The 10 best national anthems
Uruguay: National anthem
One of the most euphoric pieces of classical music I’ve ever heard. Banks of trumpets play crescendos to false endings — for five minutes. But somehow it works.
Bangladesh: My Golden Bengal
A wonderful anthem that sounds like it was written for a stroll along the Seine. It really needs Jacques Brel. Which is probably not what the Bangladeshi composer had in mind.
Tajikistan: National anthem
Written when the country was part of the USSR, it sounds like the music that plays in James Bond films when a Russian spy is about to cut off Bond’s manhood. It doesn’t try to soar, but frighten, and it’s all the better for it.
Mauritania: National anthem
A trip into the heart of the souk, albeit a menacing one. The melody is so unusual that most Mauritanians can’t sing along to it, so pretend it doesn’t have any words.
Dominica: Isle of Beauty, Isle of Splendour
A simple, spiralling melody stuck on repeat for 47 seconds, but there’s such movement and elegance to it.
US Virgin Isles: Virgin Islands March
It’s Mary Poppins! One of the few anthems to literally pull out all the bells and whistles. This should be a soundtrack to a kids’ film.
Senegal: Strum Your Koras, Strike Your Balafons
How can an anthem that name checks two local instruments in its title — a harp and a xylophone — be any less than brilliant? It’s really two tunes — the first twinkles, the second strolls. But both are amazing.
Nigeria: Arise O Compatriots, Nigeria’s Call Obey
Written in 1978 by the Nigerian Police Band, this should be an awful march. Fortunately it
features relentless Afrobeat percussion, which makes any tune outstanding.
Nepal: Hundreds of Flowers
Adopted last year, when Nepal’s House of Representatives threw out the old, western-style anthem. This folk melody on strings and hand drums sounds like slowed-down bhangra. Shame it’s probably unplayable by brass, so unlikely to be heard outside Nepal.
Japan: May Your Reign Last Forever
Solemn. So much so, it’ll have you thinking of everyone you’ve lost for its duration. Rarely does an anthem carry such weight.