National anthem turns 200: hear its most iconic renditions

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Star Spangled Banner - US National Anthem - 200 anniversary
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National anthem turns 200: hear its most iconic renditions
This undated handout image provided by the US Postal Service shows Star Spangled Banner forever stamp. The Smithsonian Institution is beginning a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the flag and song that became the national anthem with a new forever stamp from the U.S. Postal Service. The star-spangled banner stamp was dedicated Thursday at the National Museum of American History. The Smithsonian has housed the flag that inspired the words for the national anthem since the early 1900s. (AP Photo/USPS)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 9: Overview of the grounds of Fort McHenry, the location of celebrations this week of the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner in Baltimore, MD on September 9, 2014. The lyrics come from Francis Scott Keys poem 'Defence of Fort M'Henry, jotted down the words while witnessing the British bombardment of the famous Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812. It was officially renamed The Star-Spangled Banner and offically recoginzed as the national anthem in 1931. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 9: Patrons walk among the canons and an merican flag flown at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, MD on September 9, 2014. This week marks the 200th anniversity of the Star-Spangled Banner. The lyrics come from Francis Scott Keys poem 'Defence of Fort M'Henry, jotted down the words while witnessing the British bombardment of the famous Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812. It was officially renamed The Star-Spangled Banner and offically recoginzed as the national anthem in 1931. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR MACY'S - Members of the Girard Academic Music Program perform at Macy's on Saturday, June 14, 2014, in Philadelphia. Macy's and the Smithsonian Museum salutes the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner with a special performance by The Girard Academic Music Program along with Grand Court Organist, Peter Richard Conte on the Wanamaker organ. (Michael Perez/AP Images for Macy's)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR MACY'S - Members of the Girard Academic Music Program perform at Macy's on Saturday, June 14, 2014, in Philadelphia. Macy's and the Smithsonian Museum salutes the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner with a special performance by The Girard Academic Music Program along with Grand Court Organist, Peter Richard Conte on the Wanamaker organ. (Michael Perez/AP Images for Macy's)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR MACY'S - Members of the Girard Academic Music Program perform at Macy's on Saturday, June 14, 2014, in Philadelphia. Macy's and the Smithsonian Museum salutes the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner with a special performance by The Girard Academic Music Program along with Grand Court Organist, Peter Richard Conte on the Wanamaker organ. (Michael Perez/AP Images for Macy's)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR MACY'S - Crowds gather on the main floor of Macy's Herald Square to hear the national anthem performed by the cast of the Broadway musical Newsies in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner on Flag Day, Saturday, June 14, 2014, in New York. (Jason DeCrow/AP Images for Macy's)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR MACY'S - Crowds gather on the main floor of Macy's Herald Square to hear the national anthem performed by the cast of the Broadway musical Newsies in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner on Flag Day, Saturday, June 14, 2014, in New York. (Jason DeCrow/AP Images for Macy's)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR MACY'S - Crowds gather on the main floor of Macy's Herald Square to hear the national anthem performed by the cast of the Broadway musical Newsies in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner on Flag Day, Saturday, June 14, 2014, in New York. (Jason DeCrow/AP Images for Macy's)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 13: Darlene McGinnis of Virginia Beach, VA, right, helps to hold up a large American flag during a changing of the flag event dring the Star-Spangled Spectacular which celebrates the 200th Anniversary of the penning of 'The Star-Spangled Banner' and the Battle of Baltimore at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine on Saturday September 13, 2014 in Baltimore, MD. (Photo by Matt McClain/ The Washington Post via Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 13: Reenactor, Gary Schwartz of Silver Spring, MD stands near an encampment as the Blue Angels fly overhead during the Star-Spangled Spectacular Air Show which was part of the festivities celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the penning of 'The Star-Spangled Banner' and the Battle of Baltimore at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine on Saturday September 13, 2014 in Baltimore, MD. (Photo by Matt McClain/ The Washington Post via Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 12: A giant American flag curls in the wind on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle where it is docked in the Inner Harbor as part of the Star Spangled Spectacular September 12, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the United States' national anthem, Baltimore's Inner Harbor is hosting tall ships, fireworks displays, concerts, historic tours and other events. The anthem's lyrics come from 'Defence of Fort M'Henry,' a poem written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key after he witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships during the War of 1812. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
The first known manuscript of Francis Scott Key's poem which became the US national anthem, known as The Star-Spangled Banner, is displayed at Fort McHenry in Baltimore on September 12, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 12: Visitors look at the tall ship Kalmar Nyckel from Wilmington, DE, where it is docked in the Inner Harbor as part of the Star Spangled Spectacular September 12, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the United States' national anthem, Baltimore's Inner Harbor is hosting tall ships, fireworks displays, concerts, historic tours and other events. The anthem's lyrics come from 'Defence of Fort M'Henry,' a poem written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key after he witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships during the War of 1812. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 12: A visitor poses for a photograph with the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle where it is docked in the Inner Harbor as part of the Star Spangled Spectacular September 12, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the United States' national anthem, Baltimore's Inner Harbor is hosting tall ships, fireworks displays, concerts, historic tours and other events. The anthem's lyrics come from 'Defence of Fort M'Henry,' a poem written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key after he witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships during the War of 1812. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 12: The U.S. Navy's Blue Angels aerobatic team practice over the Inner Harbor during the Star Spangled Spectacular September 12, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the United States' national anthem, Baltimore's Inner Harbor is hosting tall ships, fireworks displays, concerts, historic tours and other events. The anthem's lyrics come from 'Defence of Fort M'Henry,' a poem written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key after he witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships during the War of 1812. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 12: A U.S. flag with 15 stripes and 15 stars, like the one that was flown Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, frames the Battle Monument during the Star Spangled Spectacular September 12, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the United States' national anthem, Baltimore's Inner Harbor will host tall ships, fireworks displays, concerts, historic tours and other events. The anthem's lyrics come from 'Defence of Fort M'Henry,' a poem written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key after he witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships during the War of 1812. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A U.S. flag is displayed during the national anthem prior to an NFL football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Kenny Rogers, center, with Phillip Sweet, left, Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman and Jimi Westbrook of the band Little Big Town perform in concert during the Star-Spangled Spectacular Concert: Bicentennial of Our National Anthem at Pier Six Pavilion on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, in Baltimore. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)
Smokey Robinson performs in concert during the Star-Spangled Spectacular Concert: Bicentennial of Our National Anthem at Pier Six Pavilion on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, in Baltimore. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)
Melissa Etheridge performs in concert during the Star-Spangled Spectacular Concert: Bicentennial of Our National Anthem at Pier Six Pavilion on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, in Baltimore. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)
Kristin Chenoweth performs in concert during the Star-Spangled Spectacular: Bicentennial of Our National Anthem Concert at Pier Six Pavilion on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, in Baltimore. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)
Melissa Etheridge performs in concert during the Star-Spangled Spectacular: Bicentennial of Our National Anthem Concert at Pier Six Pavilion on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, in Baltimore. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)
Tess Altiveros sings the national anthem before a baseball game between the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014 in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
Paulo Szot, left, and Kristin Chenoweth perform in concert during the Star-Spangled Spectacular Concert: Bicentennial of Our National Anthem at Pier Six Pavilion on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, in Baltimore. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)
Avi Kaplan, from left, Kirstie Maldonado, Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi and Kevin Olusola of the vocal group Pentatonix perform in concert during the Star-Spangled Spectacular Concert: Bicentennial of Our National Anthem at Pier Six Pavilion on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, in Baltimore. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 13: Members of the President's Own Marine Band stand during a fireworks display commemorating the bicentennial of the writing of The Star-Spangled Banner at Fort McHenry National Historic Park on September 13, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. The poem verses were written by Francis Scott Key in the War of 1812, during a British naval bombardment of Fort McHenry from the Chesapeake Bay, and adopted as The National Anthem 200 years ago. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 13: The Francis Scott Key School notice board wishes a happy birthday to The Star-Spangled Banner before a ceremony commemorating the bicentennial of the writing of the national anthem at Fort McHenry National Historic Park on September 13, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. The poem verses were written by Francis Scott Key in the War of 1812, during a British naval bombardment of Fort McHenry from the Chesapeake Bay, and adopted as The National Anthem 200 years ago. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 13: Vice President Joe Biden and Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley observe the national anthem during a ceremony commemorating the bicentennial of the writing of The Star-Spangled Banner at Fort McHenry National Historic Park on September 13, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. The poem verses were written by Francis Scott Key in the War of 1812, during a British naval bombardment of Fort McHenry from the Chesapeake Bay, and adopted as The National Anthem 200 years ago. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 13: A fireworks display concludes a ceremony to commemorate the bicentennial of the writing of The Star-Spangled Banner at Fort McHenry National Historic Park on September 13, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. The poem verses were written by Francis Scott Key in the War of 1812, during a British naval bombardment of Fort McHenry from the Chesapeake Bay, and adopted as The National Anthem 200 years ago. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 13: Attendees with a patriotic balloon gather on the lawn for the start of a ceremony commemorating the bicentennial of the writing of The Star-Spangled Banner at Fort McHenry National Historic Park on September 13, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. The poem verses were written by Francis Scott Key in the War of 1812, during a British naval bombardment of Fort McHenry from the Chesapeake Bay, and adopted as The National Anthem 200 years ago. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 13: War of 1812 reenactors watch a fireworks display following a ceremony to commemorate the bicentennial of the writing of The Star-Spangled Banner at Fort McHenry National Historic Park on September 13, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. The poem verses were written by Francis Scott Key in the War of 1812, during a British naval bombardment of Fort McHenry from the Chesapeake Bay, and adopted as The National Anthem 200 years ago. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
BYDGOSZCZ, POLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: USA's team during the national anthem during the FIVB World Championships match between Argentina and USA on September 14, 2014 in Bydgoszcz, Poland. (Photo by Adam Nocon/Getty Images for FIVB)
SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: The American Flag is displayed during the National Anthem before a game between the Seattle Seahawks and San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on September 14, 2014 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 13: A detailed view of Michigan Stadium during the playing of the National Anthem prior to the start of the game between the Miami University Redhawks and the Michigan Wolverines on September 13, 2014 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. the Wolverines defeated the Redhawks 34-10. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 13: A detailed view of Michigan Stadium during the playing of the National Anthem prior to the start of the game between the Miami University Redhawks and the Michigan Wolverines on September 13, 2014 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. the Wolverines defeated the Redhawks 34-10. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 09: The National Anthem is performed before game two of the WNBA Finals between the Chicago Sky and the Phoenix Mercury at US Airways Center on September 9, 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 06: Nick Jonas performs the National Anthem on day 14 of the 2014 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 7, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Uri Schanker/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 07: Nick Jonas performs the National Anthem prior to the women's singles final on Day fourteen of the 2014 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 7, 2014 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
A flag is unfurled in the outfield during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner before a baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park, Friday, July 4, 2014, in Washington. This year is the 200th anniversary of Francis Scott Key's famous song. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 14: The scoreboard displays a message to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner prior to the game between the Detroit Tigers and the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park on September 14, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Indians 6-4. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
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(NEWSY) It's been 200 years since Francis Scott Key wrote the words to the iconic song that is performed everywhere from middle school assemblies to the Super Bowl. Yet despite it's vintage, "The Star-Spangled Banner" still holds the power to unite a nation - even if we don't love every rendition we hear.

While everyone tries their best to do the song justice, there are some performances that stay with us. In the song's 200 year history, it wasn't until the last 50 years or so that musical artists began putting their own signature on the classic ballad - which garnered mixed reactions.

"Some thought it was brilliant, others considered it disrespectful," according to NBC.

One such performance came from Whitney Houston at the 1991 Super Bowl. Giving one of the most memorable National Anthem performances of all time, Houston's rendition came at an important time for the country.

National Anthem Turns 200: Hear Its Most Iconic Renditions

"With America immersed in the Persian Gulf War, the song was more than a prelude to a game. It spoke to a nation," the Wall Street Journal reported.

The electric performance was so popular, Houston's record label put it out as a single and upon its release it climbed to the top 20 on the Billboard charts.

"It may well be, with the exception of her version of Dolly Parton's, 'I Will Always Love You,' the most remembered thing about her," Billboard magazine editor, Danyel Smith, told ABC News.

But if there's a mark against Houston and her Super Bowl 25 Star-Spangled Banner performance, it's the controversy over whether or not the singer was lip-syncing, Smith said.

Which brings us to another famed performance, which unlike Houston's rendition, was live and remarkably bizarre. The artist in question? Jimi Hendrix.

"Jimi Hendrix reinvented it from top to bottom as a showcase for what could be done with extreme, high-volume electric guitar distortion, his riffs often interpreted as mimicking weapons explosions and bombs dropping from the sky," Rolling Stone wrote of the guitar god's Woodstock performance in August 1969.

While the performance received harsh criticism and left members of the audience clearly stunned by his revamp, it is certainly one of the most iconic versions of the 200-year-old anthem.

Marvin Gaye also took his turn at the Star Spangled Banner, but not the way anyone imagined. The Motown legend shocked the audience and the nation with his soulful rendition when he performed the classic in 1983.

"Gaye did handstands on the anthem's proper stylistic plank," Grantland wrote of the re-imagined performance.

For a song that is performed literally hundreds of thousands of times all over the country, every year it's impressive to be able to stand out in the crowd.

Which artist's version is your favorite rendition? Let us know in the comments.

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