fri 19/07/2024

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

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

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


The winning anthems that will be heard most often include some of the dullest tunes

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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.

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 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.


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