GOOOOAALLLL!! Ranking The Best World Cup Songs


Alright, in all honesty, I’m sorry if those caps lock letters (and the gif of Ross hyping himself up to play RUGBY) misled you  – I actually don’t care about the World Cup. I’m not into soccer, and I didn’t realize it was a huge deal and, like, the soccer Olympics until 2010 when I was fairly new to Los Angeles and everyone was super into it. Sports have just never been my main jam, okay?

You know what is my jam? Music by artists I recognize. Every year, there’s an official championship theme song used during the course of the World Cup and in ads to promote it. While some are less than inspirational, there are a number that have perfectly captured the spirit of the games. After listening to all the songs, I’ve compiled a list of the best songs since its inception in 1962.

A few notes: I only chose songs that were official World Cup anthems (with one exception) and again, since I have never had interest in the World Cup, I am basing my ranking on hearing these tracks for the first time (with two exceptions), and going with my gut Olivia Pope style, so clearly this list is purely subjective.

8) Anthem by Vangelis

{South Korea & Japan 2002}

I appreciate that this is just a pure dance track with no inspirational lyrics at all, going against all the previous songs, which you know, have lyrics. At least it goes well with the montage in this video.

7) El Rock del Mundial by Los Ramblers

{Chile 1962}

There’s something to be said about a song that captures not only the spirit of the World Cup but the time period as well. There’s no doubt that this song was made in 1962 – it’s like listening to a time capsule. I’m not a hardcore audiophile, so I don’t think I’ve ever heard 60s rock and roll music that wasn’t in English – and for 2 minutes and 47 seconds, I felt like I was transported to Chile and living in a black and white world.

6) Futbol by Maryla Rodowicz

{Germany 1974}

Although the World Cup was in Germany, this song is in Polish, and I can’t get over how wonderfully disco and corny it is. Literally the chorus is “Futbol, futbol, futbol”. I mean, at least this chick is on message – and SUPER passionate about it.

5) Gloryland by Daryl Hall, Sounds of Blackness

{USA 1994}

Daryl Hall. Of Hall & Oates. This song screams America – which kind of defeats the purpose of being all “the world is gathering in one place in the spirit of good sportsmanship”, but whatever. Daryl Hall’s voice has a quality about it that makes me believe whatever he is selling. As in, he could be singing Maneater and I’m all, ‘YEAH THAT BITCH IS DEFINITELY CRAY’ and with Gloryland, he’s singing ‘Believe in what you do/and you’ll go straight to see it through/on the road to Gloryland’ and I’m all ‘I CAN ACHIEVE ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS, DARYL HALL! I’M ON MY WAY TO GLORYLAND!’ I buy it.

4) Un Estate Italiana by Gianna Nannini & Edoardo Bennato

{Italy 1990}

Speaking of passion, these Italian dudes definitely have it. We all know that everyone in Europe and Latin America are super hardcore about ‘football’ and these singers are showing their love for the sport in this track. Plus, it just sounds better when you sing in Italian, “magic nights following a goal under the sky of an Italian summer”. Even Daryl Hall couldn’t pull that off without sounding like a pretentious dillweed.

3) Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) by Shakira, featuring Freshly Ground

{South Africa 2010}

I feel like Shakira was put on this planet to record the official song for the World Cup. It just first her, you know?

2) Wavin’ Flag by K’naan feat. David Bisbal

{South Africa 2010}

Okay, so this song wasn’t the official track for South Africa that year – Shakira took that title. But K’naan – a Somalia-born Canadian – wrote this song inspired by the stories of refugees, and that theme of not giving up, both in the face of adversity and as simple as losing a soccer match, is what makes this song perfect for the World Cup.

1) The Cup of Life by Ricky Martin

{France 1998}

Like many people who tuned into the 1999 Grammy Awards, I distinctly remember watching Ricky Martin perform this, and that’s when my crush formed for this Latin heartthrob. It’s everything that a sports anthem should be – upbeat, catchy, celebratory, and include lyrics that everyone can remember and sing along to. It’s hard not to feel pumped up for a game – or for anything in life for that matter – when hearing this song.