Does it matter what music is played around the stadium when a goal is scored? To answer that question let me revisit a particularly grim time during the pandemic when Liverpool FC were playing in empty stadiums and their goals were followed not by the famed Anfield roar but a blast of Song 2 by Blur. It was loud, it was raucous, and it had nothing to do with the club whatsoever, serving only to highlight the detached, sterile surroundings life was suddenly taking place in.
To some of us traditionalists, goal music should be banned. If you want to turn this into ice hockey, at least let the players have mass brawls on the pitch. But Fifa know better, of course, and they’re clearly not satisfied with the mere sound of a crowd going wild. Instead, they’ve asked each of the 32 competing nations to provide a song to be pumped around the arena any time they score. Some teams, including England and Wales, have picked two, a bit like having an away kit in case their opposing team have chosen the same song.
But which is the best tune? More importantly, which provides the necessary adrenaline rush while also inflicting further psychological pain upon the conceders? As some teams haven’t even played yet, let alone scored, the only way to work this out is to rank them in the most scientific way possible: me listening to them once while imagining that I have just scored a goal for said country at the World Cup final.
40. When We Stand Together – Nickelback (Germany)
It’s hard to imagine the office somewhere in Germany where someone uttered the words: “I know what we need for our 2022 World Cup goal celebrations: a 10-year-old song by that Canadian rock band everyone hates.” But apparently it happened.
39. 30,000 Feet – NorthSideBenji & DJ Charlie B (Canada)
Canada had an astonishing 22 shots against Belgium in their opening game yet failed to score with any of them. Could the lack of dynamism conjured up here by the Toronto rapper and his compatriot DJ be to blame? (No, but play along with me here.)
38. On My Mind – Powderfinger (Australia)
I’m not sure why Australia have bothered picking a reserve song as surely no other team are going to go with Men at Work’s Down Under? Anyway, the thought of this horrendous rock nonsense being inflicted on 60,000 people would sorely tempt me to sky the ball several feet over the bar.
37. Vamos Com Tudo – David Carreira (Portugal)
The man I’m dubbing the Portuguese Peter Andre actually used to be a junior football player until a knee injury set him back. I’m telling you this boring fact because it is still more interesting than this song.
36. A Minha Casinha – Xutos & Pontapés (Portugal)
A decades-old rock cover version of a song from a 1943 Portuguese comedy film … I mean, I know this is a tough gig but is this really the best the Portuguese Football Federation could come up with?
35. Re-Sepp-Ten – VM Holdet (Denmark)
Slap bass and Pet Shop Boys synths … this was written in 1986 for the Danish team’s Mexico World Cup sojourn, and you can tell. Pleasant as a World Cup anthem, perhaps, but pretty underwhelming when I play it in my fantasy of getting on the end of a Christian Eriksen cross.
34. Užičko Kolo – Svetozar Gongo (Serbia)
The Serbian trumpeter’s effort has the swift pace of a tricky winger … but also a slight tinge of the Benny Hill theme. I can’t help thinking it will render any goals scored somewhat farcical.
33. Mi Gran Noche – Raphael (Spain)
A slice of Latin pop from 1967, this was presumably blasted out seven times during Spain’s opening demolition of Costa Rica – which is quite amusing as it sounds like utterly unsuitable goal music.
32. Down Under – Men at Work (Australia)
One of several instances of literalism on this list, which betrays a lack of deep tactical thinking. Call me a purist but no player should ever be made to celebrate to the sound of a flute riff.
31. El Otro Gol – Gandhi (Costa Rica)
It’s hard to work out which segment of this shapeshifting song Costa Rica intend to play. The a cappella intro? The mid-paced reggae-rock song? The guitar solo over crowd noises? Given they got pasted 7-0 in their opening game against Spain, we may never find out.
30. The Shouts of Reds – TransFixion (South Korea)
Again I must ask: which bit is supposed to be the goal bit? The bombastic choir singing over stadium metal drums? The bit where it suddenly turns into Green Day? Or the bit after that, where it sounds like nursery school kids covering Rage Against the Machine? Whichever way, it’s a hard pass from me.
29. Song 2 – Blur (France)
Even less appropriate than it was for Liverpool, the world champions will be banging them in to the least Gallic music imaginable. Despite the undeniable energy it brings, Blur’s indie thrasher has an air of forced jollity to it.
28. Ecuador, Si Se Puede – Damiano (Ecuador)
It seems strange to me that there is a ready-made 90s dancefloor banger out there called, literally, Ecuador – and the country have instead gone for some old geezer on a classical guitar crooning melodically.
27. Cumbia Pa` la Selección – De La Planta (Uruguay)
Too many of these songs suffer from a sluggish pace. You’re soundtracking a World Cup goal, lads, not the semi final of The X Factor!
26. Sidi Mansour – Saber Rebai (Tunisia)
The Tunisian singer popularised this folk classic 20 years ago and helped it reach the giddy heights it now enjoys today: not getting played at all during a 0-0 against Denmark
25. Srce Vatreno – Marko Lasić-Nered (Croatia)
Marko seems to think he’s entered Eurovision with this lighters-in-the-air piano ballad effort, though he gains extra marks for making it sound like it’s performed by a bunch of drunken squaddies. The rap bit in the middle is best not discussed.
24. Svijet Voli Pobjednike – Colonia (Croatia)
Thumping synthy dance music – a bit like if Fat Les’s Vindaloo went to the worst club it could find on an 18-30s holiday. Tries to go melodic for the chorus, which somehow makes things worse.
23. Luz Delito – Wos (Argentina)
Argentinian rock-rap with shades of Sabotage by the Beastie Boys. Slightly weakened by the fact that after they must have played this song after scoring against Saudi Arabia, then proceeded to concede two in one of the biggest World Cup upsets of all time.
22. DevilTime – MC Devil (Belgium)
Essentially MC Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This repurposed as a Eurodance banger. The mysterious MC Devil only seems to have written one song in his/her lifetime: it’s an absolutely terrible one to boot, but I can’t deny it might provide quite a rush to hear it after nodding in a last-minute winner.
21. Kernkraft 400 – Zombie Nation (Wales)
A song whose suitability relies entirely on whether Gareth Bale is prepared to attempt the Peter Crouch robot dance.
20. Feel So Good – Mase (USA)
This track feels like it needs a bit of swagger from the player involved for it to really work, maybe even a little dance routine, which will of course render the whole thing even more ridiculous when said goal gets ruled out by VAR.
19. Olé Olé – Los Ajenos (Costa Rica)
Galloping Latin ska with horns that build to an impressive party climax. Replacing their other goal song with this option is surely all it will take to turn around Costa Rica’s dire fortunes.
18. Iran1400 – HM (Iran)
I’m concocting a theory that we only let in a couple of goals against Iran so the world could be introduced to Persian hip-hop.
17. Rasta – Preko Sveta (Serbia)
Balkan reggaeton, you say? Well my Spotify algorithm will certainly be interesting after today’s listening. As for whether I’d want to hear this after finding the top corner from just outside the box? I’ll level with you, I’ve absolutely no idea.
16. This Is Wales – The Barry Horns (Wales)
A brass band made up of Welsh football fans – they should really use this one instead of Zombie Nation, given that there’s not much other use for a horn-powered dance number that mentions Aberystwyth.
15. Muhammed – Adnan Doğru (Tunisia)
You know, I can imagine a team building on this stirring, drum-laden devotional song, even if the only version I can find online seems to reference Algeria, the Tunisian team’s fiercest football rivals.
14. Samba de Janeiro – Bellini (Netherlands)
An unstoppable if somewhat overplayed choice here. Ticks the “sporty” and “euphoric” boxes but loses points for the fact there are few places that feel less samba than the Netherlands.
13. Esquentando O Couro – Escola de Samba (Brazil)
Essentially just a barrage of carnival drums. Extremely Brazilian and, fair play, would absolutely do the opponent’s nut in.
12. Syori No Emi Wo Kimi To – Ukasuka (Japan)
Bombastic indie from J-pop’s answer to the Killers, this builds to a climax so relentlessly silly that, by the six minute mark, you are somehow won over.
11. Mbandjoh – Les Rythmeurs ABC (Cameroon)
This riotous song in homage to the African nation could work, providing they go with the uplifting bit at the end where someone whips out what sounds like an accordion.
10. Idol – BTS (South Korea)
The chorus is reminiscent of every 90s club hit rolled into one, and for that reason means the supermassive boyband have a reliable goal anthem.
9. Freed From Desire – Gala (England, Poland, Switzerland)
A whopping three countries all picked this for their goal tune, which is strange given that it’s clearly the soundtrack to being sick on the waltzers after downing a litre bottle of White Lightning in the park.
8. Allez Allez Maroc – Hamid Bouchnak (Morocco)
Football-themed lyrics, laser-guided synths and raucous crowd noise effects transform this traditional Moroccan folk song into something that is A) completely abysmal and B) probably quite perfect when you’ve just scored in injury time.
7. La Negra – La Hija Del Mariachi (Mexico)
Who can resist the sound of mariachi, the music of 18th-century Mexican countryside that always, surely, had one eye on being performed at the Qatar 2022 World Cup. Against all odds, this makes a sort of sense if you imagine it being sung in the same determined manner of El Cant del Barça.
6. Love Tonight – Shouse (Netherlands)
This moody dance number is a TikTok banger and, while the choir provides the uplift, the minor key element will remind any potential scorers to stay focused on the task in hand (a theory I have, admittedly, just made up on the spot).
5. Bałkanica – Piersi (Poland)
Look, by the time I played this I’d already heard 40-odd World Cup goal songs and my brain was scrambled. Still, it sounds completely bonkers to me. I had it down as the booziest sounding tune of the lot and that was before the dubstep breakdown.
4. Going Bad – Meek Mill ft Drake (Canada)
The spooky piano line creates an intimidating atmosphere that could put the wind up the opponent – even more impressive when you consider that Meek Mill and Drake probably didn’t write it to accompany Reading’s Junior Hoilett arriving late at the far post.
3. Al Saudia – Rashed Al Majed (Saudi Arabia)
With Qatar’s own song apparently not announced, this Saudi singer brings the required Middle Eastern flavour to the World Cup. Released in 1998, it features a droning instrument (I’m guessing a habbān) that would get under any opponent’s skin.
2. Oofeetsɔ – Sarkodie (Ghana)
The Ghanian rapper brings the party here. A suitably funky, full-team synchronised dance is de rigueur to go with this one.
1. One Kiss – Dua Lipa (England)
Slinky, stylish, almost as if written specifically for Jack Grealish to flick England’s fourth into the net during a demolition of Brazil while continuing his run and performing a backflip to the beat. Maybe we should save this reserve tune for the final, eh lads?