C O U N T D O W N T O B R A Z I L 2 0 14 : 2 0 W E E K S T O G O
World Cup party music
Waka Waka Shakira performs the official song at the World Cup in South Africa.
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
o football festival is complete without music, or more specifically a hair-raising anthem to rouse the teams as they enter the pitch, one that can be whole- heartedly and repeatedly belted out by fans. The idea was first put into practice at the 1962 World Cup in Chile with Los Ramblers’ “El Rock del Mundial” (The World Cup Rock). The catchy combination of clapping and the shrill of a referee’s whistle turned it into an instant favourite. “El Rock del Mundial” was a hit in South America, with over two million copies of the single sold. However, the next official World Cup song proved just how difficult the task of
sound, interspersed with New Orleans-style jazz, laughable lyrics and Donegan’s squawking was widely shunned by the public and even in England the song failed to make it into the charts. Yet it did serve its purpose: so unsettled were the other participating countries whenever they heard “World Cup Willie” that they practically gave up without a fight and allowed the hosts to march to the title. Whether or not matters improved over the following decade is up for discussion, but Polin Maryla Rodowicz’s inexplicably overly-dramatic “Futbol” at the World Cup in Germany was another backward step. Songs erred on the side of caution in subsequent years, with a preference for classical orchestras and booming tenors, before Edoardo Bennato and Gianna Nannini lit up an already memorable World Cup at Italy 1990 with a thumping chorus in “Un’ estate italiana”, which was a huge success in Western Europe. However, the melody and voices were too unfamiliar to the rest of the world for the song to be a global hit. A compromise seems to have been reached at recent tournament editions, with two or even three versions of the official anthem recorded. The World Cup in South Africa triumphed with “Waka Waka”, by Shakira and Freshlyground. The Colombian artist is famed for fusing Latin American sounds with different global styles, while the South African band Freshlyground have a Pan-African flavour. It was no surprise that it became the most successful World Cup song to date. Å
creating a tune to capture the spirit of the age could be, in both a musical and footballing sense, as well as taking regional tastes and styles into account. Curiously, given that The Beatles had just released their era-defining album “Rubber Soul”, it was the English who produced the painfully cringe-worthy “World Cup Willie (Where in this World are we Going)”. It was hard not to feel sorry for Lonnie Donegan, who was charged with singing it. Donegan, who died in 2002, had been a major influence in British pop history by rekindling American folk music with his skiffle sound, including a washboard, banjo and tea-chest base as early as 1956. Rock and Roll it was not, but even The Beatles started out as a skiffle group. By 1966 however, Donegan’s heyday was long gone. The banjo’s rickety T H E F I FA W E E K LY