Arts, Culture and Sport
FIFA World Cup 2022: Afro-beats sensation Davido puts the world into football mood
Since Senegalese icon Youssou N’Dour’s combined with Belgian diva Axelle Red in singing the hit song La cour des grandes (Do you mind if I play), the official anthem of the 1998 Football World Cup, African artists and beats have been a regular feature in this great sporting event.
Music has been synonymous with global sporting events dating back to the days of the Ancient Olympics. In living memory of the modern Summer Olympics, music was played at the 1896 edition, the first in modern history. The football World Cup, which alongside the Olympics are the two biggest global sporting events on the planet, came into being in 1930.
But it wasn’t until 1990 that world football ruling body Fifa started to adopt songs and making them official soundtracks of the global football extravaganza. However, some of the songs were poorly conceived and substandard, so failed to leave the lasting impression that had been envisaged by the organisers of this celebrated global jamboree.
In addition to N’Dour and Axelle’s collaboration at the 1998 World Cup in France, another monster hit, Cup of Life, turned the hitherto unknown Latino singer Ricky Martin into an instant favourite of fans. His career took a different trajectory after that.
South Africa hosted the World Cup in 2010, a historic first for the continent, and naturally it was expected to be an African-themed World Cup music-wise.
Many saw it as an opportunity to promote African talent. It wasn’t entirely the case, though. Although the official theme song, Waka Waka (This Time for Africa), was indeed Africa-themed, the honours of being the leader singer were given to Colombian global star Shakira. But it wasn’t all lost, as the dance song, which got spectators showing their moves in stadiums across the Rainbow Nation, featured the South African band Freshlyground. The song went on to become the most successful World Cup song of all time, with over 15 million downloads worldwide and over three billion views on YouTube. It probably justified why Fifa chose Shakira over African musicians – the commercial value.
Singing a new tune
A decade plus later, it seems lessons have been learnt by the Fifa, who have done away with a one theme song. For the forthcoming World Cup in Qatar, there is an entire album.
The football World Cup is a global event but it’s also a business, a huge marketing exercise and in keeping with that, Fifa decided to select Nigerian Afro-beats sensation Davido. Davido has a global reach, appealing to a wide array of people and communities across the planet, who love football and will definitely be watching the World Cup. The Nigerian superstar’s story is not your typical African tale of rags to riches through music or another talent. He was born in the United States to a wealthy parents, so he enjoyed a very comfortable upbringing.
Davido is currently the most followed African artiste on Instagram with 23 million followers and 12 million on the microblogging site, Twitter. Audiences love the theme songs and as part of the marketing strategy to engage the spectators and build up a hype for the Qatar World Cup, Fifa has already released a handful of official songs.
These songs are usually as popular as the tournament itself, and have earned a place in every football fan’s heart during the tournament and beyond. The first song released was Hayya Hayya (Better Together), featuring Davido, Trinidad Cardona and Aisha.
It is a fusion of Rhythm and Blues with heavy reggae influence. Its video has already amassed 28 million views on the video sharing platform, Youtube, before the tournament has even started!
Hayya Hayya was the first song released by Fifa and has the makings of stealing all the limelight from the other songs on the World Cup album.
Davido, with his strong African base, US singer Trinidad Cardona and Qatari Aisha were deliberately chosen to represent a global outlook of the World Cup.
Fifa, on its official website, said: “The entertainment strategy was conceived to create innovative and meaningful connections between football fans, music enthusiasts, players, artists, and the game and songs they all love. The combination of breakthrough US star Trinidad Cardona, Afrobeats icon Davido and Qatari sensation Aisha captures the spirit of the Fifa World Cup and the FIFA Sound strategy by bringing together inspiration from across the globe.”
FIFA Chief Commercial Officer Kay Madati added that “by bringing together voices from the Americas, Africa and the Middle East, this song symbolises how music – and football – can unite the world.”
Davido’s international standing as one of the best African artists has never been in doubt, but it is this endorsement by Fifa that perhaps seals his stardom.
The 29-year-old musician was catapulted to stardom by the single Dami Duro, which he released in 2011, and followed by a fantastic video a few months later.
In 2012, Davido released his debut studio album Baba Olowo (Child of a Wealthy Person), which further cemented his place as one of the rising African stars.
He has since released countless singles, which have brought him fame and fortune.
This is the first World Cup to be held in the Arab world, a largely conservative society. Many visitors to Qatar for the World Cup do not know exactly what to expect on the off-field entertainment side of things.
Whilst there will be restrained vibe at Qatar 2022, unlike in all previous World Cups held elsewhere across the world, music is a universal language and rest assured Davido and his colleagues will be rocking them all without bounds.
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