You decide! Or, er, read this article I wrote for The Guardian about the song’s 200th anniversary, then make your mind up.
The article features comments from a descendant of the anthem’s author; a pop star who was banned from US radio for messing with it; and many other fascinating people. Yes, I did try calling Bruce Springsteen. No, he wasn’t available!
It also mentions Marvin Gaye’s bizarrely sexy version of the anthem, which is fortunate as it means I have an excuse to use the above portrait of Gaye to illustrate this post.
The portrait’s stolen from this article about Gaye’s anthem, which appeared in Grantland last year. It’s a great read and well worth your time… after my Guardian article, of course!
Things not to do in an election campaign:
1) Visit the grave of the composer of your country’s national anthem, a song displayed in every classroom
2) Announce to dozens of cameramen that your father and him were best mates
3) Wistfully read aloud the words to that anthem
4) Get its name wrong
Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, a 70-year-old politician running in Turkey’s presidential election, somehow managed to do exactly that last week mistaking a poem called Martyrs of Galipoli for the country’s anthem, the Independence March (that’s him getting ready to make the gaffe in the photo).
He admittedly only had a slim chance of beating Tayyip Erdogan in the 10 August vote before making the mistake. But now… Yes, he’s screwed, isn’t he?
It’s a big shame, as the election’s important, especially if you’re a fan of women laughing in public. Ihsanoglu was Erdogan’s only serious opposition. But, if you can’t recognise the words to your country’s anthem, should you be allowed to be in charge of it? (“Yes!” I hear you shout, but that’s not what a 50-year-old builder in Istanbul’s going to think, is it?)
Ihsanoglu’s been trying to defend himself ever since, saying things like, “I learnt the anthem while sucking my mother’s milk.” It hasn’t helped; no one needs that image stuck in their heads!
The BBC’s got a great primer on the election here. Go and have a read and see an awful photo of Erdogan shamelessly clambering for votes by playing football.
What do you do if you’ve blown up a plane and need some good publicity? If you’re the Donetsk People’s Republic you, er, launch a contest for a national anthem.
God knows what the rebels hope getting an anthem will achieve, but the call’s serious: anyone who wants to submit words has until midnight Wednesday to do so. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org with your entry.
Given the fighting’s intensifying around the city, I’m not sure the republic will last until Wednesday, but still, I imagine there’s a lot of Dutch people who will want to enter.
I have contacted the republic’s government to ask why they’re doing this, why they’ve only given a few days for entries, and why they’re not just using Russia’s anthem since they want to become part of that country, but they haven’t got back to me. I’ll update this if they ever do.
I did also try calling their “hotline for complaints about cases of armed looting and possible terrorist acts and provocations”, but no one picked up. Probably for the best!
As an aside, if you’re interested in a) what’s happening in Ukraine, and b) music, I thoroughly recommend this Foreign Policy piece from last month on ”the Ukraine crisis as told through rap videos”. Fascinating, disturbing and bizarre, in that order.
Update: The fighting’s got worse, and no anthem’s emerged. It’s not going to happen is it?
Dumbwalking is what you do when you’re staring at a smartphone and end up falling over someone’s bag and knocking your teeth out. It’s also the number one threat to Japanese society as we know it!
Here’s a piece about it I recently recorded for the BBC’s excellent From Our Own Correspondent programme.
You can also read about it on the BBC’s website.
I basically spent a night trying to trip people up at the Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo. Yes, I’m surprised I got paid for it too.
Sorry this has got nothing to do with national anthems - the point of this blog - but I made this on a recent trip to Japan to research the country’s anthem so it’s, sort of, relevant!
One fact I forgot to mention in the piece is that Japanese newspapers publish “death by smartphone” statistics giving running counts of how many people have been run over while updating their Facebook status. Seriously. I’m sure newspapers in other countries will be doing the same soon.
The woman in the photo is NOT a dumbwalker, by the way. She’s just a very nice person I met at Shibuya and was happy to pretend to be one for me!
Watching yourself on the news!
I was on the BBC’s World News Today programme yesterday talking about Switzerland’s ongoing national anthem contest, among other things (over 200 entries received, one oddly in Portuguese, winner to be announced next year).
You can watch it again here if the above photo isn’t enough for you.
Thanks to Philippa for the nice chat, although I wish the hair and make-up department had offered me a restyle as well as putting a lot of foundation on my face!
I wanted to pick an underdog - someone who is going to get knocked out next week with just a point to their name (Hello, Iran!).
Failing that, I wanted to pick Bosnia, this being the first time its anthem has been heard at a World Cup - a landmark moment and one the team’s coach, Safet Sušić, found so emotional he was still crying five minutes into the Argentina game.
But instead I’ve got to go with Brazil. Yes, the favourites. Yes, the hosts.
I know it’s a cop out. But anyone who has seen the crowds singing it will agree. When they carry on after the music’s stopped, finishing off the first verse, it gives you goosebumps.
It doesn’t matter that they’re singing some of the most appalling love poetry you’ve ever come across - “You are beautiful, strong, an intrepid colossus” - it’s enough to make you want to be Brazilian. The two times I’ve heard it now, I’ve had to stop myself from grabbing a Molotov cocktail and going out to protest about bus prices.
It’s even made me warm to David Luiz. Now THAT’S power.
Here’s an MP3 of the singing before the Croatia game ripped off a dodgy Korean TV station. So good it’s worth downloading.
Here’s hoping it starts a trend. Except here in England. No one needs two verses of God Save the Queen.