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“French Navy” and Other Suggestions for Scotland’s New National Anthem

EDM, art rock, indie ballads … let’s pretend it’s all on the table if Scotland votes for independence.

If Thursday’s historic vote goes the way the International Man hopes it won’t, Scotland will join the likes of India, the United States, (sorta, kinda) Australia, and Canada as the latest country to ditch the British Empire. As an American myself, I thought, until this week, that the Scottish achieved independence during that part in Braveheart when Mel Gibson screams “freedom” real loud. But the powers that be are pretty shook up at the potential conscious uncoupling of a three-century union.

If Scotland votes for independence, however, the good news is that all they really need to do to win the hearts and minds of the world at large is choose a sweet-ass jam for their national anthem, and fortunately for Scotland, one thing they’ve never had a shortage of is killer tunes. Behold, just a few of the possible choices. (Note: Though Glasgow’s Belle & Sebastian are one of Scotland’s finest exports, they aren’t included here because the world just isn’t ready for a twee national anthem. [See also: Close Lobsters, Travis].)

\nThe Proclaimers — “Im Gonna Be (500 Miles)”\n

This chart-topper from the soundtrack to 1993’s Benny & Joon is listed first for good reason. Quite frankly, this is exactly what the world wants from you, Scotland. How far are you willing to go to prove that you can make it on your own? Five hundred miles? How about 500 more? Then put your independence where your mouth is and let the Reid twins do the talking for you.

\nAC/DC — “It's a Long Way to the Top If You Wanna Rock ‘N Roll”\n

If you want to argue that AC/DC is an Australian band, not a Scottish one, just tell me again which song of theirs has the didgeridoo solo. Not only does this remind the world of the lengthy, arduous road to Scottish independence, it does so with bagpipes, Scotland’s national instrument. Plus, it’s way easier to air guitar to than “Flower of Scotland” or “Scotland the Brave.”

The Beta Band — “Dry the Rain”

“I will now sell five copies of The Three EPs by the Beta Band.” Remember that scene from High Fidelity? Odds are today’s college students don’t. According to a sobering set of facts I just made up, today’s college students were not only born after the movie High Fidelity was released on DVD, they’ve never even heard the words “high” and “fidelity” together before! Think of it, Scotland. You could introduce the scruffy, hypnotic charm of Edinburgh’s Beta Band to a whole new generation of hipsters. It’s hella hard to raise questions about a country’s impact on global economic stability while you’re trying desperately to Shazam its national anthem.

Wet Wet Wet — “Love Is All Around”

This Clydebank quartet’s 1994 cover of the Troggs’ hit would be a great choice for two reasons: (1) It offers the kind of positive, humanitarian message of peace the world needs to hear nowadays. (2) It features the kind of on-point, four-part male harmonizing that, for some reason, makes people ready to forgive almost anything.

Camera Obscura — “French Navy”

Seems counterintuitive to pick a song called “French Navy” as the Scottish national anthem, but hear me out. It’s no secret Scotland is coming out of a 307-year relationship, and this song by Glasgow’s Camera Obscura is the best “I can handle my shit” anthem this side of Beyoncé. Speaking of Scottish break-up songs, Frightened Rabbit’s “Keep Yourself Warm” and Simple Minds’ “Don't You (Forget About Me)” are obviously two of the finest gems in the genre, but we’re trying to convey independence and moving forward, not tearful rom-com movie marathons and ice cream-stained sweatpants.

Talking Heads — “Once in a Lifetime”

Yes, the band formed in New York City and David Byrne’s parents moved him from Dumbarton to Canada before he was likely capable of forming memories of his birthplace, but just think about it. A stadium full of people, hands over hearts, exclaiming the following, in unison: “This is not my beautiful wife!”, “Look where my hand was!”, “My god, what have I done?” It’s high time anthems went avant-garde.

Rustie — “After Light”

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Hi there, independence movement leader Alex Salmond. I’m sure you’ve been reading this list for inspiration, and (full disclosure) not all of these suggestions have been 100 percent serious. Here, at last, is a take-it-to-the-bank, fail-safe suggestion. I said the world isn’t ready for a twee national anthem, but you know what the world is ready for? A national anthem with a sick drop. A national anthem with incomprehensible chipmunk-soul vocals, seemingly inspired by helium and executed by GarageBand. In short, a national anthem that you can groove to when you’re gone on that molly. This is really what people want from their country these days. Don’t blame me, I’m not the one giving 16-year-olds the right to vote.

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