The World Cup has been held since 1930, but FIFA, the international soccer governing body, did not officially adopt songs or anthems commemorating the quadrennial soccer tournament until 1990.
Some of the world’s most recognizable artists have lent their talents to the songs celebrating the World Cup, among them Jennifer Lopez, Youssou N’Dour, Vangelis, Carlos Santana, and Nicki Minaj.
In the case of Ricky Martin, his song for the 1998 World Cup in France, “Cup of Life (La Copa de la Vida),” became a career-changer. Martin partnered with Desmond Child and Draco Rosa to write and produce the song. It charted in the Billboard Hot 100 in 1998 and he turned heads with his performance of the song at the 41st annual Grammy Awards. (Martin, a one-time member of Menudo, is among the solo artists who were more successful than their bands.)
Shakira is no stranger to major athletic events; she and Lopez were the halftime show performers at Super Bowl LIV in 2020. In 2010, her exuberant “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” that featured Afro-fusion band Freshlyground, was the anthem for the World Cup in South Africa. The song has 3.3 billion views on YouTube to date. It peaked at No. 38 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on July 3, 2010 and has more than 603 million Spotify plays – more than twice as many as the next-highest song, which was “We Are One (Ole Ola)” by Pitbull featuring Jennifer Lopez and Claudia Leitte. (Here’s a roster of who performed at every Super Bowl’s halftime show.)
To determine the most popular World Cup songs, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on Spotify activity for all official FIFA World Cup songs and anthems. Official songs and anthems were ranked by total Spotify plays as of November 30, 2022. Spotify data for “Gloryland” by Daryl Hall, the official song for the 1994 World Cup – held in nine venues across the U.S. – was not available.
Five World Cup tournaments have had more than one song that celebrated the event. For the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, there are five songs.
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