The Most Popular South African Song: Ranking the Ultimate Crowd Favorite

Choose the song you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Apr 16, 2024 07:36
Welcome to StrawPoll, the ultimate destination for music fanatics! We're excited to unveil our latest ranking - "What is the most popular South African song?" This vibrant and diverse nation has gifted the world with countless toe-tapping, heart-pounding, and soul-stirring tunes, and now it's time for you to have your say. Dive into our carefully curated list of South African hits, spanning multiple genres and decades, and vote for your all-time favorite or suggest a missing gem. Will it be a beloved classic that takes the top spot or a fresh new track that captures the spirit of modern South Africa? The choice is yours! Join the musical adventure now and make your voice heard on StrawPoll - where every vote counts, and the rhythm of South Africa comes alive.

What Is the Most Popular South African Song?

  1. 1
    This 1967 song became a global hit and is still a beloved classic today. Its catchy chorus and Makeba's soulful vocals make it a timeless masterpiece.
    Pata Pata is a popular South African song performed by Miriam Makeba. It is a lively and infectious Afro-pop song that combines catchy melodies with rhythmic African beats. The song was originally released in 1957 but gained international acclaim when it was re-recorded and released in 1967. Pata Pata is known for its upbeat tempo and joyful lyrics that celebrate dance and togetherness.
    • Genre: Afro-pop
    • Release Year (original): 1957
    • Re-recorded Release Year: 1967
    • Language: English, Xhosa
    • Lyricist: Miriam Makeba
  2. 2
    This anthem for Nelson Mandela, released in 1987, became a rallying cry for the anti-apartheid movement and a symbol of hope for a new South Africa. Its fusion of Zulu and Western music styles is a signature of Clegg's work.
  3. 3
    This 2020 song took the world by storm with its infectious beat and dance challenge. Its uplifting message of faith and unity resonated with people around the globe during the pandemic.
  4. 4
    This 1960 song introduced the distinctive "click" sounds of the Xhosa language to Western audiences and helped Makeba become an international star. Its joyful rhythm and Makeba's exuberant performance make it a classic.
    The Click Song, also known as Qongqothwane, is a popular South African song that became a signature piece for the renowned singer Miriam Makeba. It carries significant cultural and historical value for South Africans and has gained international recognition for its unique blend of traditional African rhythms and modern sounds.
    • Genre: Afro-pop, world music
    • Language: Xhosa
    • Release Date: 1963
    • Album: The World of Miriam Makeba
    • Length: 2 minutes and 14 seconds
  5. 5
    This 1994 song, which means "coal train" in Zulu, is a powerful tribute to the migrant workers who toiled in South Africa's mines. Its haunting melody and Masekela's soulful trumpet playing make it a poignant masterpiece.
  6. 6
    This traditional song, originally sung by South African miners, has become a popular anthem for sports teams and patriotic events. Its rousing chorus and call-and-response structure make it a crowd-pleaser.
    Shosholoza is a popular South African song that originated in the gold mines during the late 19th century. It has since become a well-known traditional song in the country, often performed at sporting events and cultural celebrations. The word 'shosholoza' is an Nguni term meaning 'to push forward' or 'to go forward'. The song is characterized by its rhythmic and lively melody, accompanied by call-and-response vocals.
    • Genre: Traditional
    • Language: Zulu and Ndebele
    • Year of Origin: Late 19th century
    • Meaning of 'Shosholoza': 'To push forward' or 'to go forward'
    • Usage: Often performed at sporting events and cultural celebrations
  7. 7

    "Mbube" by Solomon Linda

    Solomon Linda
    This 1939 song, also known as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," has been covered by countless artists and used in films and commercials. Its simple melody and lyrics capture the essence of African folk music.
    Mbube is a popular South African song that was composed by Solomon Linda in the 1920s. It became widely known worldwide through different versions, such as 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight.' The song is characterized by its beautiful harmonies and lively rhythm.
    • Genre: Mbube
    • Year: 1920s
    • Language: Zulu
    • Famous Versions: The Lion Sleeps Tonight
    • Lyrics: Zulu lyrics are emotional and poetic
  8. 8
    This 2015 song became a massive hit in South Africa and beyond, thanks to its romantic lyrics and catchy chorus. Its fusion of pop and African rhythms makes it a modern classic.
    Nomvula by Nathi Mankayi is a popular South African song that was released in 2015. It quickly became a hit and gained widespread recognition across the country. The song is sung in the Xhosa language and has a soulful and uplifting melody.
    • Year of release: 2015
    • Language: Xhosa
    • Genre: Afrosoul
    • Duration: 4 minutes and 29 seconds
    • Album: Buyelekhaya
  9. 9
    This 2000 song, which means "big boss" in Zulu, became a cultural phenomenon and helped popularize kwaito music. Its infectious beat and Mandoza's streetwise lyrics make it a classic of South African hip hop.
    Nkalakatha is a popular South African song that was released in 2000. It is a Kwaito genre song which combines elements of hip-hop with traditional South African music. The song is known for its catchy melody and energetic beats that make it a party favorite. Nkalakatha also features lyrics in Xhosa, one of South Africa's official languages, adding to its cultural significance. The song became a massive hit in South Africa and helped Mandoza, the creator of the song, gain widespread recognition in the music industry.
    • Release year: 2000
    • Genre: Kwaito
    • Language: Xhosa
    • Popularity: Massive hit in South Africa
    • Influences: Hip-hop, traditional South African music
  10. 10
    This 1973 song, which means "the birds of the forest" in Zulu, helped establish Ladysmith Black Mambazo as one of the most important vocal groups in South Africa. Its intricate harmonies and gentle rhythms make it a soothing masterpiece.
    Izinyoni Zomgqashiyo is a popular South African song performed by the renowned vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The song is characterized by its beautiful harmonies, energetic vocal arrangements, and traditional Zulu influences. It showcases Ladysmith Black Mambazo's signature a cappella style and carries a joyful and uplifting message.
    • Genre: Isicathamiya
    • Language: Zulu
    • Release year: 1984
    • Album: Ukusindiswa
    • Length: 4:33

Missing your favorite song?


Ranking factors for popular song

  1. Commercial success
    how much airplay the song has received on radio and television, and how many copies it has sold.
  2. Charts
    the position of the song on local and international music charts.
  3. Streaming
    how many streams the song has received on platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube.
  4. Cultural impact
    how much the song has influenced culture, become part of a national conversation, and been used to represent South Africa both domestically and internationally.
  5. Awards and accolades
    whether the song has won or been nominated for local and international music awards.
  6. Critical acclaim
    opinion of music critics and its reception in general.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular South African song. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or song is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 151 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each song once every 24 hours. The rank of each song is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most popular south african song

South Africa is a country known for its rich cultural heritage and diverse music scene. From traditional tribal music to modern pop hits, South African music has captured the hearts of millions around the world. With so many talented musicians and singers, it can be hard to pinpoint the most popular South African song. However, through countless polls and rankings, we have narrowed down the contenders and are excited to share the results with you. So sit back, relax, and get ready to discover the most beloved South African tunes of all time.

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