Idina Menzel is one of the most accomplished vocal performers of the last 20 years, and even for her it's been a good year. Since the release of the wildly successful movie Frozen and its hit single, "Let It Go," in November 2013, Menzel has seen a dramatic spike in popularity. And on Sunday, she'll grace her biggest stage yet: She will sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl.
But not everyone is on Menzel's side. In her meteoric rise to fame, she's met aggressive criticism of her live performing. She performed "Let It Go" at Rockin' New Years Eve 2015, and took a lot of flak for being pitchy and missing a high note at the climax of the song. The Twitter mockery was voluminous, with one user tweeting that it sounded like she "just passed a kidney stone." She got the same kind of response for her performance of the song at last year's Oscars.
What everyone seems to forget, though, is that Menzel has been on and off Broadway since the mid-'90s; between that and performing from her own albums, she's been singing in front of live audiences for two decades. On Sunday, before 100 million viewers and on a song with an even higher note than the one she missed on "Let It Go," she'll prove once and for all that she was born for this show.
Show this to anyone who doubts her. Before she was the voice of Elsa in Frozen, Menzel was an original cast member in the Broadway smash Rent, for which she earned her first Tony nomination in 1996. Flash forward to 2003, when Menzel played the infamous green witch of Oz alongside Kristin Chenoweth in another Broadway hit, Wicked. In 2004, she secured her first Tony for that role. And even amid all the Frozen commotion, Menzel has garnered another Tony nomination, this time for the lead role in her Broadway musical If/Then.
No stage is too big for Menzel, and her two recent hiccups are pretty easily defended. During her New Year's Eve performance, it was 15 degrees outside; just before her Oscars performance, John Travolta infamously introduced her as "Adele Dazeem." And when she came under fire recently for her New Year's Eve performance, she responded in a truly classy fashion: "There are about 3 million notes in a two-and-a-half-hour musical. ... Performing isn't only about the acrobatics and the high notes: It's staying in the moment, connecting with the audience in an authentic way and making yourself real to them through the music. I am more than the notes I hit."
She isn't running from the challenge. And for those music nerds out there, get this: The highest note in "Let It Go" is an E flat, while the highest note in the "Star-Spangled Banner" is an F. What's a whole step up to a Broadway legend?
In addition to being a total badass, Menzel has both the weather (toasty Arizona) and a decent introduction (anyone but ding-a-ling Travolta) on her side during the Super Bowl come Feb. 1. The national anthem may be one of the most difficult songs to perform, but Menzel's got the chops — and 20 years of experience — to back up what's sure to be an amazing performance. This is a role she was born to play.