On Chris Stapleton Singing the Super Bowl National Anthem
We’ve about given up all hope on a country artist being named by the NFL as the Super Bowl Halftime entertainer. It appears it will be hip hop and urban pop indefinitely. And hey, it’s the most popular style of music at the moment, so it’s theirs to lose.
And what country artist could rise to the occasion? Garth Brooks maybe, but he blew his chance after holding the NFL hostage in 1993 when he made his own National Anthem performance. Luke Combs? He doesn’t have enough universally-recognized songs just yet. Zach Bryan? We can dream. About the closest thing we may ever get to country Super Bowl Halftime performer would be Taylor Swift, and the gig is such a circus, she’s already signaled she’s not interested in it.
But country and country-adjacent artists seem to have the National Anthem performance shored up, at least over the last few years. Eric Church performed with R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan in 2021, and though more pop than country these days, Mickey Guyton knocked it out of the park in 2022. Her performance helped put some things in perspective for people who want to do away with the National Anthem performance before sporting events entirely.
Mickey Guyton was inspired to become a singer after seeing LeAnn Rimes perform the National Anthem at a baseball game. Jingoistic concerns aside, the National Anthem remains an irreplaceable stepping stone and opportunity for singing performance in the United States, and for anthem singers around the world. A National Anthem performance is also how Reba McEntire was discovered.
Chris Stapleton needs no stepping stone or discovery at this moment in his career, but we all know he will slay the National Anthem on Sunday, because this is what Chris Stapleton does. He’s such a good singer, it’s one of the reasons purists love to claim he isn’t country. Well, that and the fact that his singing is more native to soul than country despite growing up in the hills and hollers of Kentucky. But this cross genre appeal also makes Stapleton just about the perfect performer from country for a general audience.
We tend to take ol’ Chris Stapleton for granted in country. Many purists hate him and call him pop, but pop wants little to do with a pot-bellied bearded dude. He’s won so many awards, we got sick of him. But it’s hard to argue that he didn’t earn them above his Bro-Country competition. Whatever you think of Stapleton, it’s hard to think of a better individual to represent country music on a national stage.
And after Chris Stapleton kills it, he’ll get another 10 million spins on his version of “Tennessee Whiskey,” and co-writer Dean Dillon will put another wing on his house. Nearly eight years after originally being released by Stapleton, a 40-year-old song is still one of the most popular tracks in all of country music currently. That speaks to the power of Chris Stapleton’s voice, and why he’s been tapped to sing an over 200-year-old song that is one of the most important and most difficult to perform in history, in front of the biggest audience possible.
Who knows, maybe if Chris Stapleton makes a lasting impression as some other performers have done singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl to where it becomes one of the crowning achievements of their career, Stapleton will be invited back. And next time it will be to sing in the middle of the game, and not before it.
Country fans can only hope.
UPDATE: Chris Stapleton Nails National Anthem at 2023 Super Bowl
February 11, 2023 @ 9:19 am
I’m sure he will do fine. I’d rather see him get more popular so if some casual country fan is putting on music at a party I hear Stapleton instead of Moby Teeth. It’s not going to make Francis Scott Key any less of a melody thief. The Anacreontic Song will always be a classic! Looking forward to going to the gym while it’s empty on Sunday.
February 11, 2023 @ 10:12 am
Not every singer can sing this song, just because they are country means nothing, Dolly can sing the song beautifully, but personally, I did not care for Eric church’s version, and I am a big Eric church fan, I have all his cds, but just like Chris, I don’t think his voice fits the song, we shall see. I hope he can do a good job.
February 11, 2023 @ 10:12 am
Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s company, is the NFL’s long-term partner in the casting and production of Super Bowl halftime shows as well as the league’s social issue-oriented initiatives. Unless the “country” artist invited to perform at halftime is a hick-hop act, I’m afraid we country fans can only dream of the genre getting anything but peripheral exposure for the foreseeable future.
That said, why not Luke Combs for a future anthem role? He checks the same belly and beard boxes as Stapleton, doesn’t he? And neither has a signature song that’s widely known outside country music, right?
Zach Bryan? Hey, you never know. He’s going to headline one of the four days of the Windy City Smokeout in July, and the other days’ featured performers are Darius Rucker, Luke Bryan and the Zac Brown Band. Mainstream fame may be beckoning.
February 11, 2023 @ 11:37 am
“That said, why not Luke Combs for a future anthem role? He checks the same belly and beard boxes as Stapleton, doesn’t he? And neither has a signature song that’s widely known outside country music, right?”
They’re singing Tennessee Whiskey a’la Chris Stapleton, down at St. Armand’s Circle, in Sarasota, Florida. Meaning that song is known far and wide (think globally).
Trust me – Chris Stapleton is known, across all musical genres.
Glad he is going to be representing the United States, and all her people, at the Superbowl.
February 11, 2023 @ 6:08 pm
Zach Bryan is already bigger than Luke Bryan, Darius Rucker, and the Zac Brown Band, and “Something in the Orange” is currently on the way to becoming one of those generational songs like “Tennessee Whiskey.” I don’t see him playing the Super Bowl, but he will be on the short list from country in the coming years.
February 11, 2023 @ 10:20 am
If Luke Combs doesn’t have any universally recognized songs, then what country artist does?
February 11, 2023 @ 2:07 pm
Maybe because I don’t follow mainstream country at all, but I can honestly say that I don’t know a single song of his
February 11, 2023 @ 5:31 pm
I know his songs, but he hasn’t crossed over to any other radio format yet, unlike Walker Hayes and Morgan Wallen, whose hip-hop-influenced hits have made an impact outside mainstream country radio.
February 11, 2023 @ 6:11 pm
I would say Chris Stapleton. They would never book Morgan Wallen because, well, you know. But I’m not sure even Morgan Wallen has universally-identifiable songs. Everybody knows Stapleton’s version of “Tennessee Whiskey.”
February 12, 2023 @ 2:11 am
Everybody? Really? Go to Miami and ask folks if they know “Tennessee Whiskey.” Or New York City. Or San Francisco. Or even up here in the boondocks of New England, sitting on the Vermont/New Hampshire line. We’ve got three mainstream country stations and a classic country station, and while I hear “Startin’ Over” and “You Should Probably Leave,” “Millionaire” and “Joy of My Life” on the mainstream stations,
the only “Tennessee Whiskey” I ever hear is on that classic country station, and it’s by the Possum. So how does “everybody” here know Chris’ version?
Reminds me of what a musicologist once told me about the Beatles: that for all the hype and sold-out shows and big-selling records and songs that “everybody” knows, they and their music never meant much in the Black and Hispanic communities, not to mention the millions of Americans who have come here from Asian countries since the Beatles broke up in 1970. Some of these Americans eventually discover and find they enjoy country music, but Black and Hispanic preferences usually run to more rhythmic genres, while Asian musical tastes are all over the place. Same goes, and even more so, for the culturally myopic view of the relevance of country music to everybody — in the true sense of the word — in the United States.
February 12, 2023 @ 7:20 am
Maybe it was 2019 or 2021 seems more right but “Tennessee whiskey” by Stapleton was the most played song in bars/jukeboxes. Not just country but all genres. It’s one they pick too and pay to play. It’s still absolutely monstrous.
February 12, 2023 @ 9:28 am
A couple things:
Due to the Balkanization of culture, there may be no current song that is universally recognized.
“Tennessee Whiskey” was never released as a single, and that was an egregious mistake in country music history. But it is still incredibly pervasive throughout culture despite that. In fact, it’s probably one of the moments where radio’s relevancy slipped. I have no doubt that non country fans in non country listening areas still know “Tennessee Whiskey” enough where if it was performed at the Super Bowl, most people would get it.
February 12, 2023 @ 10:00 am
Since we’re talking New England, there’s a dude who busks in Boston that covers Stapleton’s version of Tennessee Whiskey. I used to run into him all the time when I lived in the city. And Stapleton sells out multiple dates at Bank of NH pavilion regularly, so clearly he’s known in these parts. Can’t speak to the other places you mention, but I bet you’d be surprised.
As for “everyone”, that’s always a lie. I don’t know any Rihanna songs, doesn’t mean there aren’t enough others around me who do.
February 13, 2023 @ 7:50 pm
My fiancé has 19 year old twin brothers. More often than not, they are listening to rap. That said, they have a healthy interest in country and the songs they like do you not catch their attention from mainstream radio. Rather, they listen to things like Chris Stapleton, TurnpikeTroubadours and Tyler Childers. They become aware of these artists via YouTube and TikTok. You would be very surprised the traction some of these artists, who don’t get played on the radio, get among the youth of today via the impact of the Internet. Just because they don’t get played on the radio, don’t assume that the enterprising youth of today are not hearing the good tunes. I suspect that Stapleton’s Tennessee whiskey, Childer’s feathered Indians and Whitehouse Road and the Troubadours’ Long Hot Summer are much better known amongst the youth of today then radio would have you believe.
February 11, 2023 @ 10:24 am
It would be nice if the Super Bowl acknowledged the portion of its audience with musical taste when deciding these half-time shows.
February 11, 2023 @ 10:50 am
Chris will be great for sure. One artist who doesn’t get a lot of love on this site, and definitely driving the in the same soul/country/rock lane as Stapleton and Church, is Jackson Dean. His singing of the anthem at his high school football game a few years ago is literally chill inducing, went viral and landed him a record deal. If you haven’t seen it, you can find it here on YouTube. https://youtu.be/ecdW0RY9nBM. Caught him at the Basement East a few weeks ago and the kid can rip. And kept his same band from high school instead of bringing in some pro’s from Nashville which is damn cool of him.
February 11, 2023 @ 12:17 pm
Lol, I thought that song “Don’t Come Lookin’” was by Jade Eagleson or some other Canadian artist, as it’s played constantly on Canadian country radio.
February 11, 2023 @ 3:15 pm
Yeah I don’t listen to the radio except streaming The Ranch and KOKE FM so I can see how that song could wear on you. They don’t play him on Texas radio which is a little surprising since his sound fits in well but he got his big break in Nashville so he’s radioactive in Texas.
February 12, 2023 @ 9:36 am
Do they still play Parker McCollum now that he’s a legit Nashville hit maker?
February 12, 2023 @ 10:19 am
They do play Parker. And Cody Johnson. And Miranda. Apparently if you start in Texas you get a pass. Surprisingly they play Morgan Wade consistently. In fact The Night is top ten on the Ranch right now. So I guess they just get to decide who gets to sit at the cool kids table with the TX and OK boys and girls.
February 11, 2023 @ 12:50 pm
Mickey Guyton was so good last year. I’m sure Stapleton will do just fine and he has wide appeal to everyone.
The Half Time show is more of a lip sync production than anything so I don’t really care if a country act gets the spot or not.
February 11, 2023 @ 12:59 pm
“Mickey Guyton was so good last year.”
She was total class.
February 11, 2023 @ 8:49 pm
I no longer watch the half time show. I don’t like the music or most the artist. It seems the music is only directed to a certain population and I guess I’m not one of them.
February 11, 2023 @ 1:14 pm
I’ve always hated the rock or hip-hop concert in the middle of the SB since they introduced it some years back with Michael Jackson. It’s an intrusion that has nothing at all to do with the game. Bring back the “Punt, Pass and Kick” competition and a game anaylsis and recognition of some charities.
February 11, 2023 @ 1:50 pm
Trigger, did you hear about Ronnie Milsap having to cancel his performance at the San Antonio Stockshow and Rodeo?
February 11, 2023 @ 2:57 pm
Not until this comment, but he’s been canceling shows a lot lately, so I am not surprised. Post COVID, you really count on a show going down until the performer is on stage.
February 11, 2023 @ 2:29 pm
Call Stapleton pop then I love me some pop.
Can’t wait to hear him tomorrow!
February 11, 2023 @ 3:14 pm
Not pop. I’d say he’s a (not so) old roots rocker and that’s a compliment.
See what I did there?
February 11, 2023 @ 5:56 pm
Ole’ Hank Jr. would blow the roof off the Superbowl halftime show. Seems like they have put on a lot of older rock acts over the years, so why not Bocephus? Especially since he is so well know for MNF. I am telling you, it would be great.
“About the closest thing we may ever get to country Super Bowl Halftime performer would be Taylor Swift, and the gig is such a circus, she’s already signaled she’s not interested in it.”
Now Trigger, that is a vulgar comment and you should be ashamed. How date you mention such a such a blasphemous name on a country website – LOL
February 11, 2023 @ 6:13 pm
Hank Jr. would have been a perfect pick back when he was doing the Monday Night theme song. Now, they’d never have him.
February 11, 2023 @ 7:47 pm
They play Stapleton’s music during football games all the time. I don’t see why he couldn’t perform the halftime show of the SB. I couldn’t see a more perfect fit for that performance.
February 11, 2023 @ 6:04 pm
“Whatever you think of Stapleton, it’s hard to think of a better individual to represent country music on a national stage.”
If you think poorly of Chris Stapleton, then you just poorly think.
February 12, 2023 @ 7:30 am
As much as I’d love a country music super bowl half time, I’m kinda glad they don’t do it. I would bet money it would be no different than the awards shows these days with country pop artists paired with pop and hiphop stars sharing the stage with them. I doubt it would be a real representation of country music, or a showcase of its artists.
I think Metallica would be the ultimate halftime show. That would be fun to watch.
February 13, 2023 @ 10:56 am
Big Metallica fan here, and I gotta say, after seeing their performance at the most recent Lollapalooza, I thought to myself, judging on that crowd reaction, they are still relevant enough to get the SB. I’m 100% sure they would never do a lip synch performance.
February 13, 2023 @ 11:49 am
That’s the worst part of the halftime show the last 10 years. It’s a rotation of the same old pop stars lip syncing with a bunch of dancing. It’s played out. I’m not a huge Rihanna fan, but she seems to be very talented vocalist. A live performance with a band would have been so much more entertaining.
Can’t remember an enjoyable halftime since Prince.
February 12, 2023 @ 8:59 am
When I heard Chris sing “Whenever You Come Around” I could see the man I loved in my mind’s eye so clearly, in a way I haven’t been able to in decades, after his sudden passing. There is something about Chris’s voice. His music is a gift and I cannot wait to hear him sing our country’s Anthem.
February 13, 2023 @ 2:59 am
What a beautiful message. Thank you for sharing.
February 12, 2023 @ 10:11 am
Much as I love Chris, I can’t help but think a halftime show wants to be more up-tempo than most of his catalogue, or than a lot of country music for that matter. Kind of surprised Carrie Underwood hasn’t done it, now that I think about it.
February 12, 2023 @ 11:34 am
Nobody will ever put on a better half time show than Prince did.
February 12, 2023 @ 6:57 pm
Thomas. Earl. Petty.
February 12, 2023 @ 7:11 pm
Yeah, sure, he also performed a half time show. But he didnt do it as well as the Purple One. I know you’re a fan, but objectivity is key. Watch the Rock N Roll HOF performance of While My Guitar Gently Weeps for proof why even Tom Petty isn’t in the same league as Prince.
February 12, 2023 @ 2:48 pm
I’m sure he’ll do great, although it might mean more if they didn’t do it before every. single. game.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine. Maybe I’m cynical. Maybe the nfl is cynical. Maybe both.
February 12, 2023 @ 4:30 pm
Damn he brought Siriani to tears
February 12, 2023 @ 4:32 pm
February 12, 2023 @ 4:47 pm
Brilliant. Well done.