From Ricky Martin to Morricone: the seven best World Cup anthems of all time

Morricone’s theme faced some criticism from the locals in Argentina, the hosts of the ′78 tournament, because the composer was Italian. But there are few things in this world that are not improved by a Morricone score, and the world of football can count itself lucky to have one of the world’s greatest modern composers.

#6 Un’estate Italiana – Giorgio Moroder (1990)

From one iconic film composer to another, Giorgio Moroder stepped out of his disco/electronic comfort zone to produce this glam rock-esque stunner for Italy’s 1990 cup. A catchy chorus, distorted guitars and lyrics that capture the magic of an Italian summertime. is a song that perfectly represents the turn of the century.

The English version was written by Tom Whitlock, with whom Moroder had collaborated four years earlier for: take my breath away which was featured in Top gun.

#5 We are a – Pitbull achievement. J Lo and Claudia Leitte (2014)

In 2014, the World Cup went to Brazil, so who better to ask for a tournament song than Mr. Worldwide itself, Pitbull? Pitbull, who is definitely not Brazilian, teamed up with Jennifer Lopez (certainly not Brazilian either) and singer Claudia Leitte (who is Brazilian) for this whistling tune.

For a relatively simple and sometimes overly repetitive track, We are a features a massive list of songwriters, including Australia’s own Sia, RedOne, Danny Mercer, Dr. Luke, Cirkut and Thomas Troelsen. How else do you get magic like,“Put your flags in the air (put them in the air), and wave them from side to side (from left to right)”?

The jokes aside, it’s a fun song with just the right amount of vague “we do it all together” themes to leave everyone feeling warm and fuzzy.

#4 Tree – Anastacia (2002)

In 2002, the World Cup was jointly hosted by South Korea and Japan, so I guess it makes sense that the national anthem was done by American pop sensation Anastacia?

Apart from the weird choice of the singer, Tree isn’t just a great football song, it’s a great all round pop song. Unlike most anthems, Anastacia did not try to incorporate musical elements from the host countries. She just delivered what she does best: early 2000s electro-pop. And it worked.

#3 waving flag – K’naan (2010)

Technically to wave Flag by Somali-Canadian rapper and singer K’naan was not the official anthem of the 2010 FIFA World Cup hosted in South Africa (more on that later). Rather, it was Coco-Cola’s “promotional song” for that cup. But the song is so good it deserves to be on this list.

It’s an unashamedly joyful and uplifting track that recognizes the best of the World Cup: cultures from around the world coming together to celebrate themselves, each other and the magic of football.

#2 Waka Waka (this time for Africa) – Shakira (2010)

Another anthem where the singer has no connection to the host country, but another anthem where it doesn’t matter because of how good it is. While the 2010 World Cup in South Africa will always be remembered for the relentless roar of thousands of vuvuzelas, it deserves to be remembered for giving us two iconic anthems.

Waka Waka (this time for Africa) is by far the most streamed anthem, and Shakira’s biggest hit after that Hips do not lie (which she also performed at the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2006 World Cup in Germany). Not much more to say about this. Just listen to it.

#1 La Copa de la Vida (The cup of life) -Ricky Martin (1998)

Do you really want it? It doesn’t matter that this was the national anthem for the 1998 World Cup in France. It has become synonymous with the tournament wherever and whenever it is held. In fact, you can play at any sporting event. Scratch that, any event. Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries.

It’s hard to choose the best thing about this song. The horns? The “Allez, allez, allez” chant? The samba rhythm? It’s all so good. It also helped bring Latin music into the Western pop consciousness, paving the way for artists like Bad Bunny and Shakira.

That’s right – no La Copa de la Vida (The cup of life) does not mean Shakira, which means no Waka Waka† How much darker would our world be?

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