While the World Cup is mostly memorable for what happens on the pitch, the tournament over the years has provided some absolute bangers when it comes to the soundtrack of the game.
Think of this edition of the Ladbrokes Blog like we’ve released a “So Fresh – the Best of the World Cup” compilation.
The biggest sporting event in the world has a long and proud tradition of awesome anthems, cheesy classics and songs that are downright cringe-worthy and we’re delighted to bring you 20 of them (in no particular order) to get you in the mood for the next four weeks.
Cup of Life –Ricky Martin
Nothing gets you more pumped up for a World Cup quite like the Ricky Martin classic “The Cup of Life” – the official anthem of France ’98. Ole! Ole! Ole!
Gloryland – Hall and Oates – USA 1994
When the World Cup was hosted by the USA in 1994, they enlisted Hall and Oates to sing the official anthem of the tournament – “Gloryland”. The song was performed at the opening and closing ceremonies and was the lead track in the official album of the 1994 World Cup.
Heading For The Top – Song for the NZ All Whites – World Cup 1982/2010
When the Kiwi’s qualified for the 1982 World Cup, they enlisted local crooner Ray Woolf to sing the teams official anthem “Heading for the top” with the All-Whites team joining in the chorus. This tune is sure to stir up emotions and quite possibly on par with “Slice of Heaven” by Dave Dobbyn as being extremely patriotic for our Kiwi friends. There was a revival of this tune in 2010 when the All-Whites made it to South Africa as the only team to go undefeated in the tournament.
Vindaloo – Fat Les
With the collaboration of Blur, Pink Floyd and an English comedian, you’ve got this celebration of English multiculturalism in one song released in time for their France 1998 World Cup campaign. This song has very little references to football and the video clip is a pisstake of Bitter Sweet Symphony. It also features Matt Lucas and David Walliams of Little Brittain and a young Lilly Allen. This musical masterpiece also reached number two on the British charts during France 98.
Three Lions 98 – Lightning Seeds
One of the most iconic football songs, Three Lions was originally released for England’s Euro 96 campaign when the band Lightning Seeds teamed up with hosts of the comedy show – Fantasy Football League David Baddiel and Frank Skinner. It was re-written for France 98 and is only one of three songs to top the British charts twice with different lyrics along with “Mambo number 5” Bob the Builder/Lou Bega and “Do They Know it’s Christmas” Band Aid/Band Aid 30. Both versions are absolute classics.
World In Motion – New Order
Going into Italy 1990, the FA’s press secretary was a big New Order fan and wanted something different and enlisted them to record their anthem for the World Cup. They produced one of their most iconic tracks (of which there are many) and enlisted English footballer John Barnes to do rap in the track.
Here Come the Socceroos – Chris “The Bloke” Franklin
When the Socceroos finally broke the drought on that magical night in 2005, SBS ran an Australian Idol-style reality show “Song for the Socceroos” where the viewers could vote for what would be Australia’s anthem in Germany. The man behind the hit novelty single “bloke” Chris Franklin attempted to get in on the contest with “Here come the Socceroos”, it didn’t win.
Green and Gold – Freedom of Thought
The winner of the SBS show “Song for the Socceroos”, this song has a whole heap of “umph” to it and certainly takes us to a happy place of that magical month when Australia showed they could be right amongst it at the World Cup back in 06.
Put ‘Em Under Pressure – Ireland Team 1990
Ireland’s 1990 World Cup song is sure to get anyone Irish’s blood pumping. Featuring soundbites of then manager Jack Charlton and a mixture of football chants, this is an all-time classic football song.
Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) – Shakira World Cup 2010
It seemed strange that when the World Cup was held in South Africa, they opted for a South American artist in Shakira to sing the anthem, but it happens to be the eighth most viewed YouTube clip of all time and dominated the charts all over the world. Her hips don’t lie, nor do the numbers. Waka Waka.
Wavin’ Flag – K’naan
Originally not intended as a football song, this track was originally written as a song for Somalia and its aspirations for freedom. It was adapted by Coca-Cola as part of their 2010 World Cup advertising campaign and embraced by football fans worldwide.
Hot Legs – M.A.T.C.H (Denmark – France 1998)
Quite possibly the cheesiest song to ever be included in a World Cup soundtrack, Danish group M.A.T.C.H. released this track in both English and the native tongue and sounds like something that belongs in Eurovision. This song will also stay in your head, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Samba E Gol – Bellini
Only one word can describe this track – Banger.
Un verano italiano – Gianna Nannini & Edoardo Bennato
The official anthem to Italy 1990 which means “To be number one” in English is very much a song of its time in a big rock power ballad and was performed at the opening ceremony of the tournament.
Far Away In America – The Village People
The Village People. German 1994 World Cup Squad. Try and get through watching this without pissing yourself laughing. We dare you.
We Have A Dream – Scotland World Cup Squad 1982
The anthem for Scotland’s World Cup 1982 campaign, is, let’s say…very Scottish.
Time of Our Lives – Ill Divo World Cup 2006
Rather than enlisting iconic German artists like Rammstein or Kraftwerk to sing the anthem for the 2006 World Cup, the organisers cornered your Nana’s favourite band for their world cup anthem.
Noble England – Rik Mayall
The late, great legendary English comedian Rik Mayall of the Young Ones, Drop Dead Fred, Lord Flasheart from Blackadder fame released this track prior to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. It failed to chart but when Myall tragically passed away at the age of 56 in 2014, a campaign from fans to get the song in the charts for the 2014 World Cup worked with his battle cry track reaching number seven.
Live It Up – Nicky Jam feat. Will Smith & Era Istrefi 2018 World Cup Anthem
To finish off the list, here’s the official song for this years tournament. The author is undecided if he likes or not.
Zinedine Zidane – Vaudeville Smash ft. Les Murray
When the late, great Les Murray teamed up with an unsigned self-produced track from Melbourne band Vaudeville Smash to produce the ultimate football song back in 2014, it was an instant classic. Watching the World Cup is simply won’t be the same without Les. RIP.