One of the first things you learn as a kid is that there are lots of things that are fun, but that organised fun is the absolute opposite.
There is something about being told how to enjoy yourself that counter-productively sucks the joy from any activity, and this is a creeping phenomenon around major sporting events as over-eager governing bodies pump out focus-grouped dirge that they know cannot fail to be a commercial success because of it’s expensively-acquired, sponsor-laden cachet.
Which brings us to the official World Cup song – video below – released on Friday morning to an expectant audience of, well, not many.
Performing the official World Cup song is great for any artist because you are paid well, flown into perform at the planet’s biggest sporting event and you know that the song itself will blare from the speakers of every stadium and be smeared across televisual advertising space for a concentrated 30-day period of hyper-saturation. It is a song that people will have to listen to even if they don’t want to, an audio torture device produced by Diplo.
The LA-based Diplo is a well-known producer, though his role may as well be renamed ‘beep provider’ on the evidence of most of his tracks, given his main contribution seems to be injecting random noises that you might otherwise expect to hear from an old computer. Diplo is given Latin sensation Nicky Jam, 1990s TV star Will Smith and Kosovo Albanian singer and songwriter Era Istrefi as his tools to make a memorable song but completely fails, instead leaving us with a confused execution of an idea that was never clear.
First impressions are that it has everything you’d expect from a heavily-sanitised corporate creation masquerading as vaguely-relevant musical product.
There is a generic pumping beat overladen by the suggestion of crowds cheering. It is as if human beings – or as Fifa knows them, customers – are being sub-consciously informed that they are expected to like this tune like all the other normal people – “can you not hear the synthetic joy? Are you not entertained?”
It is the epitome of a try-hard creation that lacks much of what makes music great – inspiration and raw emotion – and lays on thick the things that we couldn’t care less about – meaningless, directionless lyrics and a tiresome wailing from Istrefi, whose songwriting talent has clearly not been drawn on for this tragic effort.
Perhaps there should be no surprise, after all it takes only a quick glance at the list of previous official World Cup™ anthems and there is only one that was passable. The others were so forgettable that they have already been, well, forgotten. Paint-by-numbers manufactured fun that will pollute the airwaves all summer, filling time that could have been dedicated to a musical creation of some originality or care, this latest creation is destined to be consigned to the waste bin of World Cup history.
“One life, give it up cos you’ve got one life” is the lyric that pops out the most purely on the basis of repetition, purely on the basis of repetition, purely on the basis of repetition. And as you’ve just discovered on a micro level, repetition of something banal doesn’t make it any better.
The formulaic addition of what can only be described as ‘Pitbull trumpets’ probably could have been predicted but it doesn’t make them any more forgivable. As with everything related to this song, they come across as artificial and eminently dislikeable.
Great World Cup songs – and there have been many – are rarely the Fifa-approved cheesefest and usually come out of left-field. This one’s driving straight at you down the middle of the road, and if you haven’t been flattened by its hyperactive, beat-laden squeal already, then around 45 days of hearing it continuously should do the trick.
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