The Best & Worst World Cup Songs Ranked
In a matter of days one of the great sporting spectacles will be upon us with the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The four week football mecca often throws up memorable games of real quality and also fairly terrible songs that accompany the teams and tournaments themselves. It’s lucky you can’t measure a World Cup by its official or unofficial theme songs as that would mean nearly all of the tournaments would be awful.
One of the tunes that has just been released with the hope of inspiring England to success is quite possibly the worst ever made. It features Ricky Wilson from the Kaiser Chiefs and former cricketing star Freddie Flintoff ‘rebooting’ or should that be ‘murdering’ the Boney M. classic Rasputin as they re-work the original lyrics into a turgid love letter to lantern jawed Spurs striker Harry Kane. Betting company BetStars seem to be the trouble makers behind this abomination being made. Watch it for yourself below.
If you haven’t already stuck pencils into your ears after that slice of awfulness, here’s our rundown of the best (which were hard to find by the way) and the worst (very easy to find) World Cup songs from over the years.
Shakira – Waka Waka (This time for Africa) – 2010
Just for her amazing hips and the fact that they don’t lie Shakira clearly belongs in most best lists regardless of what pop song she’s warbling at the time, but this unofficial tune for the World Cup in South Africa is actually pretty good. Overlooking the fact she’s proudly Colombian and not African Shak took it on herself to inspire a nation, and pick up number one’s all over the globe in doing so. Catchy stuff.
Youssou N’Dour and Axelle Red – La Cour des Grands (Do You Mind If I Play) – 1998
This song by Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour and Belgian musician Axelle Red bucked the trend of official World Cup songs being rubbish by actually being quite good. It ticks all the right boxes with an all-inclusive yet rousing number in which Youssou repeatedly politely asks “do you mind if I play?” Did it inspire the hosts France to win the cup that year? Probably not, but it definitely didn’t hurt.
Bellini – Samba E Gol – 1998
Another great tune to come out of the World Cup in France was German girl group Bellini’s thumping samba track that feels like a carnival for the ears. The group’s name was inspired by the surname of former Brazilian national football team’s captain Hilderaldo Bellini, who first brought his team to world champion in 1958. The video featuring some of Brazil’s best World Cup efforts is worth a watch too. If this doesn’t get you up dancing you’re probably dead inside.
New Order – World in Motion – 1990
Without argument the greatest song in the canon of World Cup songs, among those residing in England at least. We had to give it our top spot for a number of reasons. Italia 1990 was without question one of the great World Cups and this is synonymous with the gutsy efforts of the national team who cruelly missed out on a place in the final. Also it’s by New Order, who of course are brilliant and best of all it features the greatest footballer rapping in a song segment of all time thanks to John Barnes. A deserving victor.
Pitbull feat. Jennifer Lopez & Claudia Leitte – We Are One (Ole Ola) – 2014
Not just one of the worst World Cup songs ever, this is a contender for one of the worst songs in general. It starts so promisingly with a 15 second samba build heralding something very decent, and then… Pitbull opens his mouth, and it’s downhill all the way without the breaks on as he urges people to wave their flags and then repeats the words “ole, ola” till they’re seared into your mind, never to leave. J Lo attempts to revive the corpse of this song but, unfortunately it was dead on arrival. With this track backing them, it’s no wonder that years hosts Brazil stumbled to fourth place.
II Divo & Toni Braxton – The Time of Our Lives – 2006
No one had the time of their lives with this one. It’s probably the last thing any discerning footy fan would ever put on their stereos. It’s harmless enough of course, the video sees Toni Braxton in a CGI stadium on a giant screen singing about dreams growing, then II Divo join in as they hang around the centre circle of the stadium’s pitch looking like the best dressed, yet probably worst midfield quartet of all time. The song would have been more suited to a Bond film theme, if they ever wanted to kill off the franchise.
Daryl Hall & Sounds of Blackness – Gloryland – 1994
So this one is by Daryl Hall, one half of group Hall & Oates, responsible for amazing 80s smash hits like Maneater, what could possible go wrong? Everything you say? Yes everything, this is a stomach-churning ode to the greatness of America. It certainly fits with the patriotism we saw around the 94′ World Cup held in the USA, but we’re sure most state side residents wouldn’t want this as their soccer anthem. Bonus points for the video which thinks wobbly shots of national monuments makes for inspiring viewing. Note to the maker, it really doesn’t.
Anastacia – Boom – 2002
Apart from Anastacia having zero connection to the host nations of South Korea and Japan which is just about forgivable, the real sin here is that she’s managed to create one of the worst songs ever written. She’s not blameless, her co-writer and producer was Glen Ballard, the man responsible for writing duties on Michael Jackson’s Thriller & Bad albums. It seems they both had an off day. With the singer screaming out lyrics like “Boom, here to rock you, never stop no” it was always going to be a non-starter. The video features some sort of alien abduction, everyone who has listened to this song probably wished Anastacia would suffer the same fate after this.