“National Anthems”, some are great and deeply moving, some are alright, but not really interesting, and most are simply dreadful. Banal words set to lousy, dreary “music”.
I was listening to what may well be the best national anthem ever conceived the other day and fell to wondering why so many were so bad. I have listened to dozens, read loads of more or less learned verbiage on the topic, but am not really any the wiser, except to note that both the words and music of most national anthems are put together very much on the cheap by people who have no obvious skills either as composers or as writers. This may be the simple reason.
So I thought I would have a serious look at some of them here, and play them to you to see what your thoughts on them might be. I shall start with ones that I consider to fall into the category of Great National Anthems, then have a look at a few that could be described as Acceptable National Anthems, and then, taking my courage in my hands, have a look at a few that come under the heading of God-Awful National Anthems.
Should be fun.
Great National Anthems:
As far as I am concerned, the South African National Anthem has to be the best, most emotionally powerful and uniting one. Conceived during South Africa’s dark days of Apartheid it brings together all the main language groups of that country, in a song that is both powerful, emotional and of course, patriotic in an acceptable manner. I will give you two versions of it, one recorded in a nearby country before the end of apartheid and the second at a rugby match once it had become the official anthem for South Africa. I think that both versions, in their differing ways, show what a national anthem should be remarkably well. Musically enjoyable, and also I believe the words are reasonable too, so here goes….. N’Kosi Sikeleli.
Now that is what I call one hell of a powerful national anthem!!!
That was recorded in Zambia, when it was obviously not possible to sing that song publically in South Africa, and now for the current version, but note how it still is able to invoke true emotion…