The football World Cup matches feature several stars: Top scorers, goalkeepers, referees and of course, the teams themselves. There are also supporting characters who can be just as important as the players, like the championship's mascot. But in addition to having its own mascot, each World Cup has had its own theme song. And some of those songs have turned into true football hymns, they have crossed the barriers of time and have become classics on their own right, surviving in the fans' minds. How many of them can you hum without looking them up?
#5 Un Estate Italiana
This is one of football fans' favourites, and there's no room for discussion. It was the theme song of Italy '90. It is one of the tournament's most emotional songs and has moved countless football fans to tears. The song was also recorded in English, under the title "To Be Number One". It was composed by famous Italian electronic musician Giorgio Moroder and the lyrics were written by Tom Whitlock. The Italian version was released on December 9, 1989.
Recorded by Gianna Nannini
Gianna Nannini was the Italian singer who recorded "Un Estate Italiana" and turned it into a worldwide success. She shares the honour with Bennato Edoardo, who provided back-up vocals. While Nannini was already a very famous singer in her country, her brother, Alessandro, was a renowned Formula 1 racer. Sport ran through the family's veins and "Un Estate Italiana" carved a place for Nannini in the memory of football fans all around the world.
"Anthem" was the 2002 World Cup's theme song. It was composed in a way that would make fans feel the epic at play on the pitch. Vangelis, one of the most important composers of the twentieth century, was commissioned to create the song. "Chariots of fire", the theme song to the film of the same name, had already garnered him numerous awards, and had turned him into one of the most sought-after composers in the music industry.
Recorded by Vangelis
Vangelis is a Greek contemporary composer. He's been known to create solemn, mysterious and enveloping songs. "Chariots of Fire" won him an Oscar for best soundtrack in 1981. He uses mostly synthesizers and occasionally acoustic instruments, which makes his songs difficult to categorise. Some disregard him as merely an icon of the New Age movement, while others see him as a talented electronic musician.
#3 Waving Flag
The theme song for South Africa 2010 was the subject of much controversy. Some fans of the song seem to think that it does faithfully represent the spirit of the game. But most football fans seem to disagree. While Shakira's "Waka waka" was the official World Cup's theme song, the alternative "Waving Flag", written, composed and recorded by African musicians, is the most fondly remembered one.
Recorded by K'naan
"Waving Flag" was a written by K'naan, a Somali rapper. The song first reached the public through the tournament's TV commercial and immediately bought our hearts over. The original version narrates the social problems of African peoples, with a message of hope for a better future. It also features more prominent drums and highlights the emotional aspect of the peoples' struggles. The song was translated into several languages and managed to completely outshine "Waka Waka".
"Gloryland", the theme song to the World Cup's 1994 edition, was highly controversial too. But it belongs to this ranking because of its astounding rhythm section. It is a perfect mix of soul, rock and blues, displaying the rich musical heritage of the United States. It's a homage to athletes' everyday struggle to overcome themselves and a call for football fans to let their inner flames glow.
Recorded by Daryl Hall
Daryl Hall wrote "Gloryland". He's from Pennsylvania and was already very famous in the U.S. for playing in a duo with John Oates. Many were surprised when he was commissioned to write the theme song. People had expected a more famous artist, like Michael Jackson or Sting or even the New Kids On the Block. But "Gloryland" lived up to the expectations and is now fondly remembered as one of the best World Cup theme songs of all times.
#1 The cup of life
"The Cup of Life" has got to be the best remembered song in the history of the World Cup. In the late nineties, Ricky Martin was at the peak of his fame. When he was signed to sing the tournament's official song, he was the most famous artist to have ever done so. The lyrics echoing the fans's typical chants and the song's catchy rhythm have earned it a place in the fans' hearts.
By Ricky Martin
Ricky Martin was already a famous pop singer in the Spanish-speaking world at the time of the World Cup in France. He turned into a mainstream pop star after singing the tournament's theme. When it was commercially released, the song reached number one on the charts across the globe, helping establish Latin pop in the international music scene. Neither Martin nor the genre have left that place since, a feat that turns this into the best World Cup theme song of all times.