"Wavin' Flag" is a song by Somali-Canadian artist K'naan from his album Troubadour. The song was originally written for Somalia and aspirations of its people for freedom. The original single was a hit in Canada and reached #2 on the Canadian Hot 100 as the third official single from the album, after the singles "ABCs" and "Bang Bang", which were minor hits.
After a devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, a remake of the song by an ad hoc supergroup of Canadian artists, credited as Young Artists for Haiti, became a charity single in Canada, reaching #1 on the Canadian Hot 100 in its own right. The song became a truly global hit when it was chosen as Coca-Cola's promotional anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, hosted by South Africa. This amended international version with additional lyrics reached the top ten in more than twenty different charts around the world. The English version was released as "Wavin' Flag (Celebration Mix)" by K'naan to differentiate it from the original Canadian hit or from the Canadian Haiti charity hit. The Spanish cover featuring David Bisbal became very popular. A version of the song featuring will.i.am and David Guetta was targeted for international markets. Many other bilingual and country-specific versions were released.
In 2012, K'naan published a children's book, When I Get Older: The Story Behind Wavin' Flag, about the song and its history.
The original single of "Wavin' Flag" appeared originally on his album Troubadour. The single reached #2 on the Canadian Hot 100 as the third official single from the album, which was produced by Kerry Brothers, Jr. and Bruno Mars. K'naan first performed the song acoustically live on Q TV, where he gave viewers a preview of Troubadour prior to its release. The lyrics of the original version are about the struggle of refugees displaced by war, with references to K'naan's native Somalia, in comparison to the later version used for the World Cup, where the lyrics were rewritten in a more celebratory tone.
Coca-Cola described the remix as "inspired by the joyous dance celebrations familiar to Africa." Coca-Cola integrated its jingle, well known from previous Coca-Cola commercials, into the mix, generating a direct association between the remixed song and the brand. New lyrics related to football were added, “let’s rejoice in the Beautiful Game”, and “see the champions take the field.” A music video shows people playing the game, and goal celebrations. The song was used throughout the tournament, and featured on all worldwide versions of the Coca-Cola campaign. The song was also played at events for the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour, where K'naan performed this version live for the first time, and featured on the online digital platform for the World Cup. He also performed at the World Cup kick-off concert. The music video for the remix includes a guest appearance by Malhar Chitnis. The remix video was recorded in Estadio Centenario in Montevideo, the site of the first 1930 FIFA World Cup Final. The remix version appears on the Champion Edition of Troubadour.
Although the remix features many elements of the original song, it includes most notably a new pre-chorus that sets the uplifting, unified tone of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, turning the song into one that is more open, more inviting and more celebratory. "I'm so proud of this [new] version," K'naan told Billboard.Biz. The new version also removes many of the darker lyrics of the original song. According to Billboard, Coca Cola "loved the song but noted that lyrical references to 'a violent prone, poor people zone' and people 'struggling, fighting to eat' didn't fit the campaign's themes".
We took something like 50 drums and did this crazy mix for it. It's about the one time that we all get together and the world forgets its conflict and its problems and we focus on this unity and celebration. That moment is connected now to 'Wavin' Flag.'
A remix of "Wavin' Flag", which features French music producer David Guetta and American rapper, producer and The Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am, was made for international release outside of Canada. Will.i.am's solo parts were exclusively written for the international version, and for the K'naan part, some of the lyrics were amended. his version of the song was mixed by hit engineer Dylan "3-D" Dresdow. This version was later released as the B-side to the Celebration Mix. The maxi-single CD also included the Spanish adaptation with the Spanish language verses written by Rafael Vergara and interpreted by David Bisbal.
"Wavin' Flag" (Celebration Mix) (featuring will.i.am & David Guetta)
N. Van De Wall
Kerry "Krucial" Brothers
"Wavin' Flag" (Spanish Celebration Mix) (featuring David Bisbal)
"Wavin' Flag" (album version)
Kerry "Krucial" Brothers
The version featuring will.i.am and David Guetta was released as the single B-side to "Wavin' Flag (Celebration Mix)" single release in Europe.
A separate music video was made for this version, with the artists performing in front of a large black flag. However some scenes were used from the original Canadian music video and from K'naan's "Wavin' Flag (The Celebration Mix)" music video intertwined with visuals of the new video.
Wavin' Flag (Spanish Celebration Mix) by K'naan and David Bisbal
Many bilingual versions of the Celebration Mix have been made, for use in each of their respective countries. The initial bilingual version was recorded by K'naan and Spanish singer David Bisbal, sung in both English and Spanish, and targeting all Spanish-speaking markets, including Spain, Mexico, Central and South America. This version was entitled the "Spanish Celebration Mix", and was officially made available for digital download in February 2010. As a part of the promotion, a music video of the Spanish Celebration Mix was filmed and released for the song. Another version sung in both English and Arabic, featuring Nancy Ajram, a multi-platinum Lebanese singer and spokesperson for Coca-Cola Middle East, was released in all Middle Eastern Countries. This version, entitled the "Arabic Celebration Mix", also had a music video recorded for it. Scenes were filmed in Denmark, Portugal, Brazil, Lebanon and South Africa. A Chinese version, featuring Jacky Cheung and Jane Zhang, reached #1 on China Music Chart., and a Thai version, featuring Tattoo Colour, charted at #3 there.