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The 10 best Super Bowl national anthem performances

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The 10 best Super Bowl national anthem performances

Before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers butt helmets with the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night in Super Bowl 2021, country star Eric Church and R&B diva Jazmine Sullivan will unite the nation — and music fans of different genres — by singing the national anthem.

But who are the most super “Star-Spangled Banner” singers of all at the big game?

Here, we rank the Top 10 to ever belt it out.

10. Demi Lovato (2020)

The national anthem is perfect for a singer like Lovato, who has the pipes but sometimes lacks the personality as an artist. T

echnically, the “Give Your Heart a Break” belter hit all the right notes — and looked fab doing so, in her white pantsuit — and delivered a purist’s rendition that scored with the Super Bowl masses.

9. Renée Fleming (2014) 

Backed by the Armed Forces Chorus, the soprano showed all those dudes on the field who was the head diva in charge with her classical powers that turned MetLife Stadium into the Metropolitan Opera House for three minutes. 

8. Mariah Carey (2002)

Just a few months after 9/11, Carey did the honors at the New Orleans Superdome, where Tom Brady won the first of his six Super Bowl rings with the New England Patriots. (He’s going for his seventh quarter-backing the Buccaneers on Sunday.) Giving her vocals some of that Mimi melisma — complete with her trademark whistle notes — a peak Carey reminded us that we belonged together when we needed it most.

7. Billy Joel (1989 and 2007)

Strong Island’s own piano man has the distinction of being one of only two singers — the other being Aaron Neville — to perform the national anthem twice at the Super Bowl, so he has to make this list. And they were two very different renditions: In 1989, he sang it a cappella, while in 2007 — with decidedly less hair — he played the keys as he sang Francis Scott Key’s lyrics.

6. The Chicks (2003)

The artists formerly known as the Dixie Chicks — no strangers to political controversy — let their three-part harmonies melt the nation into sweet unity. With minimal accompaniment, the purity of their voices met the moment by bringing home the lyrics and diffusing all divisiveness.

5. Luther Vandross (1997)

The sultan of soul responsible for a generation of babies being made, Vandross came the closest that anyone has ever come to turning “The Star-Spangled Banner” into a quiet-storm slow jam in 1997. All it was missing was some incense.

4. Beyoncé (2004)

Befitting the hometown queen that she was, Bey was offered the choice of either singing the national anthem or performing during the halftime show in her native Houston in 2004. She opted for doing a “Star-Spangled Banner” that proved she had serious vocal game, but the stellar moment was overshadowed by Janet Jackson’s infamous halftime show nip slip. Let’s not forget of course that Bey herself went on to slay the halftime show not once but twice (2013 and 2016).

3. Lady Gaga (2016)

Five years before she sang the national anthem at this year’s presidential inauguration, Gaga blew away the men in tights with her powerhouse pipes in 2016. And for good measure, she came back to headline the halftime show in Houston the very next year.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oU_UEVp2ynU

2. Jennifer Hudson (2009)

Beyoncé’s Oscar-winning “Dreamgirls” co-star belted those notes fiercer than any linebacker ever could when she took the field at Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa, Florida, in 2009. The performance was a show of true resilience and strength: Just a few months before, Hudson’s mother, brother and nephew were murdered.

1. Whitney Houston (1991)

With a gospel-influenced arrangement inspired by Marvin Gaye, Houston — rocking that iconic white tracksuit, with matching headband — will always be the MVP of Super Bowl national-anthem singers. No doubt, she was the bomb bursting in air that night.

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What you can’t do at New York wedding receptions amid COVID

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What you can't do at New York wedding receptions amid COVID

Bring your COVID-19 test results, a face mask and a tape measure to the next wedding reception you attend.

New York’s strict new rules for weddings and catered events, which take effect March 15, will allow up to 150 people to gather — but not too closely and only for guests with a negative coronavirus test result or completion of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Guests can only dance — masks on — with members of their own immediate party/household/family who are seated together and then only in “designated and clearly marked areas or zones that are assigned to them.”

The zones are to be at least 36 square feet and six feet apart from any other dancing areas or zones, the rules say.

And don’t even think about busting a move with someone in another zone.

Guests “cannot enter, use, or otherwise visit other dancing areas or zones,” the state says.

It’s OK for “select attendees” to join the bride and groom when they take their first dance “so long as they maintain six feet of separation from other attendees throughout the dance.”

The band can play, but only if at least 12 feet away from guests or separated by a barrier.

And guests must keep their masks on unless they are eating. They cannot eat or drink “if members of different parties/households/families are within six feet.”

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Generous tipper drops $1K at his favorite Chinatown joints

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Generous tipper drops $1K at his favorite Chinatown joints

As tips go, this is way over 20 percent!

A Mandarin-fluent foodie has filmed himself dropping $1,000 tips at five of his favorite, but struggling, take-out joints in Manhattan’s Chinatown — and the video of his startled beneficiaries trying to give him back the money is just heartwarming.

“I got five thousand dollars,” YouTuber XiaoMaNYC explains in the clip before handing out the huge tips, which he stuffs into the bright red envelopes that are traditionally exchanged as gifts for Chinese New Year.

“We’re going to be going to five different restaurants, and giving them each a nice little ‘hongbao,’” he says, referring to the envelopes by their Mandarin name as he stuffs each with ten crisp $100 bills.

“It’s actually a great time to do this because it’s Chinese New Year,” he explains of the holiday, which began Feb. 12 and ended Friday.

“I’m just going to be going to some of my absolute favorite Chinese restaurants here in New York City,” explains the three-million-fan YouTuber — a Manhattan-based video producer whose real name is Arieh Smith.

“Not only do they provide great food to the people in the neighborhood, but they also support a lot of employees and they’re all family run,” he says. “They’re just really amazing and great people.”

One of his first stops was Spicy Village on Forsythe Street.

“They work nonstop for 12 hours a day, he said of the restaurant. “And they definitely deserve a little something.”

“We’re just hanging in there, honestly,” owner “Wendy” tells Smith, as she takes his noodles order and they chat in Mandarin about how business has been damaged by the pandemic.

Not knowing she’s on camera, she stuffs Smith’s takeout bag full of complimentary tea and holiday candies for his wife, tells him the order comes to $15, and wishes him a happy New Year.

“Oh by the way, I wanted to give you something,” he says, handing over a hongbao envelope.

“No, I don’t want that!” she insists, backing away.

When Smith finally convinces her to take it, she looks inside and immediately tries to hand it back. The two practically tussle over the money. Smith insists, “Mei yo! mei yo!” — “No, don’t worry about it!” — as she repeatedly tries to stuff the envelope back in his backpack.

“Are you sure? I really can’t accept it!” she says, nearly in tears.

“I just wanted to thank you guys, on Chinese New Year,” Smith tells her. “Just keep doing what you’re doing and making great food!”

At other takeout windows, his red envelopes get similar reactions.

“This is crazy that you would do this!” one grateful owner tells him.

“Too much, dude!” protests a street vendor, who Smith speaks to in fluent Cantonese.

“No way!” shouts another restauranteur, after handing Smith a $1.50 milk tea and getting the huge tip in return.

Smith ends the clip by urging folks to support Chinatown or their own local eateries — though he concedes with a laugh, “You don’t have to tip them $5,000. You could just show up at any of these great restaurants and buy something delicious.”

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Hawaii considering a rescue fine if hikers don’t follow signs

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Hawaii considering a rescue fine if hikers don't follow signs

Hikers who don’t follow trail signs in Hawaii could face more than just danger to their lives — they could also be required to pay for their own rescue. 

Hawaiian lawmakers are considering a bill that could require hikers to reimburse local rescue teams if they had to be saved because they left marked trails, entered clearly-marked private property or ignored signs saying a trail is closed, according to recent reports. 

SB 363 would also give those hikers additional, criminal fines for petty misdemeanor charges.

State lawmakers are also considering another bill, SB 700, which has been revised to allow local rescue teams to choose whether they have hikers reimburse them for any fees associated with their rescue. 

According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, similar bills have previously been introduced in Hawaii’s House and Senate before.

This time, the bills are being considered as a way to help Hawaii’s budget, which is “straining” because of the coronavirus pandemic, the newspaper reported.

“It’s an issue that has been brought up in the past in a number of ways, especially in times when budgets are thin and resources are limited,” state Sen. Chris Lee told the Star-Advertiser. “It’s a discussion that everybody is interested in having this year.”

According to the newspaper, the state’s Fire Department opposes the bills. 

“The Honolulu Fire Department does not want to deter anyone from calling 911, thinking there is going to be a cost associated with them getting help,” HFD spokesperson Carl Otsuka told the Star-Advertiser.

Meanwhile, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Chairwoman Suzanne Case, previously supported an earlier version of SB 700 that required hikers to pay back their rescue costs in written testimony, according to the Star-Advertiser.

“The Department is in support of any strategy that will incentivize the general public to stay within authorized managed areas and already has statutory penalties for violation of laws and rules adopted specifically for going into closed areas,” Case wrote. “While these penalties are in place, absent enforcement and citations, they are clearly not a deterrent.”

The Star-Advertiser reported that Case also noted in her testimony that the DLNR would defer to counties — who are responsible for search and rescue operations — on whether they required hikers to pay for their rescue or not.

According to the Star-Advertiser, hikers frequently get into trouble on the islands and rescuing them can be a dangerous and expensive task.

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