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Dublin: 5°C Wednesday 25 November 2020

Ranking the 9 best World Cup songs ever because, let's face it, this year's are appalling

It’s safe to say that all of these are better than whatever garbage Pitbull and Gary Barlow have hashed together.

9. Liam Harrison and the Goal Celebrities – Give It A Lash Jack

In reality this is nowhere near one of the best World Cup songs. In fact, the Guardian saw fit to include it on a list of awful World Cup songs a few years ago.

Frankly, that’s an insult.

You see, nothing captures the euphoria of a country preparing for its first World Cup like a series of swaggering boasts about our plans to dominate and humiliate the game’s great nations to the point that they would wish they were Irish.

And it gave birth to the phrase “Mick McCarthy bite yer legs”, so it deserves its place on the list for that reason alone.

Source: ddude119/YouTube

8. Ricky Martin – La Copa de la Vida

La Copa de la Vida, the official song of France 98, is usually seen as the first great World Cup anthem and the consensus choice when it comes to these lists of the best ever.

Don’t get us wrong – it’s a seriously catchy tune and it does a great job of capturing the energy, excitement and passion of the World Cup.

But does it bring back great memories or make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck? Not for us, anyway.

Source: RickyMartinVEVO/YouTube

7. Dario G – Carneval de Paris

If anything this, not La Copa de la Vida, should have been the official anthem of the France 98 World Cup.

English dance trio Dario G — named in honour of then-Crewe Alexandra manager Dario Gradi — managed to cram in instruments from each of the 32 competing nations and still make an anthem that just says PARTY!

Try it yourself — that’s not an easy thing to do.

Source: drammen91/YouTube

6. K’naan – Waving Flag

K’naan originally wrote Waving Flag about the struggles of growing up in Somalia and the dream that one day his war-torn country would be free. Once Coca Cola decided that they wanted it for their World Cup 2010 ad campaign, that all had to change.

But even after the rewrite and the addition of some pretty contrived tribal drums, the lyrics of unity and pride seemed to chime perfectly with a world falling for South Africa’s Bafana Bafana… and starting to hate those blasted vuvuzelas.

Pesky advertisers playing on our emotions again.

Source: Juan Leon/YouTube

5. New Order – World in Motion

Cultural historians will tell you that World in Motion represents a time when society stopped looking down its nose at football as a hooligan’s pastime and began to embrace it.

Us? We just like the bit where John Barnes raps.

Source: RhinoEntertainment/YouTube

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4. Three Lions 98 – Frank Skinner, David Baddiel and the Lightning Seeds

Yes it’s a chest-thumping English anthem. Yes, the lyrics are brutally corny. Yes, there is something gratingly narcissistic about the “Football’s Coming Home” chorus, even more so when Euro 96 was a distant memory.

But if there’s a football fan on the planet who cannot identify with the tear-stained footage of Gareth Southgate’s missed penalty, and the plaintive mournful refrain of “We still believe,” we’re yet to meet them.

Source: LightningSeedsVEVO/YouTube

3. The Three Tenors – Nessun Dorma

Is Nessun Dorma, the iconic aria from Turandot, really a World Cup song? Really?

(It is if we say it is. Plus, if you do enough digging, we’re pretty sure you’ll find that Puccini was a classy ball-playing centre-half back in his day. All that stuff about princes, princesses, riddles and love is just one big football allegory anyway.)

In all seriousness, BBC’s decision to use Nessun Dorma as the soundtrack to their Italia 90 coverage meant that it immediately became a part of the football consciousness, to the point where Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras took centre stage at World Cups in the 90s and the early 2000s.

All’alba vincerò! 

Source: Decca Records Classical/YouTube

2. Shakira – Waka Waka

Before you ask, no, we’re not saying that Waka Waka is a better piece of music than the timeless and iconic Nessun Dorma.

What we are saying is that it is head and shoulders above every other “official” World Cup song ever written… that includes you Ricky Martin, pipe down.

It’s three-and-a-half minutes of pure, unapologetic pop laced with African sounds and an unavoidable reminder of what the 2010 tournament meant not just to one country but to an entire continent.

(Disclaimer: We’d have had it at number one but we thought we’d be lynched.)

Source: shakiraVEVO/YouTube

1. Put ‘Em Under Pressure

Even when we’re all old men and women, we’ll still know the words to Put ‘Em Under Pressure.

It will still send a glorious shiver down our spines.

And we’ll still be smiling, remembering Big Jack, Kevin Sheedy put the ball in the English net, Dunphy’s pen, nice one Timofte, a nation holds its breath, fuck Schillaci, and all the rest.

Source: BigNoel12345/YouTube

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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