Every four years, around the time of the greatest show on this planet, football songs waft out of the radio in increasing frequency, comforting reminders of decades of elusive victory. The whole point of a football song is to serve as a collective call to arms, a sports national anthem meant to propel a nation into glory. It absolutely must make you believe that winning the World Cup is possible. Before the world cup begins the host country would usually get its biggest named composers and producers to do the song which will then be performed by an internationally famous pop star. Well it all began in 1962 in Chile when they released the Spanish number “El Rock del Mundial”. Since then, a lot has changed over the years. Football has evolved as a sport and continues to rule millions of hearts across the planet. The FIFA Anthem songs earlier were solely related to football and depicted the popularity of the sport, but now it is not the same. A lot more thinking is being shovelled into the lyrics and it does not restrict itself only to the love of the sport. It is more about the countries, bringing them together, uniting them. So let us delve into some of the FIFA Anthem songs which along with signifying the love of the sport, also depicts all the aspects around it and how it impacts millions across this planet.
“When I get older I will be stronger, they’ll call me freedom just like a waving flag…”
The song became an International Anthem after its powerful words of hope crossed generations and borders, and made K’NAAN an international star. The Canadian-Somalian hip hop singer, K’NAAN made headlines just before the 2010 FIFA world cup in South Africa. The Anthem gripped the nation and countries worldwide, with many humming the lyrics all throughout the world cup season. Through the lyrics he tells a story about his struggle, his life through violence and provides a brief history of the Somalian conflict. When the Somali Civil War began in 1991, K’NAAN was just thirteen. His mother made the difficult decision to move her family so that they could grow up in safety. First in New York and then in Toronto, K’NAAN had to face many challenges. So, how did it become the FIFA Anthem? The third single which was released off his Troubadour album of 2009, not only brought the Toronto singer-songwriter Juno recognition as Artist of the Year, but it also morphed into an anthem for both Haiti and the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The original was an evocative “rap-meets-reggae-meets-R & B”, a memoir of K’naan’s childhood in the streets of Mogadishu during the Somali civil war. “Wavin’ Flag” got rearranged by K’naan, FIFA and Coca Cola for the dancey “Celebration Mix,” a South African drum-thumping, fist-pumping, everybody-jumping version with a video co-starring K’naan and Spanish pop singer David Bisbal. Now if we dig deeper into the lyrics, they’re more about the world coming together than a land coming apart. Many do not know that a third version was made, the one to benefit victims of the devastating January earthquake in Haiti, the one recorded in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympic Games. The Young Artists for Haiti performance brought together some of the hottest Canadian acts in the business, including Drake, Hedley, Avril Lavigne, Nelly Furtado, Sam Roberts, Jully Black and, last but not least, the latest pop-ups Justin Bieber and Nikki Yanofsky. So, a world coming together for a land falling apart. The song evoked an emotional response all throughout the globe. The lyrics was about getting stronger and attaining a freedom and it came across in the melody.
Now let us talk about the “We Are One” Pitbull song.
“Put your flags up in the sky (put them in the sky)
And wave them side to side (side to side)
Show the world where you’re from (show them where you’re from)
Show the world we are one (one love, life)”
Mr. Worldwide, Pitbull along with guest vocals from pop singer Jennifer Lopez and Brazilian singer Claudia Leitte raps in the beginning of the song,
“It’s only right we did something for the World Cup
Seven continents, 195 countries
Give it take three, but one world
I’ve been around the world
Never seen so many things
Even though we may be different
We’re really all the same”
The marketers are grappling with this song as they try to engineer a “pan latin” global mega-hit, hoping to repeat the raging success of past World Cup songs like Shakira’s impossibly catchy “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)” and Ricky Martin’s “The Cup of Life.” With the ongoing protests in Brazil against the hosting of the mega event, this year’s FIFA anthem seems to have been constructed which demands unity against all that is prevalent in the recent World Cup. It is a well-produced danceable tune that is not bad at all. But users of social media say otherwise. In a strange campaign that has now spread all over the world, the song has been condemned as not Brazilian enough and not good enough for the World Cup.
One of the most famous and popular World Cup songs ever to be created was “La Copa de la Vida” or “The Cup of Life” which was the theme of the games held in France in 1998. The song was written and produced by Desmond Child and former Menudo, Robi Rosa. It was performed by another ex-Menudo, Ricky Martin. It was all about the beautiful game of football and the love it spreads.
Shakira’s “Waka Waka (This time for Africa)”, which broke all records on youtube, represented the vitality and energy of the host country, South Africa four years ago. The original song, “Zangalewa” from which the catchy number was adopted by Shakira, was more inclined towards the glory of Cameroonian military.
The synergies between football and music could hardly be more apparent or harmonious, with both stirring human emotions across the globe like almost nothing else. As world-renowned Colombian star Juanes describes it, “You throw yourself into it, and it moves something within people. You need your feet for football and you need words for music, but fundamentally they arouse one and the same thing: passion.” When the whole aspect of the game is changing it will be interesting to note the Anthems which are yet to be written. Let us wait for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Russia.