As the kick-off of Russia 2018 creeps ever closer it’s time to re-visit some of the songs of previous World Cups.
There has been some stunners and some shockers, official and unofficial, anthems and albums – going back 56 years to when Los Ramblers created the first ever World Cup song for Chile 1962.
There is no word yet on an official song for Russia 2018 although Coca-Cola have already released their official World Cup song – Colors by Jason De Rulo.
Here’s our countdown of the top ten World Cup songs of all time:
7. Wavin’ Flag – K’naan (South Africa 2010 – Unofficial)
Originally the song’s lyrics talked about growing up in war torn Somalia and hoping for freedom.
The lyrics still felt genuine after Coca-Cola chose Wavin’ Flag for their World Cup 2010 campaign – and launched the Somali Canadian poet, rapper, singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist to world wide fame – 90 million Youtube views will that do that for you.
The tune is catchy and doesn’t feel fake (almost).
6. Boom – Anastacia (Japan & Korea 2002)
As great a songstress as American singer Anastacia, who burst onto the pop music scene in the early 2000s, might be she was still an unlikely choice to sing the official World Cup song of Japan/Korea 2002.
Not as catchy as her electronic-soul fusion “I’m outta love” it’s still a fairly pleasing dance number though the link to football seems very tenuous, although the video valiantly tries.
The song was heard a lot during the tournament in Japan and Korea, which was a big step up from the official anthem by Vangelis.
5. Samba e Gol – Bellini (France 1998 unofficial)
Originally titled Samba de Janeiro, this is Samba at its best and a video intercut with some fantastic footage of Brazil’s previous World Cup winning teams (as well as some very strange footage near the end of a random middle age man getting into a car and driving nowhere in particular.)
We live in world where artists modernize older versions of songs. Did it not come across anyone’s mind to recreate this song for the 2014 World Cup?
And much better than the official song – Pitbull’s insipid We Are One (Ole Ola) – although Jennifer Lopez and Claudia Leitte did their best to enliven it.
4. Les Cour des Grands – Youssou N’Dor and Axelle Red (France 1998)
Belgian singer/songwriter and activist Axelle Red joined Senegalese singer, songwriter and composer Youssou N’Dour for this humanitarian hymn, which is uplifting, powerful and surprisnigly edgy for an official tune.
Accompanied by a earthy video which is simultaneously subversive and celebratory – quite an achievement.
3. El Rock del Mundial (The Rock of the World) – Los Ramblers (Chile 1962)
How can you not like a song with the chorus “Goooool, gooool Chile.”
The original FIFA world Cup anthem that started it all – so depending on how you feel about World Cup songs you are either very grateful or very angry at Los Ramblers, the icons of the Chilean new wave.
The song itself sounds like a South American version of Elvis Presley’s “All Shook Up”, although this was written seven years before Presley’s classic perhaps it was the King who was inspired by this early pop-rock chart-topper, which managed to sell around 900,000 copies of this single 45rpm record, a record for the time.
The film clip is pure vintage with highlights of Chile’s previous World cup campaigns.
If only they were all this good.
2. Waka Waka (This time for Africa) – Shakira (South Africa 2010)
The greatest criticism of this catchy number is that it should of course been sung by an African singer.
Instead it was the admittedly fetching Shakira, who hails from Colombia, although she does have a string football connection, being the long time squeeze of Barcelona defender Gerard Pique.
It’s a high energy dance number with a memorable chorus, and at least in the film clip they put the players right where they should be, front and centre – including of course Pique himself – interspersed with an African inspired dance routine.
Shakira’s voice sounds highly treated but the flavor of the music and the celebratory nature of the dance, including some jubilant younger performers, gives it a feel-good vibe that is hard not to succumb to.
The video also has historical footage of many of the greats – Ronaldo, Zidane, Messi, Maradona, Pele, Baggio – who in a moment that almost works, Shakira seems to be dreaming of.
It finishes with the words: “We’re all Africa” and 1.8 billion views of Youtube is not be sneezed at.
Neither were the sales where it topped the charts in 15 countries but could only reach 21 in the UK.
1. World in Motion – New Order (1990 Italy)
“Some of the crowd are on the pitch. They think it’s all over… well it is now!”
The immortal words of Kenneth Wolstenholme’s commentary from the 1966 World Cup final won by England 4-2.
These words start this up-tempo little ditty created by the former members of Joy Division a band who were known as the most depressing ever.
One wonders what Ian Curtis would have thought.
The video is appalling, even by 1989 standards.
Bernard Summer sings his little heart out in an Umbro football jersey, while John Barnes juggles a football behind him, the backdrop a couple of housing commission low-rises on a training ground in
Paul Gascoigne, Peter Beardsley, Des Walker and Steve McMahon also make an appearance, mumb;ling along to the video wondering what they are doing.
The mid-song wrap break delivered by John Barnes is the best thing in it – and shows maybe the Liverpool legend missed his true calling. It contains the phrase: “We ain’t no hooligans, this ain’t no football song, Three lions on my chest, I know we can’t go wrong”
They did of course go wrong in the semi-finals – as Gascoigne shed his famous tears.
But the real question is who is more embarrassed – band member Gillian Gilbert during the filming or Chris Waddle looking back on his haircut.
The song was re-released for the 2002 World Cup, when David Beckham was meant to re-record the wrap but un/fortunately that never happened.
The song went to No1 in the UK but could only manage No5 in the USA.