[MUSIC WATCH] Have you ever watched a brilliant ad or segment on television and been blown away by the accompanying music, only to find that there is no mention of the artist or song name your heart so greatly desires?
I tend to have this problem every four years when the World Cup rolls around because there are so many "Official" and "Unofficial" theme songs that it's hard to keep track.
Below is a list that encompasses sanctioned and unsanctioned songs by notable artists that have been featured on television or gone viral on the Internet.
The best and worst themes of the 2010 World Cup are rated on a 5-point scale. The songs are judged on a combination of their originality, topicality, and wow factor.
Shakira – “Waka Waka”
Rating: 1 out of 5
Why is a Colombian woman singing FIFA’s “official” theme song and telling me “Waka Waka, This time for Africa!” In the video she appears in quasi black-face and does some sort of African Tribal dance with a bunch of guys with spears. Is it just me or is Shakira setting the standard for racial insensitivity? Throw in the fact that “Waka Waka” means “Do It” in Fang, which is a language commonly spoken in Cameroon, and it makes you wonder what in the world she was thinking. Last time I checked the World Cup was in South Africa, not in Cameroon! Thankfully I’m not the only one who has raised the issue, as many South Africans are appalled by the video's offensive material and the overarching message that “all Africans are all the same."
Weezer – “Represent”
Rating: 2 out of 5
Weezer’s “Represent” is a pretty ordinary sounding track. For a person who claims to be a soccer fanatic, you would think lead singer Rivers Cuomo could come up with some more original content for his lyrics. It’s worth a listen but I don’t know if I would fork over the 99 cents to buy it off iTunes.
U2 – “City of Blinding Lights”
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Not surprisingly, U2 struck a deal with ESPN to feature their music in the network’s World Cup ad campaign. The only problem is that the song they chose to feature, “City of Blinding Lightings,” is the same song that ESPN ran with their ads during the 2006 World Cup. It’s actually a pretty good song, the only problem is that it got stale four years ago in Berlin. I’m also pretty tired of U2 doing a theme song for every single major event known to man. I get that Bono is super into giving away his money and saving African children from poverty, but Ireland didn’t even qualify for the World Cup. He should have taken a cue from his countrymen and sat this one out.
For video, click HERE
R. Kelly – “Sign of a Victory”
Rating: 3 out of 5
Upon hearing that R. Kelly had jumped on the World Cup theme bandwagon, I was mortified. However, I figured I would reserve judgment until after I had given the track a listen. I was pleasantly surprised by the catchiness of the tune, and for some reason I couldn’t stop listening to it. Yes it’s cheesy, yes it’s generic, but it makes me smile when I hear it. I suppose that has to count for something.
Clint Dempsey – “Don’t Tread”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
It wouldn’t be fair to judge Dempsey on the same scale as the other “professional” musicians on this list, but sadly his song is considerably better than a number of the other ones on here. Dempsey’s jump into the rap game was another one of my “oh no” moments, until I actually gave the song a chance. To his credit, his vocal delivery is clean, and instead of making the typical rap video that showcases the excess of a glamorous lifestyle, he chose to feature the mean streets of Texas where he honed his soccer skills. Something about the chorus and the historic meaning of the term “Don’t Tread on Me” (used on early American Revolution flags) just gets me pumped. I also love that Dempsey is taking a not so subtle jab at the Brits.
Akon – “Oh Africa”
Rating: 4 out of 5
Akon might win the award for most generic lyrics ever written for this song, but, considering he is Senegalese, at least it makes sense why he would write a song called “Oh Africa.” His music video employs some really cool special effects, and he also gets a boost in street cred for having Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres cameos.
Gnarls Barkley – “Going On”
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
This song wasn’t written specifically for the World Cup, but the folks over at the Puma advertising department sure did a good job convincing us otherwise. Gnarls Barkley’s 2008 single “Going On” provided the perfect accompaniment to the inspiring ad campaign that revolved around an African jersey of unification. Although Nike’s “Write the Future” ad is breathtaking, it’s nice to see an ad campaign that features real Africans and their genuine excitement to be hosting a World Cup.
K'Naan – “Waving Flag”
Rating: 5 out of 5
Simply put, this might be the greatest World Cup theme ever. I know that’s a bold statement, but can you think of an artist that has gone from relative obscurity to superstardom on the strength of a World Cup anthem? I can’t. It also helps that K’Naan believes the lyrics he is singing. He is from Mogadishu, one of the most war-torn cities on the planet. When I hear this song I think of how Nelson Mandela championed the fight against apartheid. I think about how Didier Drogba used his influence as an athlete to stop a war in his native Ivory Coast, if only for the duration of the 2006 World Cup. “Waving Flag” is more than a mere soccer anthem, it is a sincere cry of hope for an entire continent, from a man who has experienced the horrors of war firsthand. No World Cup song has ever carried a more powerful message.
For video click HERE.