Ole Ola, the Brazil World Cup goes pop with one for the merchandisers

‘We are one’? Count me out of this MOR horror show

Brazilian singer Claudia Leitte and rapper Pitbull: another balls-up for FIFA.   Photograph:  Ricardo Moraes/Reuters

Brazilian singer Claudia Leitte and rapper Pitbull: another balls-up for FIFA. Photograph: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters

Fri, Jan 31, 2014, 00:00

It would be desperately unfair to all involved to pre-judge the Brazil World Cup 2014 Official Song Anthem before it is released in March. But it will probably be rubbish. We Are One (Ole Ola) is by the pop-rapper Pitbull and features contributions from Jennifer Lopez and Claudie Leitte. Could it be that Fifa President Sepp Blatter thought that Brazil was Hispanic – hence the selection of the Cuban-American Pitbull and the Puerto Rican-American Jennifer Lopez? Luckily, Claudie Leitte is a bone fide Portuguese-speaking Brazilian person – even if her role in the song appears to be that of a glorified backing singer.

Speaking at Rio’s still unfinished Maracana football stadium last week, Pitbull said: “I truly believe that this great game and the power of music will help unify us because we are best when we are one.”

That should cheer them up no end in the favelas. People may indeed, as Pitbull has it, be at their best when they are one but that doesn’t happen much in this year’s host nation as Brazil has a notorious and dangerous income inequality problem.

The Fifa World Cup song is traditionally an embarrassing irrelevance to the main action. Dreamt up by some marketing drone to maximise “assorted merchandise” sales, the song is supposed to be multilingual but in practice this has come to mean the song must be in English with a few words of the native lingo thrown in. The fact that FIFA has gone for two Hispanic musicians for a Portuguese-speaking country is indicative of how they always balls this up.

For the last World Cup in South Africa (a country rich in musical heritage) they dragged Colombian singing star Shakira across continents to do the official anthem: the instantly forgettable Waka Waka. Colombia shares a border with Brazil – even Shakira has more in common with Brazil geographically than Pitbull.

But then the Fifa World Cup anthems make the average Eurovision song contest entry seem like something by Megadeth. The “let’s all play football and live in harmonious global happiness together” sentiments of the songs coupled with the bland, MOR singers they draft in have turned them into a perverse horror show.

Ironically, it was music used in World Cup coverage which forever changed how sport and music interact – but it had nothing to do with any Fifa official anthem. For Italia ’90, a BBC sports producer was looking at the footage the Corporation was using for its World Cup programmes. He became entranced by Marco Tardelli’s famous 1982 World Cup goal celebration and decided the only music that could possibly do justice to the visuals was an aria from the final act of Puccini’s Turandot, Nessun Dorma.

Nothing has been the same since. Every single sporting event now comes complete with a slo-mo replay backed by some useless, “poignant” ballad – and these “beautiful sports-music montages” (which are anything but) will be all over the upcoming Winter Olympics and they will be unavoidable down Rio way this summer. Because, after all, “we are one”.

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