fri 30/09/2016

The best and worst national anthems? Time to award the medals | Classical music reviews, news & interviews

The best and worst national anthems? Time to award the medals

The tunes that inspire gold, and those that limp home. Do you agree?

The sound of gold: scullers Kath Grainger and Anna Watkins on their new Royal Mail stamp

The onerous task of recording all 205 national anthems for playing at the Olympics medal ceremonies has fallen on the London Philharmonic Orchestra. An edited group of 36 players has recorded the anthems at the Abbey Road Studios in 60 gruelling recording hours over six days. But which would try their patience most?

The anthems - every one known in the world, good, bad and indifferent - have been arranged by British composer and cellist Phillip Sheppard, who did the British anthem arrangement for the Beijing Olympics closing ceremony. Judging from a selection below, he would be giving the LPO trumpets plenty to do.

Sebastian Coe, chair of the London 2012, and a former multiple gold-medallist as a runner, described the emotional impact  of hearing his national anthem as he stood on the winner’s podium. “The playing of anthems is one of the most emotive parts of any Games, and it was an incredible moment for me at the Moscow and Los Angeles games.”

With the Paralympics following immediately after the Olympic Games, the winning anthems that will be heard most often include some of the dullest tunes - the British national anthem is widely rated one of the most musically disappointing, and it's hoped that more than 30 gold medals will go to Team GB.


10 Gold-Medal National Anthems


Russia - inspiring


Italy - jaunty


Japan - moving


Bangladesh - lilting


Jamaica - stately


Israel - tragic


France - rousing


Hungary - soulful


Cameroon - bouncy


Bulgaria - tear-jerking


5 Wooden Spoon Anthems









United Kingdom



Missing Australia for the

Missing Australia for the wooden spoon. It is not patriotic, moving or anything that shows pride. Also, it is four chords - the national anthem is a fecking pop song! I actually groan when it comes on. For great national anthems, I have always been fond of Canada's.

The Australian National

The Australian National Anthem, "Advance Australia Fair" is a dreadful dirge that sounds like a cross between a travelogue and a plea for the spare change for a bus-ticket. Few citizens know the words or can even be bothered learning them, with sports participants and onlookers alike merely mouthing empty nothings to the tune which grinds on for an apparent eternity. It reflects nothing of the country apart from agriculture and scenic views and seems more crafted to be politically-correct than anything patriotic or reflecting how this country was born. Note how most really uplifting or stirring anthems like those of Russia, Japan and France are born of great vicissitudes and turbulent histories. I've been to where these have been sung by locals and everyone delivers with pride and passion, no more so, in my experience, than the Russians and the French, but no doubt by others too. Not so here in Oz. Australia has had no serious fire and conflict on its shores to anneal its soul, and the best start would be made by burning this galactically awful example of an anthem at the stake. Others may disagree. That is their right but it makes them no more correct in their view.

Doug4500, Will all due

Doug4500, Will all due respect, You err in one respect. If You consider the Aborigine nation You might change Your tune especially as the annealing of their souls continues to this day even after 50,000 years of residency. Otherwise, i agree wholeheartedly with You and apply the same description You so eloquently offer to the New Zealand national anthem.

The Strayan anthem is a great

The Strayan anthem is a great song. My bet would be you are bloddy pommie. If hate this anthem then piss of to mars and tell someone over there. It also is not a pop song it is bollody well traditional. I think that you have a few sheep loose in the top paddock.'s a boring dirge and it makes me cringe every time I hear. Next to no Australians know the stupid words or care very much. And what the hell is a girt anyway.

Have somebody ever heard the

Have somebody ever heard the National Anthem of the Dominican Republic, I mean the lyrics? Is one of the most beautiful lyrics I ever heard in a anthem.

Iran's anthem carries the

Iran's anthem carries the highest humanistic and moral meanings than any other nation. Iranians must be very proud.

If you want to hear a

If you want to hear a magnificient national anthem list to "a Portuguesa". Portugal's national anthem

PAKISTANI national anthem is

PAKISTANI national anthem is the best in the world.

I agree that the British

I agree that the British anthem is a dirge. The most un uplifting, depressing & worst national anthem in the world. I entirely agree that Jerusalem would be outstanding. We seem to have a collective insanity on this matter, why do we keep god save the queen when we all know its a national embarrassment? I refuse to listen to it. That said, I do like the sex pistols version.

My favorites are the

My favorites are the Hungarian, Russian, United Statian, Canadian, German and Israeli.

Pakistans is actually quite

Pakistans is actually quite good.

I don't know how the United

I don't know how the United States national anthem is not on this list?????????? No other national anthems, are able to get me so hyped up and literally ready for battle! A great song and I see why they sing it before every sports event in the U.S. Definitely great motivation!

Wheres the Irish national

Wheres the Irish national anthem???? A soldiers song, sung during the 1916 uprising and eventual war of independence. Not many can claim such an origin and history.

Karl, are you kidding me?

Karl, are you kidding me? That does not even compete with some of the things other countries have gone through. My great grandfather was a member of IRA before it was a terrorist organization. He was in all that stuff and it was nothing more than a rebellion it is my home country and it is definitely not better than Israel's or any of the other top ones for that matter. Good day.- Liam

The IRA was NEVER a terrorist

The IRA was NEVER a terrorist organisation

Where is the Mexicvan Anthem?

Where is the Mexicvan Anthem? is the most beautiful Anthem ever! you need to listen it

The Croatia anthem is my

The Croatia anthem is my favourite by a distance - beautiful and inspiring.

How is South Korea's anthem

How is South Korea's anthem not on this list!?!?! It's beautiful!

I liked the Israeli

I liked the Israeli Anthem..Where is but the Indian One..It is so beautiful

I love Bangladeshi National

I love Bangladeshi National anthem written by a Nobel prize winner Rabindranath tagore. It's amazing. It create an extreme feelings. I also love Indian National Anthem as well, which is not listed here.

With due respects the

With due respects the Bangladesh anthem does go on forever!

First off, im from New

First off, im from New Zealand & i have to nominate "God Defend New Zealand" as THE worst National Anthen. We are NOT a particularly religious country, so why a religious anthem?

The Anthem cannot always be

The Anthem cannot always be fashionable. I know as an expat New Zealand has this liberal tyrannism....if you're not "with it" and conform" to a plethora of gay- anti life - save the penguin opinion, you're ostracized.

Mate I am from Mew Zealand

Mate I am from Mew Zealand and God defend New Zealand in Maori is fantastic. Many of us still adhere to God and just because you don't believe in anything doesn't mean we should as well.

The Norwegian national anthem

The Norwegian national anthem actually has words, which make the piece much more beautiful, I cannon believe that you put the Norwegian national anthem on here without people singing, it is disgraceful. Shame on you

Hey is not the really anthem

Hey is not the really anthem for algeria the music is very bad show the officiel anthem and see the diference

replace god save the queen

replace god save the queen with Sin é Fianna Fáil (Éire)

WHAT THE HELL!!! India's

WHAT THE HELL!!! India's national anthem is not written to praise the ruling king the people who dont understand it please get your facts straight dont disrespect one's country by asumming things . . rabindranath tagore wrote this national anthem to praise india and its beauty geez ! theres something called google before you comment the transalation is..... Thou art the ruler of the minds of all people, Dispenser of India's destiny. Thy name rouses the hearts of Punjab, Sindhu, Gujarat and Maratha, Of the Dravida and Orissa and Bengal; It echoes in the hills of the Vindhyas and Himalayas, mingles in the music of Yamuna and Ganges and is chanted by the waves of the Indian Ocean. They pray for thy blessings and sing thy praise. The saving of all people waits in thy hand, Thou dispenser of India's destiny. Victory, victory, victory to thee.

Where's the Star-Spangled

Where's the Star-Spangled Banner? OK we might have heard that a lot of times. But listen to God Defend New Zealand, with it's emotional tune. And My Kazakhstan (not the Borat one), that really takes the cake.

Cameroon! WOW! What else can

Cameroon! WOW! What else can I say?

Tagore's own statement

Tagore's own statement however refutes the belief that the song was written in praise of George V: In a letter to Pulin Behari Sen, Tagore later wrote, "A certain high official in His Majesty's service, who was also my friend, had requested that I write a song of felicitation towards the Emperor. The request simply amazed me. It caused a great stir in my heart. In response to that great mental turmoil, I pronounced the victory in Jana Gana Mana of that Bhagya Vidhata [ed. God of Destiny] of India who has from age after age held steadfast the reins of India's chariot through rise and fall, through the straight path and the curved. That Lord of Destiny, that Reader of the Collective Mind of India, that Perennial Guide, could never be George V, George VI, or any other George. Even my official friend understood this about the song. After all, even if his admiration for the crown was excessive, he was not lacking in simple common sense."

Indian anthem need a wooden

Indian anthem need a wooden spoon for it's lyrics. Written by a Nobel prize winner but I am sure people are clueless about it's meaning. Many say it's written to prais King George, I would agree on that point. Worst Anthem for any nation. You struggle hundreds of years for freedom, and after all sacrifice, you choose the Ruling country King's praise as your National anthom. What an Irony.

When we sing our national

When we sing our national anthem, we don't really feel like praising King Geroge but we feel the sensation of togetherness and victory. The original purpose of the song might be controversial but it suits the nation perfectly in today's context.

Please do not give voice to

Please do not give voice to someone else's itch. Keep quite if you do not know the meaning of India Anthem. India is the only nation with one official language in each state. India's national anthem is mix of Sanskrit and Bengali as the author belongs to Bengal state. Hence many people who belong to other states may not understand the Anthem completely as it is in different language for them unless someone translates for them.

they managed to botch the

they managed to botch the Brazilian National Anthem at the Closing Ceremony. I felt embarrassed for the orchestra. Didn't they follow a score or something?

This is simply a subjective

This is simply a subjective view about national anthems; I would even go as far as saying that it is a corporate, consensual, and patronizing view of the British establishment arse lickers. "God save the Queen", is the most masochistic of them all, a Queen who is sucking the blood out of a nation, who is very happy imploring god to save their blood sucking Queen, lol... Why don't you ask the people to be the judge of such a contest, maybe the wooden spoon would be given to the boring British "God save the Queen", which should be used to send baby to sleep ...I always worn when I hear it.

You should know by now that

You should know by now that Britain is no more than a constitutional monarchy. The Queen is not in anyway in charge, she is just a figurehead where the Conservatives are the ones who really lead the country. I just wish they replaced 'God Save the Queen' with 'Jerusalem' - only the Scots, Northern Irish and Welsh would get annoyed because it says England not Britain.

I'm Welsh and it wouldn't

I'm Welsh and it wouldn't bother us, we don't recognise or sing God Save the Queen because we've got our own national anthem. As a neutral observer I agree that Jerusalem would be a far better choice for England as a national anthem. My personal favourite (aside from my own) is the German anthem it's very stirring

I actually think that the

I actually think that the Czech Republic has one of the best National Anthems I have ever heard. Aside from China and Brazil of course, but truthfully it's all of individual opinion.

How come no one mentioned

How come no one mentioned anything about the Egyptian national anthem composed by Beethoven of the Arab World Sayed Darwish ..I honestly believe that the Egyptian anthem as a symphony to the neutral ear should be rated as one of the best 5 anthems on the globe..not mentioning that Egypt is the home of arts in the Arab world from the beginning of time to date so it’s not at all unusual Egyptians have one of the most fancy national anthems that you may ever come across

Algerian Athem is actually

Algerian Athem is actually really nice

No South Africa??

No South Africa??

You have used the now defunct

You have used the now defunct Iraqi national anthem fyi. For those interested in the correct (and superior imo) anthem, here it is:

KENYA has the best national


i agree

i agree

The British National Anthem

The British National Anthem has one great advantage over most other examples - it is short!

I have to agree that the

I have to agree that the British national anthem a "dirge of a tune". Surprised that Brazil wasn't nominated as one of the best. One of my personal favourites. I catch myself listening to it with a smile from time to time.

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