In an idea that was clearly met with ‘Isn’t that a bit Band Aid?’, the BBC had to cover up any suggestion that they’d run out of ideas, by forcing themselves to go all out ‘Band Aid’ with the new England World Cup 2014 song, supported by Sport Relief. But without any real household names, indicative perhaps of the desperation of the idea, it’s a bit of a flop. It’s hard to imagine burly men in pubs singing to each other: The future is ours to find / Can you see it, can you see it in my eyes, tonight? unless they were discussing the amount of Carling they’d poured into them following a disappointing 1-1 draw with Costa Rica and were wondering if they’d be able to fool a policeman into thinking they weren’t drink-driving.
The funniest bit though is when Gary Linkear and Gary Barlow hold a fake (I presume, but who really knows?) phone conversation. Barlow puts down the phone and Linekar finishes the segment still holding the phone to his ear. Comedy gold, back of the net, you can’t teach that.
Lad Chanting Potential: 0
Genuine Good Song Score: 3 (oh come on, its not that bad)
As a result, here’s the top 4 England World Cup songs ever. Officially. Conclusively.
4) New Order – World in Motion
Chart Position: 1
Bernard Sumner clearly knows nothing about football. One can imagine him straining back to his schoolboy days of trying to pretend to know about football when writing the lyrics, for they all fit into the category of: ‘Things People Who Don’t Know Anything About Football Shout At Football’. Here goes:
“Express yourself, create the space, you know you can win, don’t give up the chase, beat the man, take him on, you never give up, its one on one”
It’s essentially awkward-man-bingo, and we’ve all heard at least all of them being shouted in a pub. Originally it was to be called ‘E for England’ (one suspects this was Keith ‘King of the Football Anthem’ Allen’s input), but was vetoed by the FA for fairly obvious drug related reasons.
The song holds true to New Order’s classic synth sound, with a floating keyboard melody never intruding and for that reason preserves itself as one of the only football anthems you might consider putting on when the footballs not.
Lad Chanting Potential: 5 (bonus points for indie-lad-ironic-yet-hiding-true-footballing-panache chanting)
Genuine Good Song Score: 7
3) Fat Les – Vindaloo
Chart Position: 2
Sometimes the Groucho Club closes. When that happens, the inhabitants have to crawl out and find something else to do. This can only be excused as the result of an intense hang-over meeting between contributors Keith Allen, Alex James, Damien Hirst, Rowland Rivron et al. Capturing the zeitgeist (worst phrase ever) of what football anthems should be about, they mock pretty much everything going, from The Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ video to the very concept of a verse in a kind of cynical yet humorous British take on the world which prevents any true deconstruction of motive due to a whimsical failure to deal with any real matter – a concept which has essentially held together the form of the ‘British Man’ since everything started falling apart, y’know, Empire-wise.
From the ‘na na na’, to the classic ‘we’re gonna score one more than you’, it is certified Lad Factor 10.
Lad Chanting Potential: 10
Genuine Good Song Score: 8 (don’t care, I make the rules, its an 8)
2) Spice Girls and England United (How Does It Feel To Be) On Top Of The World
Chart Position: 9
Watch out: Curveball alert! We have found the perfect recipe for the football anthem: Great songwriters matched with pop culture icons. The combination of Echo and The Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch and Ocean Colour Scene’s Simon Fowler creates a truly British feel, the introspection of the former matched with the more confident and grounded resonance of British rock in the latter. Flavoured perfectly by the addition of the Spice Girls (you can’t have the 90s without the Spice Girls, its the law) and you have a perfect song willing to be sung by anyone. Almost. Despite a chart success, the song has since suffered a critical backlash, it would be unlikely to hear it sung on the terraces, and qualified music journalists Ian Wright and Rio Ferdinand described it as ‘bollocks’, so thats enough reason to have it this high up the list.
Lad Chanting Potential: 2
Genuine Good Song Score: 9
1) Baddiel, Skinner & Lightning Seeds – Three Lions ‘98
Chart Position: 1
More fuller than the 1996 original which seemed a little limp and underproduced, this version has an increased buoyancy, which was perhaps misplaced given England were duly knocked out before the Quarter Finals in the year it was released. Maybe its the descending bass line, maybe the harpsichord, but this song has the power to bring full grown men all over the country to tears
Also Frank Skinner seems to be a genuinely good singer, and this was back in 1998, before things like technology could make Shearer sound like Shakira.
Lad Chanting Potential: 10
Genuine Good Song Score: 10