Running for over 80 years, the World Cup is without a doubt the biggest sporting event in the world, and has featured some highs, lows and utter tragedies, but of course, one of the most memorable elements that brings a nation together is the anthem.
Sadly, as we’ve learned the hard way, not every song is as enjoyable as the tournament itself. With that in mind, we take a look at some of the most memorable songs from over the years.
El Rock del Mundial – Los Ramblers 1962
The first-ever World Cup anthem was from Chilean jazz rock band Los Ramblers in 1962. Although the song never made the impact of other numbers in our list, it started a trend and changed history as every World Cup since that year has featured its own anthem. Los Ramblers were formed in November 1959 by smaller name musicians who had participated in other groups or as soloists. By the turn of the 21st century, the song had sold over two million copies.
World Cup Willie – Lonnie Donegan 1966
Proving that not every entry on our list has to be a work of art, World Cup Willie by English phenomenon Lonnie Donegan became the anthem for the 1966 World Cup when hosts England won the title. The song references “Willie the Lion”, the tournament’s mascot at the time. Willie was designed by artist Reg Hoye, who’d previously done work for well-loved author Enid Blyton.
Futbol - Maryla Rodowicz 1974
Maryla Rodowicz is a Polish singer and actress who recorded the song Futbol for the 1974 World Cup, held in West Germany. She performed the song live at the opening ceremony, and although Rodowicz isn’t well known outside of Europe, her body of work contains over 600 recorded songs, included in over 20 Polish albums, as well as albums in the English, Czech, German and Russian languages.
Hot Hot Hot – Arrow 1986
Arrow is an artist from the Island of Montserrat, often nicknamed The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean. After the release, the song became an instant hit, becoming an unofficial theme song for the island’s team, as well as resulting in a host of covers including the Vengaboys, and a version by Buster Poindexter that featured Bill Murray in its music video.
We Are The Champions - Queen 1994
One of the most famous songs in history, and considered by many music experts to be the catchiest song in the world, Queen’s We Are The Champions has become an anthem across many sports and events over the years, due to its crowd participation and uplifting lyrics. Although the song itself was never the official theme song of USA ’94, its association with the event runs deep.
Brazil won the 1994 World Cup and are favourites to do so again this summer. However, not all World Cup betting tips fancy the South American nation over in Russia. France, Germany and Spain have all been backed by many tipsters heading into the tournament.
The Cup of Life – Ricky Martin 1998
Written by song writing legends Draco Rosa and Desmond Child and performed by Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin, The Cup of Life went on to become one of Martin’s most successful songs, turning both gold and platinum globally and shifting over half a million copies in France alone. Stylistically the song follows a similar aesthetic to the other Rosa/Child written single by Martin “Livin’ La Vida Loca”, an upbeat Latin Pop affair, filled with brass, party lyrics and Latin percussion.
The Time of Our Lives - Il Divo featuring Toni Braxton 2006
Proving not all World Cup anthems have to be particularly upbeat, this slow, almost power ballad like affair courtesy of operatic four piece Il Divo and American R&B singer Toni Braxton was released for the 2006 World Cup held in Germany. The song did moderately well, making number 24 in the Austrian charts and number 17 in Germany, but didn’t fair particularly well in the UK.
Wavin' Flag - K'naan 2010
Although not the official song of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, K’naan’s upbeat unity anthem became the official Coca Cola promotional song. The original song was released in 2008, and was written for the nation of Somalia, however in 2010 after the Haiti earthquake, a group of musicians by the name of “Young Artists for Haiti” release their own version of the song to benefit the survivors. When the song was then picked by Coca Cola as their promotional song, it became a global hit reaching the top 10 in over 20 countries across the globe.
Live it Up - Nicky Jam featuring Will Smith and Era Istrefi 2018
Produced by EDM mega star Diplo, The Picard Brothers and Free School, the song was released on May 25th in the run up to this summer’s World Cup in Russia. Although the song fared well in a handful of European markets including Sweden, Belgium and Germany, the reception to it wasn’t exactly what you would call warm.
Who’s your money on in the latest odds on world cup group stage, and who do you think should do the 2022 anthem for the World Cup in Qatar? Let us know in the comments below!