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What’s in a song?

May 6, 2010

Waka Waka?

The official song for the FIFA World Cup 2010 is Waka Waka by Colombian Shakira. The choice hasn’t pleased everyone – especially those in South Africa who feel the song should’ve been sung by a South African, or at the very least, an African artist.

Cultural appropriation at its worst? The world ignoring Africa yet again? Or huge over-reaction?

At least backing vocals on the song are performed by the posterboys & girls of  post-apartheid multi-racial South Africa –  Afropop group Freshlyground.  Just beggars the question why Shakira was needed to do the lead vocals in the first place…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Malte permalink
    May 10, 2010 11:32 am

    Hi Andrew,
    thanks for sharing.

    I also think its sad that they didn’t choose a(n) (South-)African artist, but judging from the last world cup (and also european cup) songs, it apparently has become a normal thing just to pick international superstars (which have little to do with the host country). So a missed chance, definitely, but nothing in particular against (South-)Africa, I would say.

    Here are the songs of the last years:

    1998: Ricky Martin for France

    2002: Vangelis for South Korea

    2004: Nelly Furtado for Portugal

    2006: Herbert Grönemeyer for Germany (hahaha, the odd one out – sorry!)

    Or Bob Sinclair? Can’t remember which one was the official song.

    2008: Shaggy for Austria and Switzerland

    (also full of stereotypes)

    Wow, these videos make me look forward to the world Cup even more so. I hope they’ll show matches in LSE theatres! 🙂

  2. November 5, 2010 3:46 pm

    This reminds me of a passage in David Harvey’s modern neo-marxist treatise “The New Imperialism” where writing about accumulation by dispossession he quips: “the music industry is notorious for the appropriation and exploitation of grassroots culture and creativity”.

    I had a presentation to do about neo-marxist theories of development and only deemed it thought-provoking and appropriate to have Paul Simon’s Graceland playing in the background throughout. It made up for a shocking presentation.

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