July 27 marks the beginning of the 30th Summer Olympic Games, meaning this will be the only XXX programming NBC will ever air. Dirty jokes about pole vaulting aside, the 2012 London Olympics serve a very important purpose: bringing all people of the world -- regardless of race, religion and nationality -- together to compete, to share our cultures and to hold one another's hair after wrongly assuming England's rich and storied history means they have edible food.
If you're a real American, this will provoke one of two responses: "Wait, why are we watching soccer?" or "S*** YEAH! USA! USA! SUCK IT, BELARUS!" And while both our endearing superiority complex and our inability to understand "el futbol" make us more awesome than any other people ever, we have to keep in mind the point of the Games.
So let's take a moment to learn about the other countries of the world through one of the most important statements they can make: their national anthem.
Anthem: La Marseillaise, "The Song of Marseille"
It isn't the graphic violence ("The impure blood waters the furrows of our fields") that makes La Marseillaise so surprising. Nor the prideful call to battle. It isn't even the eerily cheerful melody paired with some of the bloodiest imagery to be found in any patriotic work. No, the most shocking part of La Marseillaise is that it's French.
When You'll Hear It: Fencing, track, any movie where a group of Americans visits Europe to sleep with Europeans.
Anthem: Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu, "Oh God, You Are Our Strength"
The thing about Kenya is it doesn't have technology yet. That may be why it's impossible to find a vocal version of Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu online. Or maybe it's because not even Kenyans can pronounce the Swahili lyrics.
When You'll Hear It: The running one, the other running one, and most of the other running ones.
Anthem: God Save the Queen, "We Really Like Our Queen, Guys"
God Save the Queen is the most widespread national anthem in the world, sung from the United Kingdom, to Australia, to Jamaica, to Canada. When Mother England plants her flag in a country, she makes sure they say her name, nice and slow. At first blush, this seems like a really gooey love letter to Queen Liz. But the second verse is when shit gets really British. When a nation invokes God to "frustrate (your) knavish tricks," you best step off, son.
When You'll Hear It: The opening ceremonies, diving, when New Zealand wins something.
Anthem: Yiyongjun Jinxingqu, "March of the Volunteers"
As a citizen of the United States -- nay, of the world -- it may surprise and annoy you that China's national anthem is not "I'll Make A Man Out Of You" from Mulan. What, the song every single person who ever lived hums while working out isn't good enough for you? You thing Yiyongjun Jinxingqu is better? Well, we've got news for you, China -- it isn't. It's not even close. Your anthem sucks and you should hate yourself.
When You'll Hear It: Gymnastics, ping-pong, in the back of your head the next time you watch Mulan
Anthem: Gosudarstvenny Gimn Rossiyskoy Federatsii, "The Anthem of the Russian Federation"
In another world we might poke fun at what appears to be a nation-wide ban on creative names. In another world we might wink and nudge that Rossiya is a really transparent attempt to distance modern Russia from the former Soviet Union. In another world we might suggest that it's impossible to sing any Russian song without first drinking a fifth of Vodka. But this world has Vladimir Putin in it, and we like breathing. Slava v Rossii!
When You'll Hear It: Gymnastics, wrestling, the very moment Vladimir Putin impregnates your mother with Commie babies
Anthem: Kimigayo, "Kimigayo"
While you'd think a song that lasts only eleven measures would be short and sweet, you're underestimating the Japanese and their otherworldly willpower. Only the Japanese could make fifteen words about rocks last more than 60 seconds, leading everyone else in the world to wonder if they are really patient enough to enjoy Kimigayo, or if the Meiji period composers just wanted to add a final "f*** you" to foreigners after they were forced into globalization.
When You'll Hear It: The hot dog eating event, judo.
Anthem: O Say Can You See, "HELL YEAH! AMERICA!"
Holy shit! The swells! The imagery! The awesome! THIS! THIS is the kind of anthem all anthems should aspire to be! And it was written in a prison? Are you kidding me with this? This is the most American piece of music since God Save the Queen ripped off My Country Tis of Thee! Yes, Mr. Key, the star spangled banner DOES wave! Land of the Free, baby! HOME OF THE F****** BRAVE!
When You'll Hear It: How about ALL THE TIME ALWAYS? The United States is set to absolutely dominate the games this year, so warm up your vocals, practice putting your hand on your heart and SUCK IT, WORLD!