World Cup inspires global music surge

Originally Published: June 10, 2010
By Matthew Glenesk | Special to ESPN.com

By now you've probably heard Shakira's or K'Naan's songs promoting the World Cup, and if you haven't, you'll be humming them by month's end.

But the World Cup is the globe's largest spectacle, so naturally two songs just won't do. We've scoured the Web to provide you with 11 songs to vote on, leaving it to you to pick which song (official or unofficial) is the best.

But in reality, does it really matter who wins? The only important thing is that it drowns out the awful vuvuzelas. Unless of course you're into that hornet-swarming sound the South African noisemakers create for 90 minutes.

Song title: "Waka Waka"
Artist: Shakira
Country: Not applicable
Breakdown: Chosen as FIFA's official World Cup song, "Waka Waka" has created a bit of controversy. First, some South Africans are upset the theme for their World Cup isn't being sung by a South African (Shakira is Colombian). Then there's the issue with the song's creators, a pop group composed of Cameroonian presidential guards, who created the song in 1986 to boost troop morale. They claim they were never asked if Shakira could use the song. The two sides have since come to a financial agreement. Jeez, all this stink over a World Cup song? Just wait until we get to England's song situation …

Song title: "Wavin' Flag"
Artist: K'Naan with David Bisbal
Country: Not applicable
Breakdown: K'Naan's tracks should already be recognizable to sports-going video gamers. His song "ABC's" featured in EA Sports' "Madden NFL 09"; "Soobax" landed on the "FIFA 06" soundtrack; and a song originally released in March 2009, "Wavin' Flag," played to "NBA 2K10" fans. Now, a remixed version of "Wavin' Flag (The Celebration Mix)" is Coca-Cola's official theme song for the 2010 World Cup. Shortly after its release, it shot to No. 1 on the charts in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Apparently, flag waving is big in Bavaria. It's definitely catchy, and was recorded in a number of different languages. In the linked version, the Somali-born and Toronto-raised K'Naan gets assistance from Spanish pop star David Bisbal.

Shakira
AP Photo/Yves LoggheShakira's "Waka Waka" is the official theme of the World Cup.

Song title: "Fabio's Song"
Artist: The Competition
Country: England
Breakdown: A year ago, manager Fabio Capello banned the use of an official song for the English national team. That's right, "No song for you!" This year's World Cup will mark the first since 1970 that England hasn't brought with it a new song. But that certainly didn't stop the Three Lions' faithful from inundating the world with unofficial English jams. In fact, our first English entry is an ode to the man who implemented the ban. Rapping, seemingly with a lisp, is a bespectacled Englishman from Torquay named Sillian. Oh, and in pure Lil Wayne style, it's heavy on the auto-tuner. Nice.

Song title: "Stand As One"
Artist: Martin PK
Country: South Africa
Breakdown: I mentioned earlier that some South Africans were a bit bummed a local didn't tackle the Cup's official song, so South African musician Martin PK took up the cause and came up with this ditty. Not so sure about this hook: "Soccer satisfaction/Hear the crowd's reaction/Big like Michael Jackson." But hey, it's local.

Song title: "The World Cup's Waiting For You"
Artist: The Skatoons
Country: England
Breakdown: "The Life" editor Jim Wilkie calls this ska-gone-bad song a "brainworm." He's on the right track. This song is more like a brain-superslug. Once it gets in there, there's no getting it out. It's in there for life and you know it will hatch millions of resonating babies. Sheerly awful. Sorry, in advance.

Song title: "Wayne Rooney"
Artist: Unknown
Country: England
Breakdown: Set to the tune of The Beatles' "Let It Be," this homage shows just how devoted English fans get over their footy stars. "So he's no oil painting, not like Johnny Depp or George Clooney. We don't care -- we love him, Wayne Rooney … " It's been around for a few years, but Rooney is fresh off a 34-goal haul at Manchester United this season and carries the hopes of England on his broad shoulders. He deserves a genius ode like this.

Song title: "USA!!!"
Artist: Frank Morrison
Country: United States
Breakdown: Seriously, I'd almost rather have Kobe Bryant put out a U.S. Soccer rap than claim whatever this is. Someone in media relations, please give Jay-Z a call. He's busy? OK, then get me Randy Newman! Anybody! In 2006, Nike and Clint Dempsey collaborated for "Don't Tread On This." Why nothing in 2010? Why!?

Song title: "Cry Out"
Artist: Delle
Country: Germany
Breakdown: Apparently, this is the Germans' unofficial song heading to South Africa -- though I'm pretty sure the set of the music video is far from the Bavarian countryside I remember Julie Andrews prancing through. The song is best described as German-English reggae. And I picked up almost every other word, but it works.

[+] EnlargeSuper Junior
AP Photo/Lai Seng SinSuper Junior have enough band members to form their own soccer team, with substitutes.

Song title: "Victory Korea"
Artist: Super Junior
Country: North and South Korea
Breakdown: The 2010 World Cup marks the first time that both North and South Korea have qualified for the same World Cup since separating in 1948. In fact, this is North Korea's first appearance at a World Cup since its quarterfinal run in 1966. So in promoting a Korean heavy impact in South Africa, South Korean boy band Super Junior, or simply SuJu, came out with a unifying Korean anthem for the upcoming World Cup. And in case you were wondering why they're called Super Junior, they have 13 members, making them one of the largest boy bands in the world. And now you know. "Victory Korea" will also advance the upcoming film "Dreams Come True," which is about North and South Korean soldiers uniting through soccer.

Song title: "Catch The Spirit"
Artist: Rumbar Girls
Country: Not applicable
Breakdown: And what would the world's greatest spectacle be without some good old-fashioned piggyback capitalism. Hmm, let me see here. We've got liquor and girls dancing. Sounds soccer related to me. Stroh, an Austrian rum company, has launched the Rumbar Girls to entice soccer fans to "Catch The Spirit" for this year's World Cup. It's definitely not nation-specific, so it's a party for everyone!

Song title: "Oh Africa"
Artist: Akon
Country: Not applicable
Breakdown: Coca-Cola chose a track from K'Naan, so Pepsi countered with Akon. What's next? RC Cola reaching out to Raekwon? Akon, a Senegalese-American, is a huge soccer fan, having thrown lavish parties frequented by Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba and French forwards Nicolas Anelka and Djibril Cisse. Drogba makes an appearance along with other international stars in Akon's "Oh Africa" Pepsi commercial. However, this might be the closest Drogba will get to the World Cup after suffering a broken arm last week. With Drogba's injury, I doubt Brazil and Argentina fans were laughing during the video when Kaka slips into a meerkat hole and Lionel Messi runs into a tree branch.

Matthew Glenesk is a freelance writer based in Indianapolis.

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