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Top 10 National Anthems

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Sean Harris. Whether it's a royal wedding or the World Cup final, there's only one way to mark the occasion musically! For this list, we've looked at the most rousing, most patriotic, most historic and interesting national anthems out there. Welcome to, and today we're counting down our picks for the top 10 national anthems. Special thanks to our users jkellis, HermaphroGynandro, DiscipleOfAnakin313, Thomas Schmid, Sara Nachman and Jan Robin for submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by Sean Harris.

Top 10 National Anthems

Whether it’s a royal wedding or the World Cup final, there’s only one way to mark the occasion musically! Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 national anthems.

For this list, we’ve looked at the most rousing, most patriotic, most historic and interesting national anthems out there.

#10: “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika”
South Africa

First written as a hymn in 1897, this uplifting effort is also the national anthem for Zambia and Tanzania. Officially adopted by South Africa in 1994, it had been used before Nelson Mandela’s presidency as an unofficial anthem of the oppressed people during Apartheid. A pan-African song for liberation, its lyrics call on God to guide South Africa, to bless it, and to answer its prayers. The message is simplicity and strength combined!

#9: “Kimigayo”

These are the oldest lyrics to be used in a national anthem, and they are amongst the shortest as well. But “Kimigayo” is also one of the most recognisable, and arguably controversial anthems out there! Dating back to the year 1000 (or possibly beyond!), the words first appeared anonymously in the poetry anthology, the “Kokin Wakashu.” Calling for a reign long enough to see pebbles turn to boulders, and then the boulders to see moss, the anthem’s use post-Second World War was allowed, but its association with the abolished Empire was not.

#8: “Hino Nacional Brasileiro”

And so from a short anthem, to a very long one! There are two stanzas to the Brazilian entry, and 26 lines to each stanza... The song is a story of peace, of pride, and of overriding love for Brazil the place and Brazil the people. National law states that the second stanza is optional in an instrumental rendition, but both halves must be sung in a vocal performance - thus the Brazilian crowd’s refusal to stop singing during the 2014 FIFA World Cup!

#7: “The Star-Spangled Banner”
United States of America

First penned following an American victory against the British in the War of 1812, the ‘star spangled banner’ is a reference to the American flag, which was then a reduced version of what we know today, with just 15 stars to it. Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics then, although his poem didn’t achieve anthem-status until 1931! A musical illustration of the starred and striped symbol of hope that was ‘Old Glory’ on the eve of victory, it is difficult to sing, but impossible to forget!

#6: “Il Canto degli Italiani”

Known amongst Italians as “Inno di Mameli,” after its writer Goffredo Mameli, there are few national anthems that rouse as well as this one! The opening instrumental stiffens the stance, and the opening two lines unleash the vocals! “Brothers of Italy,” in case you weren’t aware, “Italy has woken!” From here it’s a tale of heroic war, the search for unity, and for victory. Italian history is a colorful one, and it’s put against a pulsating piece of music here... It’s crescendo after crescendo after crescendo!

#5: “Deutschlandlied”

Officially made the German national song in 1922 during the Weimar Republic, this anthem was applied to West Germany post-WWII, and has been used in part by a reunified Germany since the knocking down of the Berlin Wall in 1990. Though the lyrics were written in 1841, before the country’s initial unification in 1871, the first verse was used by and is closely associated with the Nazi regime and has therefore been unofficially banned. Today, only the song’s third stanza is used as the anthem, and it states that “unity and law and freedom are the foundation for happiness” – an ideal worth striving for!

#4: “The State Anthem of the Russian Federation”

This anthem’s been chopped and changed throughout the USSR’s and Russia’s recent history. Created in 1944 to replace “The Internationale”, the Stalin-centric original lyrics were dropped in 1956 upon the dictator’s death in ‘53. New words weren’t written until 1977, and they focused on the triumph of communism. With the dissolution of the USSR, Russia adopted a new but disliked anthem. The lyric-free “Patrioticheskaya Pesnya” just didn’t cut the motivational mustard, so Vladimir Putin reinstalled the original USSR anthem, with fresh lyrics in 2000. It’s long-winded, but worth it!

#3: “O Canada”

At three, we have French lyrics, at least originally! “O Canada” was first translated into English in 1906, and its English version has since undergone a series of revisions. First performed in 1880 at a Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day banquet in Quebec City, though, it eventually fought off early English musical competition like “The Maple Leaf Forever” to become the national song. “O Canada” wasn’t officially recognised as the national anthem until 1980(!), but it had been sung at special occasions for a long while before that!

#2: “God Save the Queen”
United Kingdom

An anthem that’s as far-reaching as the British Empire once was, “God Save the Queen” holds patriotic power the world over. The anthem for England, for Britain generally, and for many of the Commonwealth realms, the first particularly recognisable version dates back to 1744, but a 1619 keyboard piece by John Bull also bares a royal resemblance. Nothing symbolises Britain like the Queen and the Monarchy, and nothing soundtracks it like this anthem. It’s ‘victorious’, ‘happy’, ‘glorious’, and everywhere in between.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- “Du gamla, Du fria”
- “A Portuguesa”
- “Himo Nacional Mexicano”
- “Hymn to Liberty”
Greece and Cyprus
- “Wilhelmus van Nassouwe”
- “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau”

#1: “La Marseillaise”

Taking the win in this most rousing of WatchMojo countdowns is an anthem conceived amidst the French Revolution that still has hairs standing on end! “La Marseillaise” was written as European powers looked to invade the increasingly anti-monarchist France in the late 1700s. Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle was given the task of writing a rallying call for French fighters, and boy, did he deliver! If a soldier wasn’t inspired by this, then he was on the wrong side! “La Marseillaise” ‘marches on, marches on’ to the top of our patriotic pile!

Do you agree with our list? Which anthem did we miss? For more proud Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to

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