World Cup Songs

Shakira performs during the closing ceremony in South Africa

Get ready to party in Brazil

There are many things about the host country that gives each World Cup its own identity and colour, and music is an important ingredient during the festival of football.

That is certainly the case in Brazil, where street parties pump out the sound of the Bahian 'Samba de Roda' or Rio de Janeiro's 'carioca' - rhythms which are now set to become as familiar to football fans as the sound of the vuvuzela was to supporters in South Africa.

But the history of the official World Cup song - first introduced in 1962 - shows us that the host nation's cultural heritage does not always determine the choice of song nor the choice of singer.

The first official World Cup song

The honour of producing the first official song went to jazz-rockers Los Ramblers with their up-tempo song 'El Rock del Mundial', which extolled the virtues of Chilean football while inviting visiting teams to "demonstrate good humour" like their hosts.

The record sold 80,000 copies in the year of its release and more than two million have been sold to date. Los Ramblers are still performing together today, making them the South American equivalent of the Rolling Stones.

When England hosted the tournament in 1966 Lonnie Donegan was chosen to sing the official song entitled 'World Cup Willie (Where In This World Are We Going?)' which was a wistful tribute to the first official World Cup mascot.

Mexico did not produce an official song for the 1970 World Cup but the tournament returned there in 1986, and Stephanie Lawrence provided the English-language tune 'A Special Kind of Hero'.

The 1974 World Cup, held in West Germany, had provided the only song in Polish to date - 'Futbol' - and soul singer Maryla Rodowicz belted it out at the opening ceremony in Munich.

The classical era

Four years later Argentina were responsible for the first classical offering. Entitled 'El Mundial', the Buenos Aires Municipal Symphony's marching band lent a somewhat sombre interpretation to Ennio Morricone's composition.

'Mundial '82' celebrated the sunshine of the Spanish summer as Madrid tenor Placido Domingo invited the greatest players in the world to enjoy a festival of football.

At the 1990 World Cup in Italy another famous tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, might have been expected to sing a prelude to his country's second hosting of the tournament but instead it was Edoardo Bennato and Gianna Nannini with their song 'Un'estate italiana (To Be Number One)'.

The song, also known as 'Notti Magiche' or 'Magical Nights' in Italy, was the best-selling single in Italy between January and September of 1990 and was performed live by Bennato and Nannini during the opening ceremony in Milan.

Pop stars take over

There was a noticeable change in tone for the USA World Cup in 1994 as pop star Daryl Hall devised a patriotic rendition of 'Gloryland' alongside Sounds of Blackness.

Puerto Rican Ricky Martin added some Hispanic flair to World Cup 1998 in France with his high-tempo carnival anthem 'La Copa de la Vida (The Cup of Life)', which topped the charts for six weeks in Australia, France and Sweden.

Japan and South Korea then recruited Anastacia to sing 'Boom' in 2002 whereas Germany in 2006 chose 'The Time of Our Lives' sung by operatic group Il Divo and R&B icon Toni Braxton.

The choice of Colombian songstress Shakira to sing South Africa's official song 'Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)' in 2010 inspired mild controversy on the continent, with criticism from some people who suggested an African group should have provided the musical backdrop.

But the uplifting dance number - which has sold four million copies worldwide - certainly captured the vitality and energy of the host nation. Brazil's contribution, when it is announced, is certain to make a similar impact.