FIFA World Cup: From ‘Cup of Life’ to ‘Wavin Flag’, iconic theme songs over the years

Music has been a constant feature in football, particularly among fans, who used songs and chants to express themselves. But it was only in 1962 that World Cup organisers began to recognise this and have an official theme song or an anthem or both.

The history of official World Cup songs began in Chile in 1962 when a number by Los Ramblers, a Chile-based band, titled ‘El Rock del Mundial’ was declared the official song of the World Cup. The song though was more of a cheer anthem for Chile’s national team and failed to carry a global appeal.

Over the next few World Cups, host nations deployed songs that were rooted in local appeal, a far cry from the attempts to go global these days.

1978 World Cup, Argentina

Things stepped up a notch when Italian music legend Ennio Morricone was roped in to compose the official song for the 1978 World Cup hosted by Argentina. He produced a lyric-less piece, called ‘El Mundial’, along with Buenos Aires Philharmonic, which is still considered by many to be one of the best World Cup songs.

1982 World Cup, Spain

Spain 1982 followed the blueprint by bringing in Spanish conductor Plácido Domingo, who created Mundial’82, an energetic, bouncy piece steeped in Spanish culture.

1994 World Cup, USA

Cut to 1994, and it was time for ‘Gloryland’ by Daryl Hall and Sounds of Blackness. The song was an unabashed advertisement of the nationalist pride of the host, the USA.

1998 World Cup, France

In France in 1998, the official anthem – La Cour des Grands (Do You Mind If I Play) by Youssou N’Dour and Axelle Red, was forgotten by most, while the official song lasted the test of time. La Copa de la Vida or The Cup of Life by Ricky Martin continues to be loved intensely by fans to date for its uplifting feel.

2010 World Cup, South Africa

South Africa 2010 was blessed with two great songs – Wavin’ Flag, performed by K’Naan, as the Official Anthem and ‘Waka Waka’, by Shakira and featuring Freshlyground, as the official song. These two combined to raise the profile of the World Cup songs and made it an eagerly awaited feature of the tournament.

2014 World Cup, Brazil

While Carlos Santana, Wyclef, Avicii, and Alexandre Pires collaborated to produce the Official anthem, titled ‘Dar um Jeito’ (We Will Find a Way) for the Brazil World Cup in 2014, it was the official song, ‘We Are One (Ole Ola)’ by Pitbull, Jennifer Lopez and Claudia Leitte that became a rage across the globe.

2018 World Cup, Russia

Russia 2018’s official song ‘Live It Up’ was created by Nicky Jam, Will Smith and Era Istrefi and carried the energy of what turned out to be an exciting tournament.

2022 World Cup, Qatar

For Qatar 2022, the official song, titled ‘Hayya Hayya (Better Together)’ was launched on April 2022. The song was a product of the creative collaboration of Trinidad Cardona, Davido and Aisha.

“By bringing together voices from the Americas, Africa and the Middle East, this song symbolises how music – and football – can unite the world,” said FIFA Chief Commercial Officer Kay Madati during the launch of the song.

According to the FIFA website, the song draws on R&B and reggae influences and symbolises the excitement of a football festival waiting to happen in Qatar.

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