Alicia Keys has her work cut out for her.
Beyoncé, who will perform the Super Bowl halftime show next month after Keys opens the event with the national anthem, took her own turn at “The Star-Spangled Banner” this morning during President Barack Obama’s second inauguration ceremonies. Starting in a lofty octave, and eventually removing her earpiece, the former Destiny’s Child singer gave a suave, evocative rendition of a notoriously difficult tune — not quite Whitney-Houston-in-1991 levels of superlativeness, perhaps, but definitely part of the same conversation.
Earlier, Kelly Clarkson began somewhat tentatively but ended on a commanding note in a performance of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” and James Taylor kept it relevant for the Boomers with his easygoing folk-pop take on “America the Beautiful.” All your favorite characters from the world of politics were there, too, from Joe Biden to Eric Cantor.
Watch Bey up above and see Clarkson and Taylor’s performances below, and don’t miss our history of Obama’s interactions with the hip-hop world, My President Is Rap.