BBC vs ITV: The battle of the World Cup theme tunes

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2002: Japan & South Korea

If you thought the biggest shock of the 2002 World Cup was Senegal beating France, USA beating Portugal or England beating Argentina, you were wrong. It was, in fact, the role reversal that saw the BBC begin their shows with the thoroughly modern Tarantula, by Faithless, and ITV go for One Fine Day, taken from Japanese-themed opera Madame Butterfly.

Both channels mixed in plenty of vaguely-Oriental-sounding instruments, and crammed their videos with geishas, sumo wrestlers and shots of western businessmen drinking alone in hotels, just to ram the point home. You could not possibly forget this World Cup was in Japan. You maybe could forget it was in South Korea too, but you'd remember Japan. Definitely.

It's at least worth checking out the ITV intro to hear Matt Smith frantically whisper "watch out boys" to Ally McCoist, Robbie Earle, Andy Townsend and Clive Allen, who had presumably been discussing women's bits and ticket touting just moments before the cameras started to roll.


2006: Germany

The Beeb ticked a lot of the right boxes when it came to marking a big occasion in Germany. Handel - check; Brandenburg Gate - check; Michael Ballack seemingly on fire - che... Wait, hang on. Despite Herr Ballack's untimely demise - and Cristiano Ronaldo appearing in the clouds like Mufasa - the BBC effort hit the spot, combining international football with local culture. Brooding, yet fun - like Bradley Cooper.

The same can't be said for ITV's intro. Although the visual aspect was pretty snazzy, we're not quite sure what they were thinking with their awkward Kasabian cover of David Bowie's Heroes. Mercifully, some youngsters won't be familiar with the work of the Thin White Duke, and will therefore not be saddened by this limp imitation. More mercifully still, some younger readers also won't be familiar with Kasabian. The Leicester four-piece did as much to taint the 2006 World Cup as headbutt-happy Zizou, and should feel suitably ashamed.


2010: South Africa

Sure, 2006 may not have been a vintage year for ITV, but they roared back four years later, with the marginally less patronising effort of the two British broadcasters.

While the BBC opted for Rainbow Nation by Dallas Guild, ITV went for something a little more folky. They opted to use Pretoria-born singer Vusi Mahlasela's When You Come Back . The refrain of 'sing, sing Africa' was a real ear-worm and was repeated constantly throughout the tournament by anyone who wasn't too busy honking on a vuvuzela or shouting: "A GOAL FOR ALL AFRICA" at the top of their voice for no reason. In fact, the song was so popular with viewers in the UK it made a brief appearance on 'the hit parade' (at No.70 - yes, that still counts).


2014: Brazil

For the 2014 competiton, the Beeb plumped for Stevie Wonder's Another Star, citing its 'South American vibe', adding that the song "captures the feel-good, carnival atmosphere we will bring to our viewers".

ITV again went for something more local, with Brazilian artist Thiago Thome's recording of Aquarela do Brasil, a samba ditty originally composed by Ary Barroso back in 1939.

Stevie Wonder is great, but he isn't Brazilian and to FourFourTwo's knowledge has never expressed an interest in football...

Final score: BBC 3-5 ITV. Mark Pougatch has his paws on the cup. Gary Lineker sobs. Didier Drogba doesn't look at all bothered.

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