O Canada ranks low in ‘sing-along-ability,’ but ahead of U.S., Brit anthems, researchers find

Steve Mertl
National Affairs Contributor
Daily Brew

Everybody loves that scene in the movie Casablanca when a resistance leader annoyed by Nazi officers singing a German marching song leads French citizens at Humphrey Bogart's club in a rousing rendition of La Marseillaise.

Now a British study raises the question of whether he'd be able to get a group of Canadians to belt out O Canada with the same verve.

The study by two university researchers found La Marseillaise, the French national anthem, topped a list of "sing-along-ability," while the Canadian anthem ranked behind those of Australia and Germany, the Toronto Star reported.

La Marseillaise, which originated with the French Revolution, scored 50.98 per cent, with the unofficial Welsh anthem second at 41.81 per cent. Advance Australia Fair was third at 36.03 per cent, the German anthem fourth at 31.53 per cent and O Canada was fifth at 31.53 per cent.

America's Star Spangled Banner was sixth at 30.35 per cent, followed by Britain's God Save the Queen at 30.22 per cent and the unofficial Scottish anthem was last at 25.84 per cent.

Musicologist Dr. Alisun Pawley and music psychologist Dr. Daniel Müllensiefen conducted the study that used 30 musical variables to analyze the anthems of six nation states and the unofficial anthems of Scotland and Wales. They used the data to generate a percentage "sing-along-ability" score and produce the rankings, according to BBC News.

The study was commissioned by the producers of Sing-a-long-a Productions, which stages sing-along versions of musicals such as Grease and the Sound of Music.

Previously, they studied how people sang along to pop songs at nightclubs in northern England. Queen's We are the Champions topped that chart, followed by YMCA by the Village People. Canadian band Sum 41 with their song Fat Lip from 2001 came in third.

The experts didn't explain why Canada trailed France, Germany and Australia among official anthems. Commentators were more concerned with God Save the Queen finishing behind the Welsh anthem.

Welsh-born opera singer Wynne Evans told the BBC that Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau is his favourite because "it's got such a great tune."

"It's very singable for the first half and then we get the 'Gwlad, Gwlad' where you can really let rip and really show your nation's pride," said Evans.

"As someone once said to me, it doesn't matter what you sing as long as there's a big finish and that's exactly what the Welsh national anthem has."

The British anthem, Pawley said. "is written in a way that doesn't invite high chest voice singing for most people's voices. And it lacks a real hook or climax where people feel compelled to join in or belt it out."

(Reuters photo)