World Cup fever kicked off with yesterday’s opener, but fans have long been ramping up to Russia 2018 thanks in no small part to the music. Songs like the Nicky Jam, Will Smith, Diplo, and Era Istrefi collab ”Live it Up” or the Jason Derulo and Maluma joint “Colors” are probably already on your radar, but this year’s musical selections have given us a hunger for more, so we dug a little deeper into the history of World Cup songs.
While World Cup songs have been a tradition since the 60s, it wasn’t until the 90s – when big pop stars started to get involved – that the music started to have a mainstream impact. Ever since then, Latino artists have been commissioned for tons of official songs, and they’re typically the best ones. It’s a no-brainer when you think about it; Latinos are some of the most engaged and passionate fans of futbol. The Hollywood Reporter writes that approximately 3.4 billion viewers will tune in to the World Cup, with the biggest audience in Latin America.
Over the years, FIFA has typically commissioned two official tracks, an “anthem” and a “song.” To add to the confusion, Coca-Cola – one of the biggest corporate advertisers of the event – provides its own anthem, while individual countries and broadcasting networks may also produce their own singles for the tournament.
In this list, you’ll find five of our favorite songs and anthems, as well as a bonus track that wasn’t officially FIFA-approved, but we couldn’t keep off the list. We’re recognizing our favorite songs by Latino artists, with one track from Spanish-born, Mexico-raised opera singer Plácido Domingo. Check out our picks below.
Honorable Mention: Wisin ft. Jennifer Lopez & Ricky Martin - Adrenalina (Brazil 2014)
“Adrenalina” was already a big hit when Univision adopted it as their official anthem for their coverage. It’s not an official song or anthem, but it goes so hard that it’s impossible to resist. Four years later, we’re still trying to get it out of our heads.
Los Hermanos Zavala - ”México 70” (México 1970)
This Roberto Do Nascimento-penned track, performed by the 12-sibling Mexican band Los Hermanos Zavala, might seem like the most outdated thing ever to your trap-loving ears. Yet “México 70” has some of the trademarks that most official songs and anthems still use, like mashing up different styles into one. Here, you can hear mariachi, rancheras, bossa nova, and samba.
Plácido Domingo - “El Mundial” (Spain 1982)
Back when multinational corporations and multiplatinum pop artists had nothing to do with the World Cup, you only needed the biggest opera singer in the world to get the crowds going. This paso doble banger from Spanish-born, Mexico-raised Plácido Domingo still goes when you’re in the mood.
Los Ramblers - “El Rock Del Mundial” (Chile 1962)
The first official track to be written for and used throughout a World Cup, “El Rock del Mundial” proved to be historic for several reasons. Los Ramblers had been around since rock was first consolidated in the 1950s, but it was the band’s first big hit, and opened the door for rock music in the country. Though FIFA doesn’t recognize “El Rock del Mundial” as the first official song, its impact in popular culture cannot be understated.
Shakira ft. Freshlyground - “Waka Waka (Esto Es Africa)” (South Africa 2010)
Undoubtedly one of the most iconic songs in World Cup history, Shakira’s “Waka Waka” caused some controversy for its references to “Zangaléwa,” a song by Cameroonian band Golden Sounds – some thought was an act of plagiarism.
Ricky Martin - La Copa De La Vida” (France 1998)
Was there ever going to be another candidate for no. 1 World Cup song? “La Copa De La Vida” sealed Ricky Martin’s fate as a major pop star. With his performance of the song at the 1999 Grammys, he rocketed to superstardom. “Livin’ La Vida Loca” and the so-called “Latin boom” of the late 90s was within hands’ reach.