang the melody and words the same way (as the studio version), but she sang her heart out.”
The NFL explained not long after that relying solely on a live performance was too risky.
Houston’s musical director later confirmed that Houston was singing into a dead mic and the star came in for some criticism for it, unfairly so. In a fascinating article about the anthem last year, ESPN’s Danyel Smith explained why there were no other options.
Jim Steef was, for over 25 years, in charge of the Super Bowl for the NFL. Four years ago, he recalled the lead-up to XXV’s opening ceremonies for SportsBusinessDaily.com: “In early January … our coordinator of Super Bowl pregame activities Bob Best … produced a recording of the Florida Orchestra for national anthem producer Rickey Minor. … A week later, Minor flew to Los Angeles to have Whitney record the vocal track. Amazingly … it was done in one take.”
Yes — Whitney Houston’s version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was prerecorded. “There’s no way to rehearse the sound of the crowd … coming at you,” Minor said years later. “You don’t know where the first note begins.”
The NFL had no qualms about the song being prerecorded, even if Houston would be criticized for it."
In case you need a reminder of its greatness check it out below.