Monday, February 2, 2009

Whitney vs. Jennifer: Who sings the best national anthem?

Each year since 1967, it has been the tradition of the Super Bowl to have someone sing the National Anthem. They've had a mix of genres and genders, and races.
Singers like Barry Manilow, Diana Ross, and Luther Vandross have all contributed their versions of the Star Spangled Banner to America.
However, much of the online debate has focused on three key ladies. Vanessa Williams, no? Not even Mariah Carey. YouTube viewers have been squabbling on about, yep you guessed it: Whitney Houston, Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce Knowles.
They've been ranking them back-to-back with the only consistent number one spot going to Ms. Houston.
I decided to compare and get in on the competition myself.
First, I want to give kudos to JHud for coming with her A-game, looking great, and singing their socks off even after her recent tragedy.
Of course I listened to Jennifer Hudson's 2009 Super Bowl rendition first and I must say initially it sounded great, until I clicked on a link to Beyonce's 2004 version followed by the popular 1991 Whitney Houston version.
How to decide? Well I have my own things I like to look for in music--being a singer and a guitar player in my former band--I like originality and vibrancy but not overdone.
YouTubers seemed more empathetic to Jennifer (and so am I for that matter), so it was hard to get past that, but I realized this is a fierce competition and only one can win.
I chose 1 part I really enjoyed from each:
She was by far the most effortless. Her microphone was on a stand below her shoulders--and she still had great power--and she looked like she was having a good time. But I must say when she recited the line "Gave PROOF through the night" it gave me chills, along with her overall arrangement.
Many people instantly have negative reactions to her. Why, I'll never know. My favorite note was when she sang "land of the freeEE." How can anyone slip into a different octave so quickly? Oh and she said brave twice, nice. Plus the epic musical composition always wins me over; she should try that more often.
I'll be honest. I didn't expect much from J-Hud. I didn't like her latest album, and well, besides her power, something is usually missing (in my humble opinion). She proved me wrong this year. It felt like she was wrapping a satin blanket around my body with her voice. It was soulful and arranged just for her. But her "home of the brave" ending sealed the deal quite well for her.
My rank? I'll have to agree with most YouTubers and put Whitney as my number one. Depending on my mood, Beyonce and Jennifer might get switched, but after Sunday night, Jennifer is going in my number two spot. Who can deny the soul she put in Sunday's performance (live or not)?
Maybe Faith Hill was my close fourth, minus the bagpipes!

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