The Best National Anthem: O Canada Beats Out US, UK

Best National Anthem

The Huffington Post Canada   First Posted: 02/16/2012 1:54 pm Updated: 03/19/2012 9:41 pm

Right on the heels of National Flag Day, Canadians get confirmation of what we've always believed -- our national anthem is among the best.

At least, according to a new study commissioned by Sing-a-long-a Productions, the folks who put on such family-friendly fare as "Sing-A-Long-A Grease" (playing next weekend in Toronto) and "Sing-A-Long-A Sound Of Music."

Not a subject to be approached casually, the data was pulled together by the University of London's Dr. Alison Pawley, a musicologist and singing teacher, and Dr. Daniel Müllensiefen, a music psychologist, who analyzed eight national anthems to determine which ones most compelled listeners to join in.

While their list appears slightly skewed toward UK and European culture, with France's "La Marseillaise" and Wales' "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau/Land of My Fathers" taking the top two spots, "O Canada" lands squarely in the middle at number five, above both "The Star-Spangled Banner" (number six) and "God Save The Queen" (number seven).

"O Canada" had many versions during the country's evolution, but the one that's being lauded for its "sing-a-long-ability" came from a French poem written by Judge Adolphe-Basile Routhier and set to music by Calixa Lavallée in 1880. An English version was crafted by Montreal lawyer, Robert Stanley Weir, in 1908, but thanks to legal hold-ups, it wasn't officially made the national anthem until July 1, 1980.

Though "O Canada" has not been without its controversy in recent years, the widespread love for the song is likely thanks to the relative simplicity of its lyrics, the heart-pulling crescendoing of its tune and of course, the option for bilingualism.

The researchers had previously used their methods to figure out what made particular pop songs so catchy, hitting on results like "We are the Champions" and "Y.M.C.A."

WATCH: Some of the most memorable performances of O Canada ever:

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  • Maria Aragon

    Singer and Youtube sensation Maria Aragon sings 'O Canada' on Canada Day in 2011.

  • Melanie Fiona

    Canadian singer Melanie Fiona sings 'O Canada' at the 2011 NBA All Star Game.

  • Mark Donnelly

    "O Canada" performed by Mark Donnelly along with the Great Vancouver crowd in GM Place.

  • Equinox Quartet

    Equinox Quartet singing the "O Canada."

  • Geddy Lee

    Geddy Lee, member of rock band RUSH, sings the anthem for the 1993 All-Star Game.

  • Montreal Canadiens Fans

    'O Canada' as sung by the Habs fans at the Bell Centre.

  • Nikki Yanofsky

    Nikki Yanofsky singing the Canadian Anthem for the Vancouver 2010 opening ceremony.

  • Anne Murray

    Anne Murray sings both the American and Canadian national anthems, at a Toronto Blue Jays game on June 5, 1989.

  • Sarah McLachlan

    Sarah McLachlan singing the anthem in 1996.

  • Justin Bieber

    Justin Bieber sings a part of 'O Canada,' on the Lopez Tonight show.

  • Jann Arden

    Canadian singer and songerwriter Jann Arden singing O' Canada at the Grey Cup Game in Vancouver on Nov 27, 2011.

  • Alanis Morissette

    Alanis Morissette sings the anthem at the Stanley Cup Playoffs Finals in 2007.

  • Céline Dion

    Céline Dion sings 'O Canada' in 1992.

  • Edmonton Oilers Fans

    'O Canada' as sung by the Rexall crowd before the Oilers' Stanley Cup playoff game vs. The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2006.