Disclaimer: Yes I am biased, but I’ve tried to set my personal feelings aside as much as I can. I’ve graded based on gravitas, solemnity, ability to invoke patriotic feelings etc. I’ve also tried to exclude political affinity and my own national pride(s). E.g. I have serious issues with the UK’s lyrics, yet I rate the song highly.
#1. The Russian (Soviet) National Anthem. I don’t understand a word they sing, but the song, particularly when paired with the imagery of WWII (which the Soviet Union bore the brunt of, at the very least in terms of casualties, in the fight against Germany), is extremely powerful. For this purpose I don’t give a fuck about Stalin’s nasty side. An indisputable #1.
#2. The Norwegian National Anthem: Yes, I’m heavily biased, but, this version at least (choir only, no pompous orchestral arrangements), elevates the song to a clear 2nd place IMO. It’s not so much about being the best in the world as it is about prevailing in the face of overwhelming adversity, and is indicative of the spirit that gives Norwegians the honor of awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the world (as laughable as that has become since giving it to the war-chieftain-in-command Barack Hussein Obama). To me it’s goose-bump inducing as fuck. If you have no connection to Norway, your mileage may vary.
#3. The UK National Anthem. As I indicated, I have serious issues with the worship of a monarch, but the tune succeeds in evoking nationalistic feelings of superiority, which I guess is the intention when you’re a world power in serious decline, but still harbor delusions of grandeur on the global stage (I speak from a position of having observed Brits in their natural habitat for quite some time). The pomposity and arrogance has no match.
#4/#5. I’m splitting this one between Germany and the USA. Germany, if they hadn’t chickened out and changed the “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles” bit cuz national guilt, would have edged ahead of the Yanks, perhaps even the Brits. The ‘muricans (again, I’m biased, this being my song) get less love than the others because it’s a tad show-tuney in a cocky/NKOTB kinda way (lacking in gravitas). I know from personal experience that Americans are quite rabid about their national anthem, playing/singing it at all sorts of events that the rest of the world finds curious, equating standing with your hand on your heart, stonefaced, at a baseball game while some pop star with piss-poor pitch belts out the song, with patriotism. Perhaps a sign of a young nation’s insecurity in manifest destiny and American exceptionalism.
I’m sure there are many great national anthems I haven’t even heard of. Please point them out to me as I’m always eager to learn. (The Swedish and Danish national anthems are jokes, BTW, as is the Sámi soga lávlla & the new-fangled Black national anthem in America. I feel that needed to be said.)
I hope sincerely that the British and Norwegian monarchies (along with any other such idiocy, wherever it may manifest itself) die out when the current monarchs, queen Elizabeth and king Harald, die, as it is my firm belief that monarchism in the 21st century is an anachronistic abomination, and anyone who doesn’t see the absurdity of a hereditary Head of State dynasty is blind, dazed and confused beyond reason.