"Rule Britannia/Britannia rules the waaaaaaves/Britons never, never, never shall be slaaaaaves!" Even if it isn't technically the national anthem, it's lively, stirring, and patriotic to wake up to in the morning.
Additional heights of awesome are reached when Jeremiah Clarke's "Prince of Denmark's March" is overlaid onto it, as was the case with the now-defunct BBC Radio 4 Theme.
The actual anthem for Britain, "God Save the Queen" is awesome on its own, as is England's, "Land of Hope and Glory".
"Jerusalem", used by some English sporting teams, was composed by Hubert Parry and orchestrated by Edward Elgar. It was adapted from William Blake's poetry during World War I and the King himself said he preferred it! To demonstrate how good it is, here it is being sung by 5 000 people.
The tune of "God Save the Queen" was used as the national anthem of a number of countries, including Liechtenstein and (formerly) Switzerland. It was also, in the form of "Heil dir im Siegerskranz" the Royal Anthem of the Kingdom of Prussia.
Just the two or so lines that John Lennon sings in Help! is enough to get it lodged in your head. Amazingly catchy national song.
"Zadok the Priest", the music that is played - live - in Westminster Abbey when a new British monarch is anointed as ruler. Perhaps Handel's most epic piece of music. It was first played at the coronation of King George II in 1727.note The Bible verses which it sets to music, meanwhile, had been read at every coronation since that of King Edgar the Peaceable in 973. It is said that the new king paused and closed his eyes for a moment as it played. Considering he was the last British monarch to actually lead the army in the field, its awesomeness clearly rubbed off on him.
Tragically, the actual Australian anthem, "Advance Australia Fair" is probably one of the most boring, uninspiring anthems around. But sung by Adam Hills and set to the tune of "Working Class Man" by Jimmy Barnes? Very awesome.
"Waltzing Matilda" is often referred to as the the unofficial national anthem of Australia and with good reason.
Canada may not be the first country that comes to mind when it comes to kick-ass music, but its national anthem can be quite majestic.
The Italian national anthem, "Il Canto degli Italiani" (also known as, "Inno di Mameli", or "Fratelli d'Italia"), has a fanfare building it up, and a thunderous chorus singing the lyrics. A true force for Italy.
Another great contender is the instrumental, royal anthem for Italy, "Marcia Real d'Ordinanza" (which was also used by Mussolini for the first two decades of his rule).
When Italy became the "Italian Socialist Republic", the country adopted a new anthem in use for two or three years, known as "Giovinezza". This rendition sounds like a great opera, mixed in with an energetic, booming chorus.
Another unofficial anthem for Fascist Italy was "Faccetta Nera". The vocals are very powerful, and the lyrics are even more "in your face" than the official anthem of Fascist Italy...
An anthem of the Italian Communist Party, "Bandiera Rossa" has a very powerful, energetic melody, with accompanying lyrics discussing the proletariat, and waving the red banner of communism.
"Das Deutschlandlied", out of all currently used national anthems, though the original form of "Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser" is better. It is also the only national anthem with a tune by a composer of the first rank, Joseph Haydn. Which is a bit funny, as Haydn was an Austrian who spent most of his life working for Hungarians...
Sung a cappella by a choir can make your spine tingle. Something spine-tingling about it without backing. When you take into account the lyrics - the anxiety of not knowing if your country and your fellow men have survived through the night, and then that sight of seeing your flag rising higher and flying and realizing that yes, everything is alright... it's pretty chilling stuff.
Here is a heavenly performance of The Star-Spangled Banner by the Massachusetts All-State Choir. Choir members were crying while singing.
This is how it was meant to be heard, sung by the choirs of the US Servce Academies. Absolutely beautiful.
Sandi Patty's 1986 rendition from the Liberty Weekend special, during the rededication of the Statue of Liberty. One of the greatest voices in American history, and debuting a gorgeous new final verse to boot.
And still we can see, as the years have gone by There's a dream in our land, like a flame that keeps burning And the lantern of hope from the harbor still shines Those who seek freedom's dream to its light are still turning
And we look to the skies, as we lift up our eyes For we know with the dawn, we will see our flag rise! For this is our Star-Spangled Banner unfurled As a sign to the free, and a hope to the world!!
While not nearly as epic as "La Marseillaise", the anthem of Vichy France, "Maréchal, nous Voilà!" is certainly epic in its own right.note The song was actually plagiarised by the composer from a Polish Jewish musician, who ironically was deported and murdered at Auschwitz.
That tune has had no less than 4 sets of official lyricsnote most of which, regrettably, had all the poetry of the section on tractor production from the last Five-Year Plan, making it a rare case where not understanding the language actually added to the experience. The fact that the tune remained unchanged each time attests to its awesomeness:
It was the Bolshevik Party anthem in the 1930s.
Stalin adopted it as the official Soviet National Anthem in 1944, with lyrics praising him.
Brezhnev did away with all references to Stalin, and all references to World War II, in 1977.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian Federation got rid of the anthem altogether, but public sentiment pressured Vladimir Putin to reinstate it (with a completely Communism-free set of lyrics) in 2000.
Really, just about anything sung by the Red Army Choir qualifies as awesome. Even "Volga Boatman" — especially at 1:57 when the full choir comes in, or the roaring climax at 2:39. Absolutely spine-tingling.
Dyed in the wool Yankees can find "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" totally awesome. (There's a reason that "The Song That Gets On Everybody's Nerves" is set to the same tune...)
The Republic of Georgia can be proud to have as its national anthem "Tavisupleba" ("Freedom"), a short, sweet, and proudly Georgian anthem whose melody is based on classical opera tunes. Georgia's former anthem, "Dideba", which was used during the rather short-lived Democratic Republic of Georgia and later on after its independence from the Soviet Union is just as awesome as its present day counterpart.
The Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic had a national anthem written by Aram Khachaturian that far outclasses the present-day Armenian anthem. Probably because it was written by frickin' Aram Khachaturian.
Transnistria is by no means a recongised country, however, their national anthem, "We Sing the Praises of Transnistria" is a quite majestic, prideful anthem. Like South Africa's anthem, this is a multilingual anthem (Sung in Russian, Ukrainian, and Romanian (Moldovan Cyrillic)).
As for another partially recognised country, Abkhazia, they have a very special and beautiful anthem known as "Aiaaira" (Victory). Read the english lyrics of the first stanza:
March on, march on,
sons of Abkhazia!
Shed our blood
sons of Abkhazia!
Shed our blood
sons of Abkhazia!
Remember in Casablanca when the Germans got "Die Wacht am Rhein" drowned out by the French? Here it is, in the original version from the time of the Kaiser, a song too good to have been a Third Reich anthem.
Latin American anthems are very distinctive and operatic, to the point that nationalanthems.info had put them into a distinct category of national anthems called the Latin American Epic Anthems. And many of them truly deserve the word epic. They are usually identified as having a quick patriotic section of music, plus a slower stately part.
A balls-out awesome rendition at the 2014 World Cup. And since FIFA limits the duration of the music for national anthems, the last part is sung a cappella. For extra flavor, this match was against Spain, aka the country Chile got its independence from, aka then current world and European champions and the most dominant team in world football for the preceding six years. As a Spanish announcer said: one-nil.
The Swedish National Anthem "Du gamla Du fria" is worthy to join the ranks of the above. For it's the simple fact that unlike most other anthems mentioned here, the Swedish one focuses on the beauty of Scandinavia as a country and place to live, and not the superiority of any nationality, nor how the people of Scandinavia should prepare for war. The only part of the song that could be considered patriotic is when the lyrics focus on "Jag vill leva, jag vill dö i Norden!" ("I want to live, I want to die in the North/Nordic Region").
And even then it's not terribly patriotic as "Norden" is usually used to referee to the whole Nordic region and not just Sweden. The two later verses, added in 1910 after the song was criticized for being too vague and unpatriotic compared to (among others) Norway's, are much more patriotic but are usually not considered a part of the anthem and are therefore not often sung.
While it isn't precisely a national anthem, it's an anthem nonetheless: "The Internationale", the international anthem of the socialist movement. The music is stirring no matter what language is in (and since there are socialists everywhere, it's been in pretty much every language), but the best versions are in the original French and in Russian (it was the national anthem of the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1948). English versions are less awesome, as it is rather difficult to translate.
"So, comrades, come rally, for this is the time and plaaace..."
Egypt's anthem, "Bilady, Bilady, Bilady" is not epic in the usual sense: it was written by one of the leaders of the Egyptian folk-music scene, Sayyid Darwish. For those playing along at home, it's as though Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" was the US anthem (the title even translates to "My Country, My Country, My Country," which given the vagaries of Arabic could also mean, "My Land..."). Sung as a folk song, it's actually pretty cool; as an instrumental, it sounds like a fairly normal anthem, if a well-executed one.
Egypt's earlier anthem note also used by The United Arab Republic, as well as Iraq for some time"Walla Zaman Ya Selahi" ("It Has Been Ages, Oh Weapon"), is a grand and epic anthem, standing in contrast to "Bilady". Unlike Egypt's contemporary anthem which promotes peace and brotherhood, this anthem has rather violent and "revolutionary" overtones, similar in vein to the anthems of France, and Algeria.
Who shall protect Free Egypt? We shall protect her with our weapons! Land of the Revolution, who will sacrifice for her sake? We will, with our souls!
The people advance like the light, The people stand like mountains and seas, Volcanoes of anger, volcanoes erupting, Earthquakes digging the enemy into their graves.
Yet another anthem from Egypt whilst still a kingdom and British protectorate, "Eslami ya Misr" ("Be Safe, Oh Egypt").
Poland's anthem's title translates to "Poland Has Not Yet Perished". It was first written by the Polish soldiers of Bonaparte's armies during their campaigns, after Napoleon promised that he would restore them their Polish homeland, which had been partitioned by Austria, Prussia, and Russia. It rose to the fore in 1945, when Artur Rubinstein, a Polish pianist invited to play at the opening of the UN, seeing no Polish delegation and no Polish flag, played it instead of his planned lineup, to a standing ovation.
We'll cross the Vistula and the Warta, We shall be Polish. Bonaparte has given us the example, Of how we should prevail.
March, march, Dąbrowski, To Poland from the Italian land. Under your command, We shall rejoin the nation.
The Philippine national anthem is so awesome that through the decades it's been in Spanishnote the original language the anthem was in, English and currently Filipino.
Libya, Libya, Libya! What makes this song awesome is its pure jovialness in nature, a welcome change for a country liberated from 42 years of dictatorship, war from the US and NATO, and such. Gaddafi's anthem isn't half bad either.
Nigeria's national anthem, Arise O Compatriots. Very upbeat in nature, and one of the best African anthems, and really easy to play on a piano. Also the old anthem, Nigeria we hail thee. The melody is average, but the lyrics are more Nigerian.
Although it's not a national anthem anymore, the Austro-Hungarian anthem is, quite simply, beautiful.
The Mongolian anthem. Using electric guitars. That alone makes it awesome.
Any Turkic anthem is awesome, like Turkey's and Azerbaijan's. Then again, they also have the most awesome word in the world: Muvaffakiyetsizleştiricileştiriveremeyebileceklerimizdenmişsinizcesine (translated: "as though you are from those whom we may not be able to easily make into a maker of unsuccessful ones").
Syria's national anthem, Humat ad-Diyar (Guardians of the Homeland), is simply majestic. Pity it's so short.
Romania's anthem, "Desteapta-te, romane!" ("Wake up, Romanians!"), is impressive. It has 11 verses, with the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 11th being normally sung and the whole thing being sung (with a 21-gun salute) on national holidays. The one used during the Kingdom days, "Traiasca Regele" ("Long live the King"), isn't bad either.
Tanzania's anthem "Mungu ibariki Afrika" is basically a slightly modified Swahili version of "Nkosi sikelel iAfrika" and it's just as awesome.
"Aegukka", the national anthem of North Korea, is an absolutely marvelous, awe-inspiring national anthem. Ironically, it doesn't mention anything about the Kim family, Juche (Self-Reliance), nor Songun (Military First), which is probably why they place less emphasis on the anthem. Furthermore, Kim Jong-il's personal tune "No Motherland Without You" may not be the North Korean anthem, but it comes close enough.
The Brazilian National Anthem is known by both its beauty and the power of its composition and lyrics. It's written in very archaic and poetical Portuguese, resulting in one hell of a piece.
The national anthem of New Zealand, sung in the modern day both in Māori and English, is easily one of the most powerful national anthems there is. There are severalabsolutelymajesticrenditions on YouTube, mostly as performed at large sporting events.
"Le chant du départ", the national anthem of the first French Empire and current regional anthem of French Guiana. Popularized by Maximilien Robespierre, it was distributed to Revolutionary France's field armies during the beginning of the French Revolutionary Wars. It's a musical tableau, supposedly with each verse sung by a different group of French (ie, soldiers, children, mothers, etc). It's quite something. Another Bonapartist example is "La Victoire est à nous", the Grande Armée's Music to Invade Russia To.
"Mila Rodino", Bulgaria's national anthem. One of the most Ruritanian-sounding songs around, it contains the epic imagery of Bulgaria's mountains.
The national anthem of Ireland, "The Soldier's Song"/"Amhrán na bhFiann", is a very stirring and powerful piece of music, and sounds equally kick-ass whether it's sung in Irish or in English. The most awesome part is the Badass Boast at the very end: "Mid cannon's roar and rifle's peal.../We'll sing a soldier's song!"
The national anthem of China, known as the "March of the Volunteers", makes you wanna kick enemy ass and smash their stuff.
Singapore's "Majulah Singapura" ("Onward, Singapore") is very stirring and inspirational, especially the chorus. However, most Singaporeans today do not speak Malay, and thus don't really understand the meaning of the anthem. Nevertheless, it's only a minor flaw, and not the point of this page.
Most of the anthems with an unusual modality. The minor scale (e.g. Turkey, Bulgaria, etc.) is grandiose and majestic, the pentatonic scale (e.g. Bhutan, Kenya, etc.) has a feeling of tradition, and the two anthems left are Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, both awesome in their own, almost indescribable way.
Puerto Rico's national anthem, "La Borinqueña", has a moment of (possibly unintentional) Fridge Brilliance with the lyric "When at her beaches Columbus arrived/full of awe he exclaimed/Oh! Oh! Oh! This is the lovely land/that I seek." Although it may appear to be Artistic License – History since Columbus was looking for India, not Puerto Rico, he thought he was in India when he landed and thus may have actually exclaimed something to that effect.
The national anthem of Portugal, "A Portuguesa" (whose title is not mentioned, only implied, like in the case of "La Marsellaise"), which is about "raising once again today, / The splendor of Portugal". Bonus points if it's played at a rugby match or a football/soccer match.
Corsica's national anthem, "Dio vi salvi Regina", is both Darker and Edgier and a Tear Jerker due to its lyrics and the way it was sung (Warning: Due to this fact, this video will make you sad, if you watch this video, try not to cry).
For a small island nation, the people of Tonga can boast a pretty darn epic anthem. Bonus points if it's being played before a rugby match.