The gold standard at this point still remains Whitney Houston's at Super Bowl XXV. The one thing to remember about that performance, though, was that it was a prerecorded version that played live in the stadium.
That's to take nothing away from what Houston did, but it should always remembered when thinking about that performance's legacy.
Keys went all out without having to lip-sync whatsoever. You can view it below.
Some might be arguing that since Keys doesn't have any hometown ties to New Orleans, she wasn't a proper choice. She is one of the best pure singers in music today and more than deserved to sing at the biggest American sporting event of the year.
In addition, it's not as if fans get excited to watch the national anthem like they do the halftime show. There's not much spectacle to be had in singing such a reverent song.
It would have been OK for her to come out and just get in and out in a little over a minute. That wouldn't have made the performance memorable. She just would have been another talented singer performing the Star-Spangled Banner.
The editions that are remembered the most are those where the singer adds a little bit here and there.
Marvin Gaye had the best performance ever at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game. He was able to mold the anthem in his personal style without butchering it.
Keys had the potential to really drag out the national anthem to a length that would be a little too self-indulgent. It looked like in the beginning that it might go that way, but she did well to wrap it up in a reasonable amount of time.
In that time, Keys was able to add enough personal touches without ruining the anthem or making it unbearable.
If Gaye is the positive end of the spectrum, R. Kelly shows what Keys' performance could have been, as shown below.
He sang before a Jermain Taylor and Bernard Hopkins fight, and the result was an anthem that wasn't terrible but with just a little bit too much R. Kelly. The swing dancers, especially, were a tad too over the top for something like the Star-Spangled Banner.
Keys absolutely nailed it in a performance that did the national anthem justice while providing plenty of entertainment as well.