All real world and some NationStates countries have national anthems, whether consisting of music alone or lyrics as well. The anthem or hymn is a musical representation of the country and often includes references to themes or places dear to the hearts of its citizens, such as the Czech Repubic’s “Kde domov můj?” (“Where Is My Home?”); or cherished national symbols, such as the United States' "The Star-Spangled Banner."
For a variety of reasons, many RL countries have troubles selecting an appropriate tune, appropriate words or both for their national anthems and patriotic songs. Most anthems have been officially adopted, but some -- like "O Canada" -- were adopted much later than their common use. Many countries additionally have national songs or patriotic songs which fulfill many of the functions of national anthems but have lower status if sometimes more recognition. Some countries hedge their bets by have two or more anthems, such as RL New Zealand’s “God Defend New Zealand” (with English and Maori lyrics) and “God Save the Queen.”
Some famous composers have been commissioned to write national anthems, but most often a composer's work is retroactively adopted. The RL European Union uses Ludwig van Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" (also known as "To Joy") as an instrumental without Friederich Schiller’s original words because choosing lyrics would be impossible in a multilingual confederation. The aspirant state of RL Biafra adopted of Jean Sibelius' "Finlandia," under the name “Land of the Rising Sun” (not to be confused with Japan).
Several popular national anthems have had their music adopted by more than one country, most notably “God Save the Queen” (not the Sex Pistols song). It originated in RL Britain, where it has never been formally adopted, but has been used by the RL United States which rebelled against it and RL Liechtenstein which has no obvious connection to the UK at all.
Inappropriate or outdated words have proven to be more problematic for actual and proposed national anthems for a number of reasons. For instance, "Waltzing Matilda" is a very distinctively Australian tune but was discounted in favour of the fairly bland "Advance Australia Fair" because nobody wants a national anthem about a suicidal poacher.
Similarly, most verses of the Weimar-era German national anthem suggest the borders of the German nation which are at odds with current international boundaries. The "Maple Leaf Forever" served for many decades as Canada's de facto national anthem, but its fine tune was rendered inappropriate because of its jingoistic and anglocentric lyrics.
Others take an existing tune and add suitable lyrics, such as white secessionist Rhodesia's adoption of "Ode to Joy" with new lyrics. In the case of the “God Save the Queen (or King)” used outside the Commonwealth of Nations, the music is played with new lyrics to suit the country, as in the popular patriotic hymn "My Country 'Tis of Thee" in the United States. Ariddia, a socialist country, has adopted the tune of the Communist "Internationale", but with unique Ariddian lyrics.
National anthems may be used for a wide variety of purposes. Within the NS world, they are used most prominently at the start of football matches (notably during the World Cup), and during the Olympic Games whenever an athlete wins a gold medal for his or her country.