After Christina Aguilera mangled last year’s Super Bowl national anthem, the NFL wanted to go with someone a bit more battle-tested this time around.
The NFL decided on two-time Grammy Award winner Kelly Clarkson, who has sung the Star Spangled Banner in near-perfect fashion for more than a decade. Clarkson sang at last year’s NBA Finals, and before that, she performed at the World Series, the Indy 500 and at a handful of other major events.
My favorite Super Bowl prop to handicap is always the over/under on how long it will take singers to perform the national anthem. I’ve bet this prop each of the last six years with great success, the lone exception being the 2006 Super Bowl when Aretha Franklin and Aaron Nevill combined to sing a 2-minute anthem.
Evidently, I did not R-E-S-P-E-C-T just how long-winded Franklin could be.
But with Clarkson at the mic, and an over/under of 1 minute, 34 seconds, there seems to be serious value on the under here.
On YouTube, I analyzed every Clarkson anthem I could find — eight in all — and her shortest anthem was 1:26 while her longest was 1:38. However, the long rendition was sung in 2000, and it was at a L.C.W. Balch Springs charity event.
The short anthem came at Yankees Stadium on opening day in 2009. It was an early April afternoon and it was extremely cold, cold enough to wear a jacket, anyway. It seems reasonable to think that Clarkson might have sped things up a bit.
Her other solo anthem times were 1:29, 1:34, 1:32, 1:27 and 1:33. At last year’s Indy 500, Clarkson also sang a 1-minute, 36-second anthem with David Foster and Seal.
In individual anthems, Clarkson averages a time of 1 minute, 31 seconds. If you eliminate the 2000 charity event performance, the average time drops more than a full second. Outside of that event, she’s never sung an anthem over 1:34.
Now, sportsbooks have already seen Clarkson’s performances and have likely taken her past anthems into account when setting this number. They also likely factored in the public’s desire to bet overs (kidding) and the possibility that Clarkson will add a little extra oomph in certain spots.
The question, though, is whether or not Clarkson’s anthem can climb four or more seconds higher than ones she’s previously done. Based on an hour or so of review, I’m not so sure she can.
A few notes:
- Clarkson’s anthems don’t have a long, extended “brave.” Compared to most anthem singers, it’s actually quite succinct. This is key because I don’t suspect much additional time will be added to the song on that last verse.
- Her “Rockets Red Glare, the bombs bursting in air …” tends to be a bit inconsistent. At the 2000 event and at last year’s NBA Finals, it lasted 11 seconds. At a 2006 Cowboys game, though, it was nine seconds. That’s the shortest of any she’s done.
- Verse I fear the most: “O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave.” In last year’s Finals, the “wave” lasted roughly five seconds, which is concerning. Then again, that was a 1-minute, 27-second version, her shortest of any indoor venue.
Overall, I think there’s legitimate value on the under 1:34. Clarkson’s anthems are all on tape and I see little room for her to extend the anthem beyond the four-second leeway that we have based on previous performances. Given Aguilera’s struggles at last year’s Super Bowl, I highly doubt Clarkson will want to take too many chances.
Of course, maybe the NFL doesn’t want to either and the anthem will be (gulp) pre-recorded!?