“The Star-Spangled Banner” is the National Anthem of the United States. To celebrate their victory over British forces during the War of 1812, US soldiers raised a large American flag at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1814. Poet Francis Scott Key was inspired by seeing the flag after witnessing the fort’s bombardment and wrote a poem called “Defence of Fort M’Henry.” This eventually became the Star-Spangled Banner and the United States of America’s National Anthem. Set to the tune of a popular British song written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a men’s social club in London, this became the version that we know today.
Musicians over the years have honored our nation’s National Anthem by singing it at sporting events, Presidential Inaugurations and other major events. Requiring a wide vocal range, it is known for being very difficult to sing. Professional and amateur singers have been known to forget the words, which is one reason the song is sometimes pre-recorded and lip-synced. Although the poem has four stanzas, only the first is commonly sung today. Many artists have done it justice, with a few performances being lack-luster or overly done. “The Star-Spangled Banner” was first recognized for official use by the U.S. Navy in 1889. On March 3, 1931, the U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution making the song the official national anthem of the United States.
See how we ranked eight performances done by pop stars over the years below in celebration of the Fourth of July.