Go big or go home?
For the first time since Billy Joel in 2007, Alicia Keys performed "The Star Spangled Banner" while sitting at a white piano. With her eyes closed, her rendition was slow and thoughtful. It was as if she was channeling Motown great Marvin Gaye, said The Christian Science Monitor's John Kehe.
Each year, Las Vegas bookmakers bet on every thing from the Super Bowl score to the length of the national anthem. The over/under for Keys was 1:35 seconds, according to USA Today, which was probably based on the record of previous performers. Pop singer Kelly Clarkson, for example, last year came in at 1:30 seconds. The longest Super Bowl national anthem was Natale Cole, at 1:52 seconds in 1994. Keys has apparently set a new record, and she did it by adding a line to Francis Scott Key's lyrics.
At the very end, Keys added her own "coda" to the 200-year old song: “Livin’ in the home of the brave” was her personal flourish. And this was her own arrangement.
“The Star Spangled Banner” is in the public domain, so there's no need to pay royalties to the authors or their heirs. But according to ShowBiz 411, "you can get a copyright on a public domain song if you record it with your own arrangement. That means Keys could make money from its future use in that form, and get her a shared songwriting credit with composers Francis Scott Key and John Stafford Smith, who died in the 1800s."
Indeed, more than 300 singers have copyrighted the national anthem, including Jimi Hendrix and Jose Feliciano.That means every time someone plays the Hendrix version in a film or elsewhere, his estate makes money.
So, Alicia Keys not only has the unofficially longest version of the national anthem at a Super Bowl halftime show, she has a version that she can take to the bank, too.