Whitney Houston’s performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” from the Super Bowl is justifiably making the rounds. It’s really something.
How good is it? I’m not sure anyone will top Spencer Hall’s description:
She destroys it. Just fucking annihilates the anthem, careening full-throttle into every high note. She had no reason to hesitate: the song was lip-synced, something you probably found out later and are still somewhat surprised by because seriously, watch her lips quiver, the chest rise with the inhalation. She could have nailed it live. For all we know, she did. The anthem’s singing her. She’s a medium for something Francis Scott Key never knew was in there, a voice that’s neither feminine nor masculine, an arrest of the eyes towards an invisible American flag that appears somewhere in the distance no matter when or where you hear it.
More than anything, it is a motherfucking anthem. It is what Yosemite falls sounds like when you put your ear to it. It is the sun rising over a grey New Jersey shoreline morning. After you hear it, you want to strike plowshares to swords, or swords to plowshares. Pointed in the right direction, you can and will do either, most likely while getting a tattoo of George S. Patton riding Secretariat on your back.
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