The music of a World Cup

Zinedine Zidane - Vaudeville Smash

Zinedine Zidane, by Vaudeville Smash, wins the 2014 Musical World Cup for me.

Every time a FIFA World Cup comes around, the musical world jumps on the bandwagon. Some of the worst most uninspiring songs you’ve ever heard crawl out of the woodwork every four years, but some of the best most rousing tunes also rise up like the hand of god, and score a vital winner in our hearts and minds. Here’s a look at just a small selection of 2014’s efforts ahead of the tournament in Brazil, and a prediction on where they might end up in a World Cup tournament of their own.

Zinedine Zidane
Vaudeville Smash feat. Les Murray

All bias aside, this is your musical World Cup Winner!!! Vaudeville Smash has, indeed, smashed this one straight into the top corner from 30 yards. What a track. It would make Georgio Moroder proud, and could even have Daft Punk throwing off their helmets in wild celebration. It’s just awesome, and celebrates one of the true heroes of the world game in France’s Zizou, among many others, all read out in tones only my magnificent colleague Les Murray can deliver. None of this rubbish about coming together and raising your flags. Let’s celebrate a star of the game, and one that ended his World Cup career by head-butting an Italian opponent on the biggest stage of all. Big, ballsy, bright, bloody brilliant! This is 2014’s World In Motion, and a joy to behold.

Bass Like Home
Lily Allen

Unlike England at too many World Cups past, Lily Allen is a certain contender for the musical World Cup final with this track, which she has called her “unofficial World Cup song”. It’s as patriotic as they come, and everyone with three lions on their shirt will undoubtedly dig the lyrics. “Who gave you Shakespeare, who gave you Lennon, who gave you Gazza, twistin’ your melon,” she sings in her inimitable London accent. “God save the Queen with a pint of lager.” Hear hear. There is also mention of “Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves. We’ve been doing it since way back in the day.” Added to a thumping club beat, it’s all a quality celebration of two of England’s greatest loves: football and music. The call of “move your feet” through the song might come in handy for Rooney and his pals in Brazil, too. Bravo, Lily. Encore.

We Are One (Ole Ola)
Pitbull feat. Jennifer Lopez and Claudia Leitte

It’s got that predictable Brazilian beat to kick things off, this one. Then Pitbull starts pouring the lyrical wax, rapping about how the World Cup brings us all together. It’s all about waving flags, loving each other, and when J-Lo chimes in, Australia’s Tim Cahill gets a grab in the video. And no, not a grab of J-Lo. This one doesn’t make it out of the group stages for me. It’s stale, and it’s all been done before. We Are One, but we are bored by this. Lucky for Pitbull, he might get mistaken as David Basheer on his travels and earn back some of the respect he’ll lose for producing this ordinary tune. Hang on. Did he have any respect in the first instance? Who knows?

La La La (Brazil 2014)
Shakira feat. Carlinhos Brown

Calling in the help of her hubby’s professional footballing pals, Shakira embarks on her second World Cup journey after the smash hit of 2010 Waka Waka (This Time For Africa). Colombian countryman Radamel Falcao is missing Brazil 2014, perhaps as a result of the embarrassment caused by featuring in this video. Having said that, he’s not alone. Lionel Messi, Neymar, Sergio Aguero, Cesc Fabregas and Mr Shakira himself, Gerard Pique, all stand and look awkward at some point in this clip. The song is all about the game and how it’s played, which is good and a change from the norm, and Shakira shows her own chesting-down chops without a single mention of “small and humble breasts”. Good enough for the Round of 16, but certainly likely to lose in extra-time through a lack of stamina from there. This track is, though, contributing to a good cause, with some of the profits going to the World Food Programme’s School Meals programme. So that’s nice.

The World Is Ours
Gaby Amarantos/David Correy/ Wisin feat. Paty Cantú and David Correy

This is the official FIFA World Cup 2014 Brazil song, sponsored by Coca-Cola. But you might want to mix that black liquid with something stronger to get through listening to it. Peppered throughout with lively Brazilian beats, that’s about as good as it gets. It’s got a rousing clip of World Cup action, fans having fun and looking unrealistically happy, but the auto-tuned lyrics are nothing short of woeful, and it’s all far too poptastic to be remotely fantastic, like the tournament it stands for. Standing tall, seven billion stars, coming together, bla bla bla … (that last bit was mine, by the way) it’s just got no attacking impetus and fails to score. It probably only qualified as a result of some dodgy deals, and is found out horribly in the group stages. No wins, no draws, no points. Or should that just be, no point.

Ricky Martin

Given the time he spends in Australia as a judge on The Voice these days, Ricky Martin would have to be a Socceroos fan by now. His World Cup ditty is about the same level as Ange Postecoglou’s team: seemingly full of promise to the faithful, but unlikely to produce a long-lasting memory and short of impact to those that know better. It’s all happy and smiley, sunsets on Copacabana Beach in the video, everyone dancing around. He sings about us all coming together, raising our banners to the sky. It’s that same old story of togetherness that singers waffle on about when it comes to World Cup time. We get it, guys. Enough already. Write us something that will get us pumped for a game, not something we’d dance to on wobbly limbs in the dying embers of a wedding reception. You’ve done it before, Ricky. Cup Of Life was a belter in its time. A possible quarter-final contender, but only through a lucky break in a penalty shootout. From there, it’s all downhill. Sorry Ricky, but Go Socceroos, because Puerto Rico aint qualifying for a World Cup anytime soon.

Greatest Day
Gary Barlow and Gary Lineker

Former Take That frontman Gary Barlow has teamed up with former England captain Gary Lineker for this one, England’s official World Cup song. It’s a good “laff”, features players past and present, pop stars married/divorced from players (hello, Cheryl Cole, or is it Tweedy again now?), a couple of Spice Girls not married to players in Geri Halliwell and Mel C, and even England’s 1966 hero Sir Geoff Hurst, among others. The song was originally a Take That song, and doesn’t sound half bad, but it’s a bit of a sop-fest. It’s more useful for staring wistfully through rain-soaked windows than it is for getting the blood pumping for a World Cup game. It’s got a triumphant chorus, though, and England fans might get goosebumps when the commentary overlays come in. A classy semi-finalist maybe, but not up to a place in the final. All star power without the penetration. Sounds a bit familiar as an England fan.

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