We ranked every national anthem

Braden Hajer, Copy Editor & Columnist

You can find a written list of the national anthem tiers by clicking on the image.

Yes, you read that right. Over the course of two months, two friends and I listened to and then ranked every single national anthem and then some. It was as time-consuming and complex as you’d think. This legitimately may be the most comprehensive overview of the national anthems ever created, so for this piece, let me try to answer as many questions as I can anticipate you having.

Why did you do this?

To keep an uninteresting story short, I was working on a project on Niger earlier this year for AP Human Geography. Part of that project had me listen to the anthem and look at the lyrics. I remarked to some of my friends that it was not very good and also how hard it was to find a quality version of it. The first friend suggested we rank every anthem, and I laughed it off. Then a second friend said the same to me in an unrelated conversation, and from there it was destiny.

“The first friend suggested we rank every anthem, and I laughed it off. Then a second friend said the same to me in an unrelated conversation, and from there it was destiny.”

How did you rank them structurally?

We used the tier list system. For those who have never heard of it, I explained it in the intro to my Westworld series, but it is essentially a series of categories of quality. The top tier contains the highest quality anthems, and as you descend they are overall worse in our opinion. Within these tiers, they are also ordered. The top left country is the best in that tier, and the bottom right the worst. 

What is the “Stole Anthem” tier?

This tier is at the bottom not because the anthems are bad necessarily, but rather as a punishment for a nation or organization committing the gravest sin imaginable  — not composing its own anthem and stealing it from someone else. That’s lame and they should feel bad (you do not get to call “Ode to Joy” your anthem, EU).

What criteria did you use to rank these?

Ultimately, it was arbitrary, but we kept quite a few things in mind. We listened through the anthem (or a verse or two if it just repeated the same music) and discussed amongst ourselves how much we liked it. When there wasn’t a clear consensus on where a country should go (this almost never happened), we compromised on a place to put the country. In terms of factors we considered, originality was a big one  — a lot of anthems are just boring marches. Anthems that aren’t boring marches get props. We also gave extra points to any anthem whose lyrics were multilingual. Two things we did not consider though: lyrical content and audio quality. Also, to be clear, this list is not a reflection of our thoughts on any country in any way. It is exclusively about the music of the anthem itself.

How did you decide which version of each anthem to use, and where can I see these?

I cared about this point immensely throughout this process. For any given country, were we using the instrumental? A vocal version? If so, which one? To me, it felt distinctly disingenuous to not specify what we used. As such, I took it upon myself to compile the list of YouTube links used, which you can see here. Ian Berwick’s playlist was a godsend, and we used that whenever possible. After we went through those, though, we simply tried to find and choose the version that would give a country the best possible shot. Every one of these has a boring march version, so we tried to avoid that whenever possible. However, for some nations, a high-quality version of the anthem with vocals sadly just doesn’t exist. For those, we often chose the instrumental over a terribly-recorded and performed version. We recognize that we may have missed some gems of recordings here and there that may have changed our opinions, but that’s just how it goes. 

How do I know what these flags are?

Don’t worry, I also could not name what a lot of these are, even after doing this. This website is a really helpful guide, and it should have almost all of these. If you can’t find it in there, leave a comment below and I can answer for you.

Why are there some flags here that aren’t countries?

Indeed, we ranked a number of self-governing territories and some regions with even less autonomy than that. This was for two reasons:

  1. The list we used had them, so why not?
  2. A number of those anthems ended up being great, and thus worth ranking (Scotland and Puerto Rico come to mind)

Where can I create a list like this myself? Should I? 

Nobody was asking this, but you can do it here. And honestly, I don’t know if I’d recommend doing this. Definitely give everything in A- and up a listen, and maybe the D tiers and below if you hate yourself, but we spent over 20 hours working on this project. Most of that was spent negotiating with each other and listening to really mediocre music. I don’t regret it one bit, but I’m a music nerd with a lot of time on my hands. To suggest to the average person that this is a thing worth doing would feel wrong. I won’t actively discourage you, though. Go nuts.

Which anthems are some of the standouts?

 It would indeed be a crime to present this list to you and not talk about some of the highlights. I have a lot of thoughts about a lot of anthems, but I’ll keep it to five of the most notable ones. 

The Best


We had no expectations either way when we went into this one, so when we listened to it our jaws literally dropped. It stands proudly in its own tier at the top of the list. This piece is a legitimate masterpiece and an absolute joy to listen to. It’s a multi-movement epic of an anthem, elegantly weaving between all sorts of moods, sections and tempos. You are not ready for this one.


We went into this list fully expecting Russia to top the list. It’s an anthem so powerful, it has the rare ability to make you feel patriotic for a country you’ve never been to. You know from the opening chord you’ve got something special on your hands, and Russia does not disappoint.


India’s anthem has the strongest sense of place out of any anthem. Argentina’s may be far superior as a song, but Argentina’s anthem doesn’t feel like Argentina. Were I to play you India’s anthem, you would probably guess India nearly immediately. It’s ambient, tranquil and sweet. A delight of a piece, even if it isn’t bringing the house down like some of the ones above it. 

The Worst


Japan’s anthem is over 1,000 years old, which is approximately how long the song feels as well. It’s… sooo… slooow. By the way, read the Wikipedia page for this anthem sometime, it’s a fascinating story about government-mandated patriotism. Going in, we thought for sure this anthem would be the worst, and we expected it to be the only F tier, until…


This anthem makes me very sad. It’s mind-numbing in a way that’s both painful and really funny, but do not listen to it. And no, don’t use me warning you as secondary exigence to fulfill your masochistic fantasies, either. Once it’s in your head, you will desperately want it out, and you will realize that it wasn’t worth it. Just trust me.