It all started in Chile in 1962 with “El rock del Mundial”, a song composed and performed by the local band Los Ramblers, led by the pianist Jorge Rojas. The whole country went crazy with the rockabilly rhythm of the song, which over time became the best-selling single in the history of Chilean music.
After the success of the Los Ramblers’ world hit, the official song of the World Championship became an undeniable classic. Some of them passed unnoticed and today they rest in the limbo of forgotten music, others became mythical and imperishable, like “Un'estate italiana”, the unforgettable theme of the 90 World Cup composed by Giorgio Moroder, which we all hummed without knowing a word of Italian, and that generated so much international success that it even had a Spanish version.
After Chile would come “World Cup Willie” in England, “Futbol Mexico 70” in 70 Mexico, and “Fussball ist unser Leben” in West Germany in 1974 which had the participation of some stars from the German national team of that time.
At this point it was unimaginable to have a World Cup without an official song, and in 1978 it would be Argentina’s turn. The fifth world song premiered at the World Cup organized by the bloody dictatorship led by Rafael Videla, Emilio Massera and Orlando Agosti, and was the work of an international star of the level of Ennio Morricone who was chosen to compose the piece entitled simply “El Mundial.”
Born in Rome, Italy on November 10, 1928, Morricone is one of the greatest composers of film soundtracks in the history of cinema.
With his particular style, the composer forever changed the music in spaghetti westerns –films of cowboys filmed in Italy with a low budget but with a lot of love for cinema–, from his contribution to the magnificent “Trilogy of the Dollar”, made up by movies A Fistful of Dollars (1964), for a For a few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood. That song that the lucky ones know how to whistle when we imagined a tense confrontation between cowboys was composed by Ennio Morricone and is the main theme and musical leitmotiv of the movie The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, a classic of pop culture.
Morricone also composed other classical pieces outside the western genre for cult films such as Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978), The Untouchables (Brian De Palma, 1987), or the Italian classics Cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988) and Novecento (Bernardo Bertoluci, 1976).
Despite being the composer of more than 500 soundtracks for film and television, the judges of the most important awards in the film industry denied him an Oscar for at least 40 years. Only in 2016, at 87 years old, Morricone finally received it for best soundtrack in Quentin Tarantino's neowestern entitled The Hateful Eight (2015).
It is at least a little paradoxical that the one chosen to compose the official song of our first World Cup had been an Italian, if one takes into account the supposedly patriotic and ultra-nationalist character of the military coup.
“The World” is a song –instrumental except for a single voice in the first seconds that announces “Argentina, here is the World Cup”–, simple and cheerful, decorated with a constant chorus that accompanies the sound of the instruments, and enriched with wind instruments and synthesizers. For some Argentines “El Mundial” is an unforgettable song; others, however, believe that Morricone didn´t do his best and composed on autopilot. They criticize the lack of emotion, and that lack made it a song that never came to transcend, much less win the hearts of the Argentine people. The great Ennio left us a lifeless song far from his best moments as a composer of soundtracks.
“El Mundial” was the official song of 78 Argentina, however in the Argentine´s homes another theme was listened, a much more popular song with a fundamental element: it had lyrics. It was "the other" official song, composed by Martín Garré and performed by the Municipal Symphonic Band of the City of Buenos Aires with the stable choir of the Teatro Colón: “The official World Cup march” (So it appears in the records of that time, while Morricone's was called “The official World Cup melody”), also known popularly as “25 million Argentines”.
Despite having two official songs the local fans didn´t lean for any of them to support their team on the stadiums, but sang the catchy "Vamos, Vamos, Argentina", a popular song that is still chanted until today in each stadium where the Argentine national team is present.
Ennio Morricone became known for composing music for movies with cursed characters, outlaws, mercenaries. Their soundtracks embellish violent stories full of murderers, armed men who take the law into their own hands, gunmen who don´t hesitate to kill to achieve their purposes.
It is not strange then, within a twisted logic, that the Italian has been chosen to compose the official song of a World Cup organized by a de facto government full of assassins and outlawed gunmen.