I normally wake to Radio 5 Live news each morning. The volume is set to maximum to ensure a response. Imagine my surprise earlier this week when I awoke to a rather good, very loud, rendition of the Russian National Anthem. All was explained a while later when it was clear that normal programming had been replaced by a Rugby World Cup match between Russia and Scotland. Thankfully Scotland won 61-0.
Russia may be crap at rugby, and drug-cheating baa-lambs at most other sports. But you can’t deny the brilliance of their National Anthem. Some versions give me goosebumps. I’m not keen on Scotland’s Anthem really but it is infinitely better than the official UK National Anthem.
I’ll be upfront about it: I haven’t listened to every country’s National Anthem and objectively ranked them. But if they’ve won a gold medal at an Olympics I’ve probably heard their song. And I’ve taken some hints from sad people who have listened to the lot. With the possible exception of Liechtenstein, I’ve come to the conclusion our God Save The Queen is the worst of the lot. It’s not even about the UK; it’s a toast to an undemocratic birthright leader that once contained a line about an Irishman crushing rebellious Scots. The music is a tedious dirge better suited to a funeral. I would hazard a guess that half the population could not recite the first verse correctly, and 99% could not tell you the content of any other verse, assuming they knew there were other verses. I’d struggle myself on the first verse and have instantly forgotten any hint of those other verses even though I researched them for this post 5 minutes ago. It is the most forgettable anthem as well as the worst. I know no-one that is proud of and loves either words or tune. I don’t recall once in over 50 years when I’ve had the least desire to stand and sing it but am very envious of foreigners with a song to get passionate about. It has to go, relegated to Royal Anthem as it has been elsewhere in the world. At least Liechtenstein’s anthem is about the country.
My Top 10:
- Russia. Stirring. Goosebumps, suits huge youth choirs.
- France. Don’t know the translation but the music tells me a story.
- New Zealand. Simple and sweet with some odd lyrics that don’t always fit the music. Sing it around a campfire accompanied by a guitar.
- Australia. An optimistic young and free modern anthem that grows on you.
- South Africa. Symbolic of the demise of apartheid.
- Wales. Beautiful. The best version was the old HTV Wales closedown music.
- Italy. Bonkers intro but worthy of the home of great opera. Fantastic finale.
- Chile. A cross between a circus parade and beer hall drinking song.
- Ireland (Ireland’s Call). Symbolic foot tapper played when the united Irish rugby team take to the field. Quite like the Irish Republic’s tune too
- Senegal. Reminiscent of a 1950’s film score. No idea how you sing to it.
So what do we replace the dirge with? Jerusalem is for the English only, and we should have our own for when we compete in sports events as England. For the UK it has to be Land of Hope and Glory. I can see a time when we’re all proudly belting that one out in a way we can never do with the royal toast song. But let’s not do a Referendum and split the country 48%-52% between Land of Hope and Glory and the Birdie McBirdface Song.