The World Cup anthems: From Queen to Shakira, a look at the football summer hits
Ten days into the World Cup 2018, the football fever is as rampant as ever. Forget the insanely high pollen levels, because there is an itch spreading even faster throughout the British nation this summer, and it’s our inevitable longing to once again hold that golden trophy within our grasp.
Cue the tuneless renditions of Football’s Coming Home bursting from every flag-draped household. Because, if there’s one thing even Paul the mystic octopus could predict, it’s that this country will be loud and proud. We might not have won the revered global competition since 1966, but that doesn’t stop the English from raising their hopes every four years, fulfilling their famed potential to aspire to unrealistic heights. But perhaps, the fans intone, this year will be different. And for once, their pride – set to a maximum default – might be rewarded. With the English team young and fresh-faced under the solid strategic leadership of Gareth Southgate and two fairly comfortable wins under their belt, things are looking hopeful. And, boy, have we been vocal about it.
We fill pubs and living rooms, throwing beer with reckless abandon, painting ourselves red and white in a tribal ritual unlike any other and chanting until our throats are raw. However, not everything we sing is as patriotic it as it may seem. Some songs were made to be shared with our competitors. After all, our own dreams aside, the World Cup is an international competition, and the summer soundtrack it has provided over the decades has had a remarkable ability to make a choir of the human race – albeit one which sings out of time and out of tune. But while Shakira’s Waka Waka defined the 2010 South African competition, not every official release has defined a summer of football.
Indeed, over the years artists ranging from Queen to Ricky Martin – believe it or not – have tried to forge their own sporting anthems. You may not have had any idea that We Are the Champions was even a World Cup track. As iconic as the number has become, perhaps the nation saw fit remove Freddie Mercury’s ballad from its context as a form of self-preservation. After all, the lyrics “no time for losers”, sang in relation to British football exploits, surely only add insult to injury.
But this is not the only track to have faded from the football radar. We take a look at all the songs – hits and fiascos – since the Italian world cup of 1990, courtesy of the infographic from SBO.net. It’s safe to say that the most forgettable was Anastacia’s Boom (we will forgive you for searching your browser) although that negative record is challenged by German musician Herbert Grönemeyer’s Zeit, Dass Sich Was Dreht in 2006. Shakira, on the other hand, has had not one but two World Cup hits, though her most recent attempt found slightly less success than her 2010 vuvuzela-accompanied mega-hit – which will no doubt be running around your head for days. Here’s a detailed infographic with facts and figures about each song: the good, the bad and the infuriatingly catchy.
The editorial unit