The 12 Best National Anthem Performances of All Time

Published: Friday 4th Jul 2014 by Derrick

Just about every major singer gets the opportunity to perform the United States National Anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” at some point in their career. Some take a traditional approach while others risk it all by putting their own spin on the American classic.

In honor to Independence Day, we’ve compiled the 12 best renditions of all time.

Make no mistake about it, these performances are both notable and awe-inspiring. From Beyonce‘s flawless performance in 2004 and Alicia Keys‘ lengthy impressive piano version in 2013 to the best who ever did it, Whitney Houston, each of these renditions captures the spirit of America.

After the jump, see who else landed a spot on the coveted list.

12. Luther Vandross

Luther Vandross, one of the great R&B veterans of the ’80s and ’90s paired down the anthem and added a layer of sheer sophistication.

11.  Carrie Underwood

Leave it to the country star of the group to add a bit of twang to the anthem. Her vocal performance is strong and dazzling.

10.  Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson brought the house down at the 2009 Super Bowl. Like everyone knew she would, Ms. Hudson showcased major control over her powerful instrument.

9. Alicia Keys

Keys proved why she’s the queen of the piano driven ballad in her slowed down (and we mean slowed down) version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Keys’ performance holds the record for the longest National Anthem ever sung at a Super Bowl clocking in at 156.4 seconds!

8.  Kelly Clarkson

With a little bit country and rock and roll, Kelly Clarkson sails through her powerful performance with ease and grace.

7. Beyoncé

A fresh-faced Beyoncé delivered a beautiful and symphonic laced rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” in 2004. She nearly brought the stadium to tears as she raised the bar for herself—once again.

6. Destiny’s Child

The vocal trifecta also known as Destiny’s Child blew everyone away at the 2006 NBA All-Star Game with a memorable rendition. Complete with unforgettable harmonies and solos, it was one performance fans won’t soon forget.

5. Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey is known as THE Voice. She sets aside the dramatics and gives it straight proving her vocal game is incomparable.

4. Aretha Franklin

A virtually unrecognizable Aretha Franklin gave the anthem a heavy, heavy dose of soul in 1992.

3. Patti LaBelle

Pattie LaBelle’s rendition left most of the audience present (and at home) deaf but stunned. Despite the critics, it was worth a standing ovation.

2. Marvin Gaye

Gaye  provides perhaps the most original rendition of the anthem to date. The 1983 version is effortless, sonically pleasing and sexy–if we may say so!

1. Whitney Houston

Houston set the bar high in 1992 when she belted out the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. Today it remains THE definitive version. Often replicated but never duplicated.

Who gave your delivered your favorite version of all time? Tell us!

Your thoughts?

Comments 134

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  1. Iconic Cici July 4, 2014

    Lmao at Beyonce at #7 kiii

    • DIGGER BEY July 4, 2014

      Kii You should be laughing @ why nobody will ever put Lesseriara on their vocal list kii kii

    • Fine Ass Lou July 4, 2014

      What about her lip-synced inauguration performance
      of the national anthem 2012? That should be number 1 lmao

      • Kanye Kardashian July 5, 2014

        Yes the illuminati should be given an oscar for lip synching that masterpiece.

      • DIGGER BEY July 5, 2014

        Biitch that was her Voice. She added background vocals when she took ear piece out. Must be mad The President doesn’t know or fav kii kii

      • DIGGER BEY July 5, 2014

        Kii And Kim KaTrashian should be given the Oscar for playing the role of the biggest cuum licking sluut ever kii kii

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  2. Mimi Carey July 4, 2014

    Whitney and DC3 >>>>
    The rest were FORGETTABLE tbh.

    • Grande July 4, 2014

      Especially Mariahs.

    • Yo Grande July 4, 2014

      Especially Mariahs.

      • Mimi Carey July 4, 2014

        Not a BLANDe stan

      • Yo Grande July 4, 2014

        Mad cause Ariana can hit a note unlike Hogriah?

      • Mimi Carey July 4, 2014

        Actually I’m mad because Yours FLOPly isn’t gold

      • Yo Grande July 4, 2014

        Neither is me i am a fading flop pig

      • Mimi Carey July 4, 2014

        13 albums in. Let’s compare debut albums shall we? 😀

      • Kii July 4, 2014

        Kii compare with some one who f***** Tony Motolla fora contract and made him buy all her records even worse discounting her trash to 49 cents kii stay mad you dirty hogriah Stan your b**** is nothing but irrelevant and a has been
        She will forever bow down to Madonna who still remains relevant after 30

      • Mimi Carey July 4, 2014

        LMAO oh ok so that must be why Mariah has been outselling Grandmadonna since the early 2000’s?

      • Kii July 4, 2014

        Receipts please!!!
        Don’t bring up sales when you know you can’t back up your trash talk

    • Mimi Carey July 4, 2014

      I’m not searching for no Grandmadonna receipts when this had nothing to do with her haggard ass in the first place kii

      • Ray July 4, 2014

        Girl please. Tommy mottolla set mariah’s records for 49cents? Haha gag. That is true. I never seen her s*** for less than 13.99 cd and 10.99 cassette in 90’s i am 26. The s*** you trynna spill for Ariana.

  3. Iconic Cici July 4, 2014

    Wasn’t Whitneys lip synced? so why is hers #1?

    • Mimi Carey July 4, 2014

      Most of them are. Where is Ciara’s?

      • Yo Grande July 4, 2014

        Ciaras is in hiding like Hogriahs vocals

    • Paul July 4, 2014

      So was Jennifer’s

      • Mimi Carey July 4, 2014

        And Beyonces.

    • JOHNVIDAL July 4, 2014

      Most of them are. But I have to say Whitney herself, Mariah with America the beautiful and Celine with God Bless America proved they could do it live too in a different occasion.

    • RoyalKev July 4, 2014

      Whitney didn’t lip often, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary for this occasion. Whitney has slayed the SSB completely live before!

  4. DIGGER BEY July 4, 2014

    WHITNEY! WHITNEY! WHITNEY! The Best Female Singer of All Time! #AND THATS ALL

    • Molly July 4, 2014

      Beyonce could never.

      • DIGGER BEY July 4, 2014

        Lol Broke Ass Hoee Get the fawk out my reply section before I turn your ass over, stupid bipolar cumbucket biitch

      • Proud-Arianator July 4, 2014

        If I were your mama I’d smack the filth right outta you
        Can’t have a child like you spewing such filth all over the place

      • BEYHIVE_MINAJ July 4, 2014

        Sis…Ciara stans shouldn’t criticize vocals.

    • RoyalKev July 4, 2014

      Preach Digger!

    • DIGGER BEY July 4, 2014

      That Mariana Stan sooooo Obsessed with me kii kii. Who are you? Why do u keep internet stalking me? #FIND UR LIFE

      • DIGGER BEY July 4, 2014


    • Rach July 4, 2014

      YES, Digger u better stan for real talent!! Whitney and Beyonce forever!! I wonder y Rihanna and Ciara have never been asked to SING the national anthem? oh ya cuz they can’t sing.

      • DIGGER BEY July 4, 2014

        Always!! Kii I would love to see Ciara or R**** attempt to sing that song. I wouldnt be able to control myself with soooooo much laughter kii ki

  5. Yo Grande July 4, 2014

    Beyonce performance was lipped?

    • Mimi Carey July 4, 2014

      Still better than anything BLANDe could do b****

  6. Beygency July 4, 2014

    The Destiny’s Child rendition is EVERYTHING & of course the Queen Beyonce’s.
    But nothing will ever compare to Whitney’s! Gosh we lost a treasure when she left us. Happy 4th to you all 🙂

    • RoyalKev July 4, 2014

      Say it, say it again! *Whitney voice*
      Those 3 versions are my all-time favorites!

      Happy 4th!

  7. PYTFROMAL July 4, 2014

    No one has topped Whitney yet. She brought pride and emotion to the song.

  8. Lindsay Lohan July 4, 2014

    All this negativity on a day we celebrate freedom. This is a great list! independence day, America!

  9. DIGGER BEY July 4, 2014

    My other favs were THE QUEEN’S, DC, Patti, Luther and Marvin’s! #NO POPTARTS ALLOWED

  10. JOHNVIDAL July 4, 2014

    Whitney Houston is so superior to the rest in this (and than almost everybody in general) it´s not even funny. Of course she´s #1. I´m also very glad that Mariah Carey is at #5 above Beyonce and a few screamers we have now, they are really overrated (or not, cause they are not even half as successful as the true greats). She deserves it cause nobody can sing like that, she has an unique style she created herself and this is not even her prime, these were the 00s already.
    Mariah was better at America the Beautiful though. And Celine Dion owned God Bless America (she sounded like the voice of a God).

    • Mimi Carey July 4, 2014

      I. Spot. No.lies. Whitney > Mariah > the world.

    • DIGGER BEY July 4, 2014

      Biitch u stay pressed by THE QUEEN KII

      • Mimi Carey July 4, 2014

        Did he lie ugly?

      • DIGGER BEY July 4, 2014

        Ugly = MooMoo’s Career kii. #CARRY ON

  11. DIGGER BEY July 4, 2014

    Why is The Non Factor Squad saying anything about vocals kii kii. They don’t matter and neither does Irrelevant “Gravely ill Vocals” kii kii

  12. RoyalKev July 4, 2014

    Yesssss Nippy! I get chills listening to her version. Her vocal clarity, dynamism and sheer power is unbelievable. Whitney was just a master at singing flawlessly. Truly one of a kind!

    I just love how my Bey takes something we heard so many times and make it something new and vibrant. She knows how to add that punch to anything! Her rendition is also amazing and I admire all of her natural gifts.

    DC, Alicia and JHud really did outstanding jobs, all of them were very memorable!

    • DIGGER BEY July 4, 2014

      Yes! Whitney’s was sheer power and range! Just WOW!! KING B’S was the Coming Of A Diva!

  13. lambily July 4, 2014

    Mariah did that way out of Prime, I wish she did that in 1992-1996 minus that gimmicky whistle. It would have been NUMBER 1, btw…. Whitney confessed that she Lipped that Performance so….. Marvin wins!!

    • Mimi Carey July 4, 2014

      America disagrees.

  14. Dossome July 4, 2014

    I miss Whitney,Luther and Marvin.You realize the list has Alicia Keys as the only artist who debuted in the 00s.That says alot about the gimmicks y’all stan for

    • Dossome July 4, 2014

      Oh there’s JHud too…oh well

    • Britney Stan July 4, 2014

      Beyonce is a gimmick why is she on there?

      • DIGGER BEY July 4, 2014

        That Britney Stan must be mad that in her latter years, she’s only known for Shaving her head and hitting the paps with an umbrella kii. #PASS GIMMICK

    • Yours Truly July 4, 2014

      Beyoncé a gimmick? GOODBYE I will never take you seriously again tbh

  15. True Fame Monster July 4, 2014

    Beyonce is such a basic singer to me… ugh Whitney and Mariah slayed of course.

    • Rach July 4, 2014

      lmao this coming from a monster? Lady gaga sounds a mess…

      • DIGGER BEY July 4, 2014

        No @Rach… She sounds a Hot Pissy Cow Shiit Mess!

  16. Yours Truly July 4, 2014

    Mariah was average tbh she’s a vocal beast I wanted Whitney slayage from her tbh … Whitney stills gives me chills still till this day. I really think DC3 ended vocals & harmonies with that performance. I love how patti is above Aretha I hope yall will see now that Patti is a powerhouse her belts >> Arethas . I also love Luthers version & Alicia & Jennifers were basic. Beyoncé those runs are out of this world

    • GaGa’s Tampon July 4, 2014

      That was from when her voice was a bit dodgy I didn’t feel that one tbh

    • RoyalKev July 4, 2014

      I have to agree! I know I’m wrong for saying this, but I can’t see what’s the big deal about Aretha’s voice? I’ll ask that everyone pardon my ignorance in advance, but I just think so many singers can do more. It’s obvious that she’s very soulful though.

      Aretha comes off as one of those Aries people that just puff themselves up to seem more important than their peers. It seems to work, people buy into it and often give them the respect they demand!

      • Yours Truly July 4, 2014

        I love love Ms Aretha but I hate it when she puts other legends like patti example down. Patti’s belts are way superior. We all know that Aretha is the Soul Queen!!

      • Mimi Carey July 4, 2014

        When it comes to Aretha it goes beyond her vocals. She opened A LOT of doors! It was because of her that the Grammys had desperate R&B categories!!! Me, I prefer Aretha’s velvet, soulful, bell like vocals over Pattis screaming but that’s just me. Both are legends but there is only one queen of soul

      • Mimi Carey July 4, 2014

        Separate R&B categories***

      • Mimi Carey July 4, 2014

        And plus Aretha’s music is much more legendary than Patti

      • Dossome July 4, 2014

        @Kev…To me,it’s Patti i don’t use.Aretha is just outta this world.Even her arrogance is legendary,lol…Btw,are you familiar with Ms.Dionne Warwick’s vocals?I really think she’s waaaaaay too underappreciated

    • RoyalKev July 4, 2014

      Tbh, I just find Patti to be a little loud! … I guess, I’m going in on these legends today.
      Still, I think she’s a way better singer than Aretha!

    • RoyalKev July 4, 2014

      @ Mimi
      I respect that! I have to appreciate her career and impact.

    • RoyalKev July 4, 2014

      Omg! I thought I was the only one that appreciate Dionne more than those other 2! Every time I come across something I’ve never heard from her I’m more impressed. I like how she builds up a climax and her voice is interesting. Out of all the 60’s/70’s artists Diana, Dionne and Chaka are the most talented. IMO.

      • Dossome July 4, 2014

        IKR??her tone is spectacular.THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR turned me into a fan and i youtubed all live performances of that song.The one she performed with Whitney,Stevie and Luther made me cry.IDKY she doesn’t get the credit she deserves for her voice when all you could do is look up her discography and just be wowed by her

    • RoyalKev July 4, 2014

      Yessss! It wasn’t easy back then for these artists to achieve what they did. Dionne’s resume clearly proves that she’s earned respect as one of the top legends of her time.

  17. lambily July 4, 2014

    @Dessome, its not that Bad, 4 of them are from 2000s Carrie,Jennifer,Alicia and Kelly. Btw who says this list is legit? Some people are missing, Faith Hill and Martina McBride are sooo missing, its not even funny d-_-b

    • Dossome July 4, 2014

      Tbh i don’t care for JHud,Carrie and Kelly AT All

  18. Yours Truly July 4, 2014

    You can say Beyoncé is basic, fat, ugly, fake or whatever but this woman can sing tbh. After watching her ‘I Am Yours ‘ Beyoncé’s vocals are far from basic lol

    • Kim Kardashian Stan July 4, 2014

      your opinion doesn’t matter

      • Rach July 4, 2014

        ur a fan of a p*** star… u don’t matter

    • DIGGER BEY July 4, 2014

      Yessssssss @ Yours Truly! She Served Some Deadly Vocals!!!

    • Beygency July 4, 2014

      You are slowly becoming one of my faves on here! That is nothing but the truth! Even if you aren’t a fan you can’t deny her vocal ability. Her range & tone are both impeccable.

  19. Skyfall July 4, 2014

    Yes, Whitney lipped here but she actually performed this version live on her “Welcome Home Heros” DVD and she Slayed. I feel Beyonces solo version was better than DC3. Jhud shouldn’t be in here (no shade) I’ve seen better and heard better. Mariah wouldn’t Slayed this if she did it in her prime (1990 – 1997) but she still sounded great. I haven’t heard any other ones version except for Marvin Gaye and yaaaaas he Slayed with those silky jazz vocals. Sad that He, whitney and Luther is no longer with us.

    Side note: I’m surprised En vogue isn’t on here

    • Skyfall July 4, 2014

      *Mariah WOULD OF SLAYED…

    • DD July 4, 2014

      “Side note: I’m surprised En vogue isn’t on here”

      Me too! It’s one of my favorite versions, especially the live version they did for Clinton.

    • Gogo July 5, 2014

      Omg i was thinking the same thing. I thought En Vogue would be here.

  20. Dossome July 4, 2014

    Ugh,Patti does nothing for me

  21. Metzo July 4, 2014

    My top favs:

    Not here for screamers.

  22. Dossome July 4, 2014

    OMG,i just love Mariah..and to think she wasn’t even in her prime

  23. MC!! July 4, 2014

    Thank god Mariah is over Beyoncé!!! They be trying the f*** outta her! And she sung it live at Indianapolis 500 in 05!!!!

  24. There once was a pimp and his h**…. July 4, 2014

    This list lost all credibility when they added Alicia Offkeys. There was nothing great about that damn performance. It was nothing but a struggle all throughout.

    #How embarrassing

  25. Sean July 4, 2014

    There is no reason Faith Hill’s version should not be on this list.

  26. Yours Truly July 4, 2014

    Yall remember Patti’s entrance when they did that grammy tribute with lady marmalade that Belt she did lawd sigh . I use Patti even when she performed for the DC3 at that age performing like that her vocals are just >>. Aretha gives me chills because of her soulness when she sings even without her belting or doing runs her soul alone. I use Aretha, patti, chaka, etta, Natalie Cole idk about Diana Ross tho. The Big 5

    • RoyalKev July 4, 2014

      Really? Why not Diana?

      • Dossome July 4, 2014

        My top 5 from that era
        1.Dionne Warwick
        2.Tina Turner
        3.Aretha Franklin
        4.Diana Ross
        5.Etta James

        Then there’s Roberta Flack and from the 80s the incomparable Ms.Anita Baker

      • Yours Truly July 4, 2014

        Diana was all about beauty and fashion her music <<. Even her vocals they don't do it for me. She was a all round entertainer and opened so many doors. I respect her struggle and drive

      • Yours Truly July 4, 2014

        Anita Baker, Natalie Cole, Nina Simone, Dionne Warwick, I feel like they aren’t given much credit as the other ladies. Its always about Aretha, Patti, Etta or even Diana even Tina. They also changed music.

      • urm? July 4, 2014

        Etta James came out way before Dionne,Diana,Tina, and Aretha. While Etta was in her prime(She never really had a prime, she only had one hit on the main charts) Aretha was still touring with her father, Dionne had not met the right producers to become 60’s Rihanna, Diana was still living in Brewster Projects in Detroit, and Tina was still a club scene act that was pulling tricks on the side of back wood highways to make more money for Ike.
        People swear they know these old school artist, but really they don’t.If they did, they would know that they just listed three era’s, instead of one.

    • RoyalKev July 4, 2014


      Dionne, Tina and Diana are such supreme legends! 🙂
      Aretha and Etta obviously are too!

      What do you think about Donna Summer?

      @Your Truly
      I could see what you mean. Diana’s style sometimes overshadowed some of her talent that didn’t seem to be played up. I still think she’s the most innovative for that time though.

      • Dossome July 4, 2014

        @Kev,i loooove Donna too.Interestingly,she’s my mom’s fave.Queen of Disco indeed

    • DIGGER BEY July 4, 2014

      Child Patti Ate All those biitches up that nite!

    • RoyalKev July 4, 2014

      @ Dossome

      Interesting! She’s one of my mom’s favs too! … Prolly after Diana, Glady’s & Patti!

  27. IStanForYourFav July 4, 2014

    They all sound beautiful!
    Aretha with a soul like no other
    Marvin singing it the way most guys still interpret today
    Whitney with the unprecedented power in her prime vocals
    DC3 with their gorgeous harmonies and dresses
    Beyoncé giving it her all like she does in every performance which is why she is a Queen performer
    Luther proves why he is King
    Patti showcasing that power and range can still exist if you take care of your voice… purely a Empress
    Alicia putting her own spin on it making her rendition
    Carrie showing that she is more than a beautiful face
    Kelly purely slaying
    JHUD showing that powerhouse vocals are still in the industry
    Mariah showing off her incomparable dynamic power and range which still influences singers today

    please you guys, it’s not a competition, it’s supposed to be honoring America. I see your stanning has you confused.

    • Hilary duff stan July 4, 2014

      F*** America my ancestors were still in chains in 1776

      • IStanForYourFav July 4, 2014

        Sorry to hear that

    • RoyalKev July 4, 2014

      Great comment.

    • RoyalKev July 4, 2014

      Just for that! <3

      • ThatGrapeJuice Slackin July 4, 2014

        YASSSS! For 1988 Nippy!

    • JOHNVIDAL July 5, 2014

      Sometimes I just think when you are that good and you are so praised and clearly the best, at least for some years, it can´t be good for your health. That´s what happens with some of these incredible artists (artists we don´t have today in mainstream btw).

  28. CT July 4, 2014

    Why is the ciara stans and ariana stabs coming at mariah? Where is your fav on this list? I didnt see them on this list or any other list no forbes list no maxim list they no ebt award guest list… have a seat girls.

  29. Dossome July 4, 2014

    Well,this song is not easy to perform so much props to those who made the list

  30. Suicide Blonde July 4, 2014

    Whitney Houston remains the greatest, the national anthem is already beautiful but even more when the singer is Houston. God bless America!, us Americans often forget how great our country is, we complain too much, we should be proud to be American.

    • RoyalKev July 4, 2014

      So true Blondie! … WH is truly “the voice” of all voices! She did her country proud that day!

  31. TRUTH SERUM July 4, 2014

    Sam, you definitely got it right. All the versions were excellent and really made me appreciate all of our National Treasures. Some of the best vocalist in the world. Whitney’s version was beyond amazing. I’m touched every time I hear it.

  32. The Truth Emeritus July 4, 2014

    The only Suoerbowl performance within the last 25 years not lip synced to my understanding was Christina Aguilera, and we all see what happened with that.#Fail

  33. ThatGrapeJuice Slackin July 4, 2014

    @ThatGrapejuice, Mariah is not known as “The Voice”, Whitney Houston is, you need to correct that

  34. King_B July 4, 2014

    The HIVE has never claim BEYONCE to be the greatest
    Singer of all time, but she is the greatest FEMALE performer
    A live big difference it’s an honer for her to be on this list she up there
    With all the greats . Congrats to all . All did Amazing

    • DIGGER BEY July 5, 2014

      Voice! Moves and Stage Presence! Singing and Dancing @ the same time. Those things put her up their with The Greats!

  35. Tyler July 4, 2014

    @Kim Kardashian Stan

    …Don’t you stan for a prostitute??? Porntube is that way h** —->

    Anways! Whitney, Beyonce, and DC’s renditions>>>

  36. Confessions in the Dance Floor July 4, 2014

    Madonna would’ve slayed Whitney, Mimi, Carrie underwood and the rest if she perform The National Anthem and God Bless America. Yes bitchesssss, that’s right! Paradise god!

    • The_Famous_Ciara July 5, 2014

      u troll and u are seething thru my bones for making comment like this

    • DIGGER BEY July 5, 2014


  37. XO_haunted_blow_No angel July 4, 2014

    king Bey has superior voice than crack head Whitney. She also sexier and prettier than her. King Bey has better blonde hair and lighter skin.
    Rihanna will never
    Britney will never
    Christina will never
    And fat ass bitchhhhh Adele will Neva

    • The_Famous_Ciara July 5, 2014

      bitchhhhh you high or sumthing?
      beyawnce is always inferior to the legendary whitney and bitchhh knows it.

      • DIGGER BEY July 5, 2014

        Dumb biitch that’s a TROLL! You’re still a dumb biitch though, for having a name like The Famous Ciara kii kii

  38. Rihanna #1 fan t July 4, 2014

    i agree whitney version was the best but beyonce should have been at least number 2 or 3 why she all the way down there… the others werent that good and kelly clarkson was okay

  39. #TeamTinashe Stan (BUY “2 On”) July 4, 2014

    Whitney is the greatest female singer to do it! #1 ALWAYS!

    I’ve always loved Aaliyah’s performance of the National Anthem as well.

    Although she didn’t perform at the NFL, Tinashe also did an impressive job to dismantle her haters.

    Who can’t sing again? Yeah I thought so.

  40. Tru Voice July 4, 2014

    To Derrick, The New Writer:

    “The Voice” is a title that belongs to Whitney Houston and Whitney alone. Don’t try it. And FYI she performed the anthem in 1991 not 1992. And it’s no surprise she’s #1.

    Didn’t like Aretha’s version AT ALL. She did her own thing and the band seemed confused at times. Her voice wasn’t that good here but I’ve seen performances from around this time and she usually sounded good idk. But she did look great.

  41. Mark111 July 5, 2014

    Of course Miss Whitney Houston is #1. Her version was played in every school in the nation for years. It could be a generation thing, but Beyoncé is my favorite.

  42. DarylMo July 5, 2014

    Errhmmm. You gotta watch Brian McKnight’s version. Still the best for me. And JHUD should be at least TOP 3!!!

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