You don’t normally hear national anthems outside of school assemblies, sporting events, and race riots. With an anthem like ours, it’s probably a good thing. That being said, there are some super badass national anthems out there that are worth a listen.
5. La Marseillaise – France
The French aren’t particularly known for their military might anymore, but at one point in time they had a decent bunch of mass murderers and Reigns of Terror. Fittingly, their anthem calls their citizens to arms, tells them to shed “impure blood” and raise a “bloody banner”, and spits in the face of “hordes of slaves, of traitors and conjured kings”. It’s also a fucking swelling song, so much so the Bolsheviks used it for a while. Imagine this being screamed at a footy match in English while you’re warming up.
4. Kassaman – Algeria
Trust the Algerians to declare independence from France by one up-ing their brutality. The first line of their anthem is “We swear by the lightning that destroys”, which sounds like the initiation rite of a death metal lion-worshipping tribe. Some lines address France directly by saying “O France, the day of reckoning is at hand”. “From our heroes we shall make an army come to being, and on our dead we build glory” – the dead are their strength. They don’t give a shit about mortality. They are going to fuck shit up. Watch out.
3. Tiên Quân Ca – Vietnam
The national anthem of Vietnam is adopted from North Vietnam pre-unification. It describes “soldiers of Vietnam, marching onwards” in the name of “our flag, dyed with the blood of victory, [that] bears the spirit of the country.” Its badass-ness also stems from its inspiring call to lead the country out of poverty, hand in hand, in unison, “for too long have we swallowed our hatred.” It ends with more bloodshed. Moral of the story: violence is liberating!
2. Hatikvah – Israel
The national anthem of Israel isn’t badass in the traditional sense (defined above), but is badass in just how fucking tragic and depressing it is. You can tell straight away: Hatikvah means “The Hope”. On the other hand, “Advance Australia Fair” means “Advance Australia Fair”, which just sounds dopey. One of the lines is “as long as tears from our eyes, flow like benevolent rain.” WAH. It keeps going and going and you keep crying and crying. Guns N’ Roses once played Hatikvah as the lead to Don’t Cry. SORRY I JUST DID.
1. Star Spangled Banner – Jim Hendrix (USA)
Star Spangled Banner is OK. Whitney Houston’s version is excellent, sure. But let’s be real: the version of Jimi Hendrix is better than the ‘normal’ version ever would be. Played at Woodstock around the time when ‘black music’ and ‘Native Americans’ and ‘guitars’ were all lambasted as devil’s music, playing the Star Spangled Banner as a fucking acid rock anthem that devolves into noise is an incredibly ballsy move. Sure, there’s no blood and guts in it, but there’ll be lots of it when your HEAD EXPLODES.
Honourable mentions: The most badass national anthem writer is Rabindranath Tagore, who wrote the anthems for Bangladesh and India. In other words, 1.4 billion people. What have you done then?