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World Cup Songs

June 23rd, 2006 by · No Comments · Features, Football

They would spend the weeks in the run up to the tournament applying horse liniment and Brylcreem, polishing their boots and sourcing extra long shorts. They may have even dreamed of lifting the trophy. What they did not do however was release onto an unwitting public a poorly written dirge that made various promises regarding the winning of said Cup.

As with mascots the earliest record (?) appears to have been ‘World Cup Willie’ released by Lonnie Donegan in 1966. This track failed to chart but, undaunted, the England world cup squad for Mexico 1970 followed up with ‘Back Home’ which even topped the charts in May 1970. Maybe it was the confidence that came with being the holders. Or it might have been the advent of colour television, jet powered air travel or short shorts and lightweight boots. Whatever the reason the first recording by a squad of footballers was the musical opening of Pandora’s box and there has been no going back since. It has now reached a point where the teams themselves now don’t get a look in.

The world cup is the perfect opportunity for the washed up, talent less or temporarily insane to release a ditty to support our boys. The intent may be to resurrect a failing career or to show that they are just like us in hoping that the boys finally do manage to string together seven or so consecutive great performances. Whatever the reasons it is an area of Chinese economy style growth. In 1970 there was a single single, the aforementioned ‘Back Home’, by 2002 the number of world cup related tracks had risen to an amazing twenty four.

Now not all of the above were directly linked to any one country. Some were tracks that were the theme music to various TV stations coverage and some were linked to add campaigns screened during the tournament. Fifteen songs however were released to help England go all the way, unfortunately none mentioned not jumping out of tackles or correct positioning for goalies at freekicks. ‘ Strong in tackle B’kham’ or ‘Watch flight o’ball over t’bar Seaman’ spring to mind with the benefit of hindsight but hindsight is 20/20 vision and if these lyrics were written they were written by a very obscure yet football minded bunch of druids from the planet Football Sanity.

England’s best tournament since ’66 was Italia 90 and it was also the year of World in Motion. WIM was a classic mix of singing footballers, or in the case of John Barnes rapping, and one of the world’s coolest groups in New Order. Unfortunately the lyrics weren’t exactly intellectual but compared to the general level of dross that is recorded on England’s behalf this may not be the lowest point of Keith Allen’s career. Allied with a slightly more operatic number from one of the home fans it became a soundtrack for some of the most nail biting auditions for pizza ads England had ever seen.

Fortunately we didn’t qualify for song writing duties in ’94 but went back to the grindstone for France 98 with a reworked ‘Three Lions’, from the maestros Baddiel and Skinner and the Lightening Seeds, which topped the charts and saw off competition from the talented (?) but fragile line up of the Spice Girls, Johnny Marr, Ian McCulloch and a few members of Ocean Colour Scene. It also saw off yet another piece of prose from Keith Allen in the form of Vindaloo, released by Fat Les. An actor, an artist and one of Blur teamed up to release its homage to the England fan.

All of which brings us to Germany 2006. Apparently we have an official anthem, not that I’ve hear it yet, and a ‘peoples anthem’ created by the listeners of Virgin Radio. I say created in the loosest sense of the word. It’s essentially a re-working of a not so classic punk track from a less than classic punk band. Jimmy Pursey is heard to suggest that ‘We Are Gonna Win The Cup’ to the tune of, go on guess,…………………. we are going down the pub.

If that is truly the best that the Great British Public could have come up with to spur the boys on then the results on the pitch are going to be a real reason to go down the pub. To drown the sorrows of an expectant nation let down by a reworking of old ideas, stale formulae and a general lack of creativity and I’m not just talking songs here either.


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