Translated by Nadia Sol Scheneider
The song and the soccer world championship are indivisible. Naturally, with some songs more popular than others, for decades music has represented a great artistic appeal that exalts and, in the best of cases, powers the global fervor for the most popular sports competition on planet Earth every four years. Going through rock, marches, instrumentals, reggae, electronic dance music, among many others, the wide spectrum that popular music encompasses has forged a peculiar marriage with sport for more than half a century.
Approaching the Qatar 2022 World Cup anxiously, we review the sounds that musicalized the different World Cups of the last 58 years.
Just thirty-two years after the first edition of the Soccer World Cup (held in 1930), in 1962 a song was released for the first time at the rate of its seventh edition. In tune with the time (among the phenomena of Elvis Presley and prior to The Beatles) “El rock del mundial” composed by Jorge Rojas, and produced by Camilo Fernández, was intended to encourage the Chilean team.
Released as a single three weeks prior to the start of the competition, it became a considerable success in its native country, expanding with a powerful impulse throughout Latin America.
As it enhanced impact , it inexorably established itself as the music of the championship. Performed by Los Ramblers, whose musical director was Rojas himself, to this day it is the best-selling phonographic single from the trans-Andean country.
Four years later, “World Cup Willie” was published, composed by Syd Green and performed by Lonnie Donegan, an English artist of great notoriety in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The English edition of the World Cup was the first to present a pet (a custom that would become a classic attraction for other editions): in this case a lion, named World Cup Willie.
Just over two and a half minutes long, the song is predominantly skiffle (a very popular style of music from the late ’50s in England, which had a great impact and influence among young people at the time) also fusing Donegan’s jazzy past. and country music.
“Fútbol México 70” composed by Roberto Do Nascimento and performed by Los Hermanos Zavala (made up of twelve brothers, six women and six men), presents a band and the family choir welcoming the world to the championship. Being merely a jingle, it contains some characteristic elements of traditional Mexican music.
“Fussball Ist Unser Leben” (“Football is our life”, in Spanish) was the march composed and produced by the German Jack White and performed by the German National Soccer Team together with the Udo Reichel Orchestra, arranged and conducted by Jo Plée.
For this tenth edition, “Fútbol” was also released, composed by the Poles Jonasz Kofta and Leszek Bogdaniwicz and performed by Maryla Rodowicz, one of the most successful artists (if not the most) to come out of Poland. This was the first time that two separate songs were broadcast promotionally for the soccer event, also being “Fútbol”, pop-style, the first to be recorded in several languages.
“Argentina, here is the World Cup!” they begin with a male choir shouting in unison, giving way to a disco-like pop instrumental whose melody is interpreted by a choir now also made up of women. “El mundial”, also known as the “Official Melody of the ’78 World Cup”, was composed by none other than Ennio Morricone and performed by his orchestra under his baton. It is the first World Cup song to be an instrumental, the first to have a composer from a musician not belonging to the organizing country, and the first whose style is not identified with the traditional music of the same country.
In the year of our first consecration, this instrumental played incessantly on our soil, the most beautiful World Cup song up to then.
At the beginning of the 1980s, the first World Cup of the decade had its song “El Mundial: España 1982” (very original title, by the way) composed by the Spaniards José Torregrosa and Alfredo Garrido. In keeping with Morricone’s line, again an orchestral pop whose main voice was the greatest lyrical singer of the Iberian country of the 20th century: the tenor Plácido Domingo.
“The world united by a ball”, with a beginning similar to the one composed by Morricone, was the official song of our second year of glory. Performed by Juan Carlos Abara, almost two minutes long, absolutely forgettable, which rhythmically takes up the imprint of previous songs.
And that’s how we arrived at the new decade, once again with a top Argentine team and Carlos Bilardo as technical director (and a highly questionable—to be generous). Once again, an Italian was responsible for its creation: the pop legend Giorgio Moroder. The singer-songwriter, musician, and producer dazzled us for the umpteenth time with one of the most epic songs in his repertoire, reaffirming his position as one of the greatest musicians from his native country, the European continent, and — without modesty — the world.
“Un’estate italiana” (“An Italian summer”, in Spanish) —also popularly known as “Notti magiche” (“Magical Nights”)—, was performed by the duo Gianna Nannini and Edoardo Bennato, who composed its lyrics.
A power ballad of just over four minutes that with its first chords and iconic introduction shake us to this day.
Recorded in two studios, one in Milan and the other in Los Angeles (the latter owned by Moroder), it became a resounding success in Europe and Latin America, especially in our country to the point of adopting it and making it our own.
This broadcast cut was the first song from a World Cup to be distributed in maxi-single format, containing several versions of it: the original, a “stadium version”, and a karaoke.
United States 1994
Dary Hall (a member of the pop duo Hall & Oates) together with Sound of Blackness were in charge of interpreting “Gloryland”, the official song of the World Cup held in the northern country. Based on a traditional African-American gospel song, with additional lyrics added for the occasion by musicians Charlie Skarbek, Chris Skornia, John Earle and Rick Blaskey, it was produced by the latter.
The song was part of the first compilation album (with the presence of some original tracks), as a new promotional manufactured item entitled “World Cup USA ’94”, with different editions for some continents, whose variation resided in the list of songs.
Following the trend traced by Moroder eight years ago with a pop number, a Latin pop samba by Ricky Martin (who was at the edge of his career in the Spanish-American market), “La copa de la vida” was released. Composed by the Spanish Luis Gómez Escolar and the Americans Desmond Child and Draco Rosa, and produced by the latter two. Belonging to the album “Vuelve” (1998), it was published as the second single from it.
The song lifted Martin to the top of the world, making him the most popular artist in Spanish-speaking Latin America—a milestone until then only achieved by Julio Iglesias as a Spanish-speaking artist.
“La copa de la vida” represents one of the biggest hits of Martin’s career, and perhaps his most recognized around the world. Festive, powerful and vibrant, the effusiveness provoked by its four and a half minutes duration (accompanied by a massively rotated video clip on the small screen —the first time that a song from a World Cup has achieved this feat—) anticipated the “Latin boom”. of the first years of the following millennium, who knew how to conquer the North American and European record market.
Japan-South Korea 2002
American singer Anastacia was the musical face of the 2002 Japan-South Korea World Cup. Released as a single in June of that same year, “Boom” — a song that could fit perfectly on a Fast and Furious soundtrack — was composed by the singer herself and her countryman, singer-songwriter Glen Ballard who also served as producer.
Published as the third radio cut of her studio work “Freak of Nature” (2001), danceable and without skimping on energy, unlike “La copa de la vida” it is not even remotely memorable, however Anastasia shows off her amazing vocal amplitude.
In 2014 Mtv Italia declared it the favorite song composed for a World Cup. We are proud of “An Italian summer”.
“The Time of Our Lives” composed by the Swede Jorge Ëloffson and produced by Steve Mac, had as main voices the North American singer Toni Braxton and the English vocal quartet Il Divo. An emotional ballad whose lyrics oscillate between Spanish and English, it was the last ballad to date to be the official song of a World Cup.
That same year was also the first in which a pet had its own official song, in this case Goleo VI, another lion with his partner, the ball “Pillie” who danced to the sound of “Love Generation”, by the producer and French DJ Bob Sinclair. Unlike “World Cup Willie”, which was curiously both the song of the 64 World Cup and its pet, “Love Generation” was later included by FIFA as one of the World Cup songs specifically for the aforementioned pet without having been composed or posted for that reason.
South Africa 2010
Shakira began her third decade of career with one of the biggest hits, not only of the decade and of this millennium, but of her career. “Waka Waka (This is Africa)”, comes directly from “Zamina mina (Zangaléwa)” by the band Golden Sounds (later called Zangaléwa), a very popular Cameroonian song published in the mid-eighties, composed by Kojidi Émile, Do ‘o, and Ze Bella Jean-Paul, all members of the aforementioned group.
The leitmotif extracted from “Zangaléwa” has a military origin, the members of Golden Sounds were part of the African militias that fought during World War II World. This melody was popularized in Latin America at the end of the 80s by Las chicas del Can and their song “El negro no puede”.
Both Shakira and producer/singer-songwriter John Hill added the touches for what would later become “Waka Waka,” the lyrics of its Spanish version being Shakira’s own. Both officiated as producers of the same.
“Waka Waka” became an unprecedented global hit when it came to a song made for a World Championship edition.
Once again, thanks to a world cup, a Latin American artist flooded the radios, the discos, and the parties of the world (and it is until today that it does not stop ringing somewhere). “Waka Waka” made Shakira the holder of the distinction of co-writing and interpreting the most successful song for a world cup in history, even surpassing that performed by Ricky Martin. With a festive video clip (currently one of the most viewed on YouTube) and signature choreography, it was the definitive song of the year.
“We Are One (Olé Olá)” made up of almost a dozen people (among which are its interpreters Jeniffer López, Pitbull and the Brazilian Claudia Leitte, even the Australian Sia is among its co-writers), with an electronic rhythm pop and with an easily remembered chorus hook, it had its considerable success upon its release but lacked the grace of its predecessor.
The participation of another Latino like Nicky Jam, formed the trio of interpreters of “Live It Up”, along with Will Smith and the Kosovar Era Istrefi. Composed by more than a dozen people, including its performers, and co (over)produced by an exponent of mainstream electronica of this millennium, Diplo, “Live It Up” stands out futilely for not even having a captivating chorus. . Without pain or glory he went through that 2018.
On the eve of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, we can already affirm that “Hayya Hayya (Better Together)” did not have the resonance that other World Cup songs did. Another missed opportunity. A shy reggae performed by the Qatari AISHA, the North American Trinidad Cardona and the Nigerian Davido, it was composed by the latter (among others) together with an eminent pop of this millennium, RedOne, who in turn produced it.
- Since the 1986 Mexico World Cup, the music composed for the World Cup was aimed at a global audience, being the first radio pop song to inaugurate this initiative “Hot Hot Hot” (1983), by the Caribbean musician Arrow.
- It was not until 1990 that FIFA began to capitalize on the value of the song as a key sports promoter, whose first commission was made to the great Giorgio Moroder. Prior to this, the official songs without strict supervision from this institution had a rather autochthonous character and were eventually accompanied by other pieces such as hymns, the last one being released for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
- On the occasion of the 1978 Argentina World Cup, an “Official March of the 1978 World Cup” accompanied Morricone’s composition. Written by the Argentine musician and arranger Martin Darré, it was characterized by a solemn tone, to the preference of the military dictatorship that took power from 1976 to 1983. It was performed by the Symphonic Band of the City of Buenos Aires and the Choir of the Teatro Colón , directed by Vittorino Sierra.
- A rarity: a “slow version” of Morricone’s song was also released, in this case performed by Edda Dell’Orso.
- The simple “Fool in the Rain” by Led Zeppelin, belonging to the LP “In Trough the Out Door” (1979), in its embryonic stage was sketched by John Paul-Jones and Robert Plant inspired after watching the opening of the World Cup on television Argentina 1978.
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