Tuned to the cup
With the greatest show on earth kicking off today, we take a look at a trend that’s been steadily on the rise – World Cup songs.
IF World Cup songs have left a sickening aftertaste in your mouth, especially after you watched Menudo alumni Ricky Martin shake his bon bon on La Copa de la Vida (The Cup Of Life) for the 1998 edition of the tournament, don’t worry, you’re in good company. And we’re not even talking about that song in particular, we’re talking about the repulsion World Cup songs generally generate.
Think about it, even in the stadiums in Shah Alam and Bukit Jalil, the relentless chorus chant Ole Ole Ole can be constantly heard ... to this day. Heck, even at a Scorpions concert some years ago in Stadium Merdeka, fans were singing the tune. Such is the fervour of fast food music.
That said, the latest instalment in World Cup songs sees Colombian hottie Shakira revelling in the tournament’s euphoria with official song Waka Waka ( This Time For Africa), featuring South African group Freshlyground.
But the general consensus has it that K’naan’s balmy Wavin’ Flag is a better candidate for a World Cup theme song. The Canadian/Somalian singer’s withdrawn vocal style lends it a nice and easy vibe ... perhaps best suited when you’re down and out once your team’s been booted out of the tournament.
At the last instalment of the tourney in Germany, the Simon Cowell-championed trite Il Divo and Toni Braxton collaborated for the lethargic The Time Of Our Lives. Come on, when you see the title, it sounds like an upbeat song that’s perfect for a fast-paced game like football. But put it on, and you’ll want to take it off just as quickly. Snooze-fest material – certified!
The same can’t be said of the sassy Anastacia, though, who got the rafters rattling with the sensational Boom. Now this mama can raise the roof, what more with this funked up piece. This 2002 official World Cup song has a great video to boot, too.
Probably past his use-by-date, Daryl Hall (of Hall & Oates fame) still got the nod to handle the official song along with Sounds Of Blackness for the 1994 games in where else, but the US of A. Once again, it’s a dreary affair, and pretty much reflects that nation’s comprehension of the game. This isn’t one to light up the greatest show on earth.
Although the 1990 World Cup has to be considered part of the 1990s, the music and scenes were still very much the 1980s, just like the official theme Un Estate Italiana, sung as a duet by Gianna Nannini and Edoardo Bennato. This is truly 1980s with its pastiche of synths and guitars, but the song’s video accurately captured the atmosphere of global unity in sports.
For kids of the 1980s though, the official song, Special Kind Of Hero, sung by Stephanie Lawrence and written by renowned keyboardist extraordinaire Rick Wakeman (he, of legendary prog rock band Yes), perfectly encapsulated the 1986 tournament in Mexico in which Diego Maradona was hailed as the hero. No surprise that the World Cup movie that came out months later was named Hero. This one brings tears to the eyes, it does.
Spain’s hosting of the tournament in 1982 saw the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra drum up BBC World Cup Grand Stand. The tournament in 1978 in Argentina had San Jose performing the Andrew Lloyd Webber-written piece Argentine Melody ( Cancion de Argentina), along with an inconspicuously named collaborator, Rodriguez Argentina.
If you haven’t guessed, that’s Rod Argent, another rock keyboard god who was in the 1960s British beat group The Zombies. It was Argent who played on the band’s monumental Time Of The Season, and later went on to form his own band Argent in the 1970s, who also had a classic hit with Hold Your Head Up.
Of course, national teams have had their own World Cup songs, too. The Socceroos were treated to Green And Gold by Freedom Of Thought at the last tournament in Germany.
England has perhaps some of the more “memorable” tunes. Who could forget John Barnes’s rap segment on New Order’s World