With every major footballing Championship comes a major footballing song. We’ve had some cult hits, some shockers and some that will stay in the memory forever. So with Euro 2012 approaching next summer, roll back the glory years and remember some of England’s greatest songs. And some of the worst.
- Baddiel/Skinner/Lightning Seeds – Three Lions. Chart Position: 1. ‘Everyone seems to know the score…’ Well they do with this song, any football fan who doesn’t know the lyrics for this timeless classic should hang up their microphones and take up hockey or some other meaningless sport people only hear about when the Olympics are on. So generic, it isn’t even worth describing, it’s become England’s official anthem and still makes the hair stand on the back of anyone’s necks whenever they hear it. If only football would bloody well come home.
- England World Cup Squad – Back Home. Chart Position: 1. England jetted off to Mexico to defend their position as World Champions and produced a champion song to see them off. The squad showed that their vocal ability ranked alongside their footballing talent, though unfortunately it didn’t fire the side to back-to-back World Cup success. In fact, ‘Back Home’ was where England stayed for the next 12 years, failing to qualify for either the 1974 or 1978 World Cups, meaning the country missed out on more epic songs like these.
- Fat Les – Vindaloo. Chart Position: 2. Who would have thought a song with crap lyrics and a title featuring an incredibly hot Indian curry that let’s be honest, barely any of us have tried, would have become a cult classic. But yes, this composition from Alex James, the Blur bassist and Keith Allen is widely loved by all who follow the Three Lions. Good job they didn’t call it Chicken Tikka Masala, doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
- Ant and Dec – We’re on the Ball. Chart Position: 3. A personal favourite for so many reasons, but the lovable Geordie duo produced a World Cup jingle of real catchiness that the fans loved in 2002. The video featuring Ant and Dec dressed as Sven and assistant Tord Grip is amusing in itself and come on, none of us tire about hearing about that night in Munich beating the Krauts. Ever. “AND HESKEY MAKES IT 5!”
- New Order/England Squad Members – World in Motion. Chart Position: 1. Ok, so Eminem was never going to take tips from John Barnes about rapping after this track, but it still reached the number one spot as England’s choice for the 1990 World Cup. Catchy and tuneful with a real feel good factor, it became a big hit as the side made the semi-final. Apparently Barnes had a rap battle with Gazza to decide who would get the part in the main song. Now that’s one recording I would love to hear.
- England 1982 World Cup Squad – This Time (We’ll get it Right). Chart Position: 2. England returned to the World Cup scene in 1982 with another squad-led World Cup song. Whilst it had a sing-along feel to it, coupled with a jolly beat, not many remember this hit. Maybe because the squad certainly didn’t get it right on the field, returning home from Spain after disappointing 0-0 draws with Germany and Spain in the second round.
- England Fans – The Great Escape Theme. Strictly not a World Cup song, nor has it featured in the charts, but who cares. The boys on the terraces sing it loudly every England game so it’s good enough to qualify for me. As soon as you read this, I guarantee you’ll be humming the tune. Plus aside from God Save the Queen, can you think of anything more patriotic? Shame the man who brought it to life, the one and only Steve Mc Queen, was born in the USA. Oh and please don’t listen to the shameful remix that featured on the England’s Greatest Songs CD.
(And the howlers)
- Embrace – World at your Feet. Chart Position: 3. How this made third position in the charts I will never know. It’s shite. Embrace only have one good song anyway so it’s anyone’s guess why they were asked to record this. As World Cup songs go, this was simply forgettable, given that it sounds like any other pop song on the market. Mind you, the only other competition to record the anthem that year was the Crazy Frog…
- Rider ft. Terry Venables – England Crazy. Chart Position: 46. Clearly still bitter about losing the England job, El Tel still decided to help the England cause by recording a song for the 2002 World Cup. Recorded in the swing-style of Frank Sinatra, it’s safe to say the song was a flop. The one thing this song ensured was that fans were not going England crazy. Should have stuck to dodgy-business dealings Terry.
- England United ft Spicegirls – On Top of the World. Chart Position: 9. It has been said that if it wasn’t for the re-release of Three Lions in 1998, this song could be an England classic. Bollocks. Hands up who had ever heard of it before this? So bad, you can barely find it on YouTube. Victoria Beckham made sure her husband wasn’t the only one suffering after that World Cup by releasing this horror show and I imagine Beckhamingham Palace was not the best place to be around in the aftermath of France 98.
A special mention goes to Bell and Spurling with their release of Sven Sven Sven in 2001. I couldn’t decide whether this song is genius or simply dreadful, so I left it at the bottom for you to make your own minds up. The plus side involve taking the piss out of Germany again but who on earth wrote those lyrics.