Did you know that the first song recognized as “official” in a Soccer World Cup was a Rock And Roll? It was 1962, and a Chilean band called Los Ramblers wanted to give a touch of “currentness” to the football festival that would take place that year in their country. The play turned out wonderfully for them, so much so that, since then, there has not been a World Cup that does not have an “Official Song”, a task that is usually commissioned to renowned musicians.
- World Cup in Chile 1962 – The Ramblers, “The rock of the World Cup”
- England World Cup 1966 – Lonnie Donegan, “World Cup Willie” (Where In This World We Are Going)
- World Cup in Mexico 1970 – The Zavala Brothers, “Football Mexico 70”
- World Cup in Germany 1974 – Maryla Rodowicz, “Football”
- Argentina World Cup 1978 – Ennio Morricone, “The World Cup”
- World Cup in Spain 1982 – Plácido Domingo, “The World Cup”
- World Cup in Mexico 1986 – Juan Carlos Abara, “The world united by a ball”
- World Cup in Italy 1990 – Gianna Nannini and Edoardo Bennato, “Un’estate italiana”
- USA World Cup 1994 – Daryl Hall and Sounds of Blackness – “Gloryland”
- World Cup in France 1998 – Ricky Martin, “The Cup of Life”
- South Korea/Japan World Cup 2002 – Anastacia, “Boom!”
- World Cup in Germany 2006 – Il Divo with Toni Braxton, “The Time of Our Lives”
- World Cup in South Africa 2010 – Shakira, “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)”
- Brazil 2014 – Pitbull, Jennifer López and Claudia Leitte, “We Are One (Ole Ola)”
- Russia 2018 – Nicky Jam, Will Smith, Era Istrefi and Diplo “Live it Up”
- Qatar 2022 – Trinidad Cardona, Davido and AISHA, “Hayya Hayya (Better Together)”
Not all have been a success. Somehow, the organizers have been emotional and cheesy, often promoting cloying melodies instead of party songs. Below we give you the complete list: we bet that you know more than one by heart.
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Note: Some videos may not be available in your geographic area.
In 1961, the director of Los Ramblers, the Chilean Jorge Rojas, had the brilliant idea of anticipating the football festival that would take place in his country the following year. Thus, he composed a song that, interpreted by the band and Germán Casa on vocals, inaugurated the tradition of having an Official Song in each World Cup. The song was a huge hit, and it is still danced and heard at many Chilean parties: «Even if it is in defeat, we will dance rock and roll…». There are not a few who think that no subsequent song has been able to surpass it. Listen to it and compare it with those that came later.
The Scottish Lonnie Donegan was a benchmark of pre-Beatles British music even in the sixties, and his style skiffles It is appreciated in this song that, moreover, it bears the name of the first “Official Mascot” of the World Cups, the Lion Willie.
World Cup Willie was the first official song created by an organization (the success of Los Ramblers was not in anyone’s plans), and the truth is that it was quickly forgotten. More as a commitment than as an element of mass attraction, some of the official songs of the following World Cups were more like “Institutional Hymns” than popular music hits as such. Today it is hard to believe, but FIFA did not see a business in it…
The Polish Maryla Rodowicz performed the song Soccer at the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Germany and, incidentally, took center stage from the pompous Official Fanfare by Werner Drexler that the organizers had conceived as the Anthem of that World Cup. Very well done Maryla!
The organization of the World Cup in Argentina wanted to have a star of universal fame to create the World Cup anthem, and Ennio Morricone met the requirements to spare. Seen over the years, neither FIFA nor the organizers still agreed on if what they wanted was a hymn, a fanfare or a song, three things that are not the same (For a few years, each World Cup has its song, its anthem and even its official album). In short: Ennio did what he knew how to do best, and the result was better (or, at least, very different) from that of the military march that the organization also wanted to institutionalize.
The unmistakable chords of a pasodoble –which evokes a bullfight more than football–, with Plácido Domingo describing a game day –more from the 70s than the 80s–… Franco had died years ago, and we were in a new decade, but the organizers still didn’t know it.
The Chilean Juan Carlos Abara was in charge of composing the official World Cup anthem, although for a lot It was this song by American DJ Joe Hood the true anthem of Mexico 86 ′.
We are starting a new decade, and everyone already knows the power of a good video clip. A random song is not enough, neither logos nor images random. Gianna Nannini and Edoardo Bennato did their best to create a hymn or song that, even so, did not stop being an “institutional” propaganda.
Daryl Hall (of Hall & Oates) provided his voice to what was (finally!) one of the last honeyed songs for a World Cup. It is hard to understand that for so many years neither FIFA nor the organizers did not understand that the Soccer World Cups are, above all, a party, and not a civic event or a fair to raise funds.
Only four years passed, but it seemed like four decades. Ricky Martin was already famous in Latin America, and his next stop was global. Finally a World Cup song that was danced in discos, parties and any event, whether or not it had to do with football. And it didn’t matter if the lyrics were in English or Spanish In the case of a World Cup on French soil, and with him saying “there! there! there!«» was enough and more than enough for this success –not only in the World Cup– but also in music in 1998. The songs of civic act were over, and the football party began. Or show business, if you prefer…
After Ricky Martin’s huge success with “La copa de la vida”, the organizers seemed to understand how a song had to be for the times in which they lived. No more fanfares, marches, or sugary hymns that sounded like a bad tourism commercial. For the World Cup in Korea / Japan they wanted to repeat the formula with Anastacia, an artist who was then at the height of her popularity. But she couldn’t achieve the success of the previous World Cup, and the reasons at this point are not clear, although many think that the song was simply not good.
After France 1998 we all thought we were rid of sugar-coated anthems forever, but Germany 2006 marked a clear setback with their “The Times of Our Live, where Toni Braxton and Il Divo (!) put lyrics, voice and music to a song more worthy of waiting at the dentist than a World Cup. Ten years earlier, with titanic about to be released, perhaps it would have made more sense. But for no reason in this new century.
Luckily the nightmares don’t last that long. The World Cup in South Africa was a success in several ways, including commissioning Shakira for the Official Song. The Colombian artist that same year would release one of her most successful albums, the sun risesand the truth is that in the end everything fit together perfectly: the song was a huge hit, his album too, the World Cup was won by Spain and Shakira met Gerard Piqué while recording the video.
The song for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil was not bad: in fact, it had all the ingredients to succeed: familiar faces and voices; histrionic choreographies; scenes of matches, players and goals, all packaged in an excellently made video. But something did not end up working out, it was quickly forgotten. Perhaps she was repeating herself, insisting on an idea that had already worked worldwide, but that no longer had such an impact. A shame for Pitbull, JLo and Claudia Leitte, who sings amazing and dances even better.
Something weird can happen when you bring Nicky Jam, Will Smith, Era Istrefi and Diplo together to create an official song. For example, that the result looks like a collage or sticking together of shots and audios made in a recording room, more in a hurry than with art (although there are a couple of scenes in which they all appear together, so that we are not so badly thought out). . For the rest, finding official videos of this “anthem” costs a lot, surely due to the sanctions and blockades that Russia has been exposed to after its invasion of Ukraine.
Have you heard her? Have you danced it at a party? If not, don’t worry… because we haven’t heard it much either, let’s say. The restrictions imposed by Qatar are noticeable in the video, which shows us all the protagonists quite restrained, with scenes of celebration that are not too effusive. Anyway, the World Cup is just beginning, and we don’t know how far the fame of Hayya Hayya.