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World Cup National Anthems: Ranked

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We’re right.

Portugal v Spain: Group B - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Atlanta United is off for a few days, and thank goodness because it gives us time to revert to our favorite pastime: Making lists that everyone agrees on.

Obviously, the best part of any World Cup is watching players and fans belt out their countries anthems before each match. Before the highs and lows of each World Cup slam into each team like a sledgehammer, there is simply music and hope. Unless you’re England.

Some of these anthems are better than others. Fortunately, we’ve taken the time to tell you — through a process that should not and cannot be questioned — where each of the 32 anthems rank based on their pre-soccer contest merit. (We’ve also added a popular song equivalent that we feel is most similar to each anthem).

As with any list I make, take it super seriously and complain about it to me on Twitter. I absolutely want to hear your opinions on the Serbian national anthem. I do this for the interaction with the fans, not because I enjoy writing dumb things. Remember, you can find me on Twitter @Paysoninho

Anything I say about your anthem is not an attack on your country, we’re just ranking some music on how it sounds when sung by thousands of fans and 11 World Class athletes praying they don’t mess up the words to a song that’s probably pretty silly and old with a camera five inches from their face. And as an American I’d like to point out that our anthem is just kinda ok musically. I’d put it like 20th this year to be honest. However, you know, we didn’t make the World Cup. Your anthem is better than mine just based on the fact you get to hear it at the World Cup this year. But if you do have complaints, remember, @Paysoninho.

Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you.

32. Morocco

The Legend of Zelda: The soundtrack: The ones where the regular orchestra was out that day: The national anthem

Popular song comparison:

31. Uruguay

I’m cackling. There’s nothing really wrong with it, it’s just kind of...fancy. It sounds like the overture to a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical and I can’t stop laughing at Edinson Cavani attempting to mean mug the theme to My Fair Lady

Popular song comparison:

30. Tunisia

It is an anthem.

Popular song comparison:

29. Panama

This was honestly the best video I could find of the anthem at a soccer match. At the end there’s tepid applause. They aren’t wrong.

Popular song comparison:

28. Switzerland

Bold strategy to try and lull the other team to sleep before the game, Switzerland.

Popular song comparison:

27. Costa Rica

It’s fine. It just doesn’t exactly do anything to distinguish itself from any other national anthem. There’s just not a lot to say about it other than it was kind of pleasant. It’s a Belle & Sebastian record.

Popular song comparison:

26. Japan

The most: “Shut up, we’re at a funeral.” of all the anthems.

Popular song comparison:

25. Senegal

Senegal’s anthem is unique in that it used to feature vocals that weren’t from a choir, but were from a single dude who sounds really happy to be there. That edition of the anthem is fun at first but slows and crawls to the finish line, a cardinal sin of antheming.

Unfortunately, they must have gotten rid of the vocals at some point and now it’s slower and more disinteresting than ever. Justice for Happy To Be There Dude, please.

Popular song comparison:

24. Serbia

It takes it’s sweet time but it’s interesting enough to put it past Costa Rica and non-coma-inducing enough to be well ahead of Switzerland.

Popular song comparison:

23. Australia

It’s fine. It’s pretty enough but it’s bland. You’d give it a second date but once they’ve mentioned their trip to St. Augustine they took three years ago you would realize it wasn’t worth it to stick around.

Where the ‘Roos really lose points though is not playing the country’s true anthem.

(Would pay obscene amounts of money to hear a crowd of 70,000 sing a song about something called a “swagman” drowning himself in a lake to avoid police and then coming back as a ghost to haunt the lake before every game. Everyone already considers it the national anthem anyway. Get your stuff together Australia.)

Popular song comparison:

22. Russia

The host country of this years tournament was not picked for their national anthem, they were picked for their incalculable human rights violations [alleged] bribes.

The anthem is slow and sounds like a b-side to a Les Miserables demo session.

Popular song comparison:

21. Belgium

Bonus points for a fast-paced, enjoyable anthem. Subtract more points for Marouane Fellaini. Anyone have a problem with that? No? Anyone? That’s what I thought.

Popular song comparison:

20. Saudi Arabia

Clocking in at about 30 seconds and pacey on the wings, this is basically the punk-rock version of a national anthem. The song is in and out like a flash though, and I respect Saudi Arabia’s choice to get on with it and not overstay their welcome.

Popular song comparison:

19. Iran

This one is clean, you’ve got to love the horns and you have to love that tempo keeping everyone on their toes. Not the best but easily not the worst and wait I think I might have gotten this confused with my list ranking The Might Mighty Bosstones’ records.

Popular song comparison:

18. Sweden

Switzerland’s anthem’s more excitable younger brother.

Popular song comparison:

17. Egypt

Like the actual Egyptian team it’s not the best, but it certainly has heart. Pitchfork isn’t naming it best new music anytime soon but you can see how someone would get behind it and belt it out when giving the chance.

Popular song comparison:

16. Nigeria

It’s a quality, passable anthem that ohmygod those warm ups ohmygod those kits how are all of them so cool they’re absolutely winning this entire damn tournament FLY SUPER EAGLES FLY NAIJA FOREVER SKWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA wait what were we doing here?

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15. England

Seems to focus a lot on one person and that kind of thing doesn’t win championships. America took the melody and made it a better song. I don’t know, kind of lucky it’s this high, tbh.

Popular song comparison:

14. South Korea

One of the prettiest pieces of music in the bunch. It’s missing that sweet, sweet crowd interaction though to send it higher. The feel becomes more classical music recital than the massive, emotional music festival crowd feel we’re looking for before a game.

Popular song comparison:

13. Spain

This is objectively good. It gets right to the meat of the song, the fans go crazy for it, it sounds pleasant and it exudes passion. However, the players freaking hate it. At least I’m guessing they do. While other anthems get belted out, the Spanish players stare vacantly into the crowd. There are obviously words. The fans are singing. But I couldn’t find a video of the players not looking like they’re watching their tenth Seinfeld episode in a row. It could be that they’re just concentrating on the upcoming match but I like to think that Iniesta wrote a song they swear is way better and they’re refusing to sing until “the real anthem is recognized, man.”

Popular song comparison:

12. Portugal

Portugal takes us on a little journey. We start off bright, get dark real quick before finally coming back with an emphatic moment at the end. Strangely, the song perfectly encapsulates the team’s performance against Spain. As far as the rankings go, the end doesn’t quite deliver the haymaker punch it feels like the song has been building to. It’s the only thing keeping it from being much higher.

Popular song comparison:

11. Croatia

It’s great but.....it’s not you, it’s me. I get what Croatia is going for and I like what they’re doing here, but it feels like it could be so much more. The song doesn’t seem to get out of its own way. As soon as we get up to 100 mph we inexplicably slam on the brakes and then repeat the pattern. I love the sound but other European countries do the “choir” sound much better. We’ll get to that.

Popular song comparison:

10. Poland

Very similar to Croatia in that it can’t seem to get out of it’s own way to become something truly special. You keep waiting for it take off but it stays grounded. That’s fine but it doesn’t take you to greatness which is disappointing. You can’t give just a little bit and then not expect a person to want more. If anyone should know about the problems with appeasement it should be Poland.

Popular song comparison:

9. Mexico

I felt like I was playing Super Smash Bros. but in the best possible way. It feels quick and it’s fun. I liked it. Landon Donovan wants you to know he liked it way more.*

*this anthem description is sponsored by Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo: “We’ll go far..... and also we’re sorry for gambling with your money. Our bad.”

Popular song comparison:

8. Peru

It’s not anything special melody wise but what puts it over the top is the fact that in a every video Peru’s fans and players SING THIS SONG LIKE IT IS THEIR FINAL MESSAGE TO THE WORLD AND IT GETS ME FIRED UP.

Congrats to Peru on being Japandroids.

Popular song comparison:

7. Denmark

Denmark takes a big risk with each anthem but it always pays off. They probably have the best gimmick of any of these songs. About a quarter of the way in the music behind the anthem practically cuts out and they do the rest of the dang thing nearly acapella and it’s glorious. The melody is far from amazing (and honestly kind of gets muddled by the crowd) but Denmark has the audacity before every match to let you know they do in fact have the range and that has to be intimidating for the other team.

Popular song comparison:

6. Argentina

It starts off with a few slow-building notes that make you think the song is about to crescendo into something amazing. Then it falls off a cliff. It’s kind of mess. But just when you’re about to count out the song entirely.....IT PICKS BACK UP INTO ONE OF THE BEST AND MOST HYPE ANTHEM ENDINGS IN THE WORLD. The Argentina fans losing their minds as the song builds to the end makes a clunky middle section all worthwhile.

Popular song comparison:

5. Germany

Admittedly, I had low expectations going into this and fully expected their anthem to just be a Kraftwerk song but Germany gets the job done here as efficiently as ever. Honestly, it’s good. It crescendos nicely as any great anthem should and the music is great. I don’t know why I’m so surprised but this is one of the best of the bunch.

Popular song comparison:

4. Colombia

THIS IS THE KIND OF ENERGY I’M LOOKING FOR BEFORE A MATCH. THE SNARE GOES HARD. WE NEVER STOP MOVING. THE FANS NEVER STOP SHOUT/SINGING. ELITE. ANTHEM. VIBES.

Popular song comparison:

3. Brazil

Brazil combines the best of both Peru’s and Denmark’s anthem. Not only do you have the crowd and players shouting every word with no regard for melody, but they drop the mic at the end with an acapella stadium-wide shout-a-long. It’s like Death Grips, meets Pusha, meets B-Rabbit’s final diss on Papa Doc in the 8-mile rap battles but in South American big band anthem form. What’s especially fun in the videos from the 2014 World Cup you can tell those poor people have no idea what’s about to happen to them in a couple of rounds. It’s like watching Fergie warming up to sing the national anthem before the NBA all-star game.......Ok, maybe fun wasn’t the right word.

Popular song comparison:

2. Iceland

Genuinely incredible. It’s gorgeous. I have chills. I didn’t want it to end. I’m Icelandic now. We’re all Icelandic now. We always have been. Welcome brothers and sisters and fellow humans to a little something called humanity. Welcome to Iceland. Welcome home.

Popular song comparison:

1. France

THE GOAT. IT MAKES ME FEEL LIKE I CAN RUN THROUGH A BRICK WALL EVERY TIME. HOW DOES FRANCE EVER LOSE???

From the famous opening, the gorgeous change in mood in the middle that leads right into that stunning ending. It’s perfect. Nothing in the world is better. I’m right.

Popular song comparison: