Super Howl: Who Should Sing the Anthem?

First, in defense of Madonna as halftime show performer, the erstwhile Material Girl has just that—oodles of material—to work with. And yet she has been passed off as a “karaoke singer” (et tu, Gene Simmons?) and an over-the-hill, washed-up pop diva. Smacks of ageism, if you ask me. (And you didn’t.)

Peter Hartlaub, pop culture critic for the San Francisco Chroniclegets it right: “While we often hear a call for younger/more relevant acts playing during the Super Bowl, I’ve never felt that way. I look at the halftime show performance as a lifetime achievement thing—a chance to honor a band or artist that has stood the test of time, and still can knock out a strong live performance.” Madonna is every bit as deserving in that respect as, say, U2 or Prince.

Even before that, there is a Star Spangled Banner to be sung. Believe it or not, there’s a campaign underway to “recruit” acclaimed gospel singer (and central Indiana native) Sandi Patty to sing the national anthem at Super Bowl XLVI. What’s more, nearly 7,000 people have “liked” its Facebook page.

She certainly wouldn’t be worse than one Christina Aguilera’s epic anthem flub last year. Patty has sung the tune a multitude of times to date, before presidents and plebeians alike. Just witness this robust sound on a 1986 Peter Jennings newscast, or her 1997 redux performance.

Still, the national anthem requires a vocalist who is uber-talented, current, and widely known. Think of the omnipresent Beyoncé—she wailed through the tune in her hometown of Houston—or Jennifer Hudson on the heels of her Oscar-snagging turn in Dreamgirls. Indiana’s own John Mellencamp: not so timely. Sadly, the same goes for Patty.

In related news, Aguilera reportedly wants a redo on the anthem at the Super Bowl. Or is, you know, coolly “open” to the idea.

Who do you think should belt it out to start the big night?