Desert Island Discs #WC Special – Mr Battman
I have picked four World Cup songs that always make me smile when a major tournament comes around.
- We’re On The Ball – Ant & Dec (2002)
Without a doubt the cheesiest of my selection as Ant & Dec have plenty of fun posing as Sven-Goran Eriksson and Tord Grip. Containing plenty of references to the qualifying campaign that included the famous 5-1 win over Germany (“And Heskey makes it 5”) and David Beckham’s greatest game in an England shirt (when he single handedly dragged us to a 2-2 draw against Greece at Old Trafford equalising with a 90th minute free-kick).
- Vindaloo – Fat Les (1998)
1998 is the first World Cup I remember, and Vindaloo (along with my number one choice), a song by unlikely trio of Blur bassist, Alex James; famous artist, Damien Hirst; and jobbing actor, Keith Allen, helped make it. A fans’ favourite that soon took the terraces by storm although, as a negative, it did glorify the laddish nature of football. The video is a parody of Verve’s Bitter Sweet Symphony (interestingly the tune that ITV use for their England football title sequence) and contains various famous faces including Lily Allen, Matt Lucas, David Walliams and many others. How many can you spot?
- World In Motion – New Order (1990)
While I was alive for Italia 90, I don’t remember it, and perhaps that says a lot about how good (if a football anthem can be deemed good) this song is that it makes my top 2. Opening with Kenneth Wolstenholme’s commentary, “Some of the crowd are on the pitch… They think it’s all over… It is now” and most famous for John Barnes’ rapping, World In Motion is almost certainly the best football anthem out there from a musical perspective.
- Three Lions ’98 – Badiel, Skinner & The Lightening Seeds (1998)
Three Lions gets the hair on my neck standing upright every time I hear it. Originally released for Euro 96 (the first major tournament I can remember), the song captured what it is truly like to support England (“Everyone seems to know the score, they’ve seen it all before”) with the constant disappointment. The 1998 version, while not as good, opens with a reflection on Euro 96 and with current England boss Gareth Southgate’s penalty miss against Germany. Again, it contains reflections on the qualifying campaign with reference to England’s 0-0 drawn in Rome to guarantee them qualification for the World Cup (“Then one night in Ro-o-ome / we were strong, we had grown”). It will never be as good as the Euro 96 version and perhaps because of that I should have knocked it down below World In Motion, but the magic of the 96 version (you can hear it being chanted on terraces from Euro 96 in the background of the 98 version) makes it my number one! Is 2018 the time to end those years of hurt? Almost certainly not, but the song has come to symbolise the futility of hope, rather than hope itself, so it’s extremely relevant still.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJqimlFcJsM (96 version)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzxMjBEazas (98 version)