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The 10 Best and Worst English Football Songs


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England fans are known for being loud, proud and rowdy - and as we take on Sweden today in the quarter finals of the World Cup, there's never been a better excuse to put on some football themed anthems. 

In this article, as people ask themselves if their places of residence will have a ball come to stay, we will highlight the best and worst of English football songs. From the awful that make your ears bleed to the so awful they're fun, from the 'good for a football song' good to the 'I can't believe this is a football song' good. Hold on tight.

New Order - World In Motion

The only number one ever achieved by Manchester legends New Order, 'World In Motion' was released for the England team at Italia 90. Starting off with snippets of match commentary - a trend amongst football songs - Bernard Sumners begins singing with backup from England players. Keith Allen and football song veteran John Barnes also feature on the track. In fact, Barnes delivers perhaps the rarest thing possible in a football song: a good performance from a footballer! "Catch me if you can 'cos I'm the England man..." Barnes says slowly trying to keep a straight face at Allen's antics behind him. He revealed years later that to get the job he'd rapped off against Paul Gascoigne, Steve McMahon, Peter Beardsley and Des Walker... oh, to be a fly on that wall...

Fat Les - Vindaloo

Is this the musical version of a beer gut? Blur's Alex James and Pink Floyd's Guy Pratt co-wrote the music to 'Vindaloo' while Keith Allen wrote the lyrics. It was produced for the 1998 World Cup in France and got to number two in the charts with the (frankly better) '3 Lions '98' by David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and Lightning Seeds securing the top spot. The video alongside the track parodies 'Bitter Sweet Symphony' by The Verve. Comedian Paul Kaye steps into the shoes of Richard Ashcroft, attempting his solemn walk down the streets as in the original video. Too bad then that he starts getting accosted by a smorgesboard of people. Fat Les members James, Pratt and Allen are joined by Matt Lucas, David Walliams, Cockney Pearly Kings and Queens, sumo wrestlers, Damien Hirst, a French mime (to honour the hosting country), St. Trinianesque girls, priests and more annoy him with the song until he joins in.

David Baddiel, Frank Skinner & The Lightning Seeds - Three Lions

It's coming home! Named after the lions on the England jersey, this is the song that surprised us with Frank Skinner's skills as a vocalist... and he is still perhaps the best in the world of English football songs. 

This is definitely the most quoted football song by a large margin. It was originally released in 1996 to mark England’s participation in the European Championships in England that year, then re-released in 1998. The music was by Lightning Seeds’ Ian Broudie who is joined by David Baddiel and Frank Skinner, in then comedy show Fantasy Football League. Unlike so many other English football songs the 1996 version sings honestly about how shit the England team has been since the 1966 victory, 30 years before. The song became part of the Britpop explosion as it was 1996 with Broudie’s involvement giving it musical cred. Due to being actually good, other teams took to it, with Germany singing it before the semi-finals against England and after when they beat England and paraded the trophy at home in Frankfurt. It is still heard on German radio stations today... but after they plummeted out the knock-outs just last week, it's definitely not heading back to Germany this year. 

Ant & Dec - We’re On The Ball

Everyone was happy when Ant & Dec, or PJ & Duncan, ended their earlier music career... right? So who let them get back together for this?! They somehow managed to get 'We're On The Ball' as our official 2002 FIFA World Cup song in South Korea and Japan. As if singing about the atrocity they’re about to commit they chirp “They thought it was all over, but it’s only just begun…” Help. In the charts, it peaked at three - Will Young's 'Light My Fire' beat them to the top spot.

Shout For England ft. Dizzee Rascal & James Corden - Shout

What have they done to you Dizzee? This was the unofficial anthem of the England football team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and got to number one. Dizzee Rascal samples from better songs like Tears for Fears' 'Shout' and Blackstreet’s 'No Diggity', and mashes them together alongside then-Smithy James Corden. Dizzee does the heavy lifting singing lines like “Leave the wags alone, set aside your ego, we’re tired of bragging about 40 odd years ago” before James and assorted backup sing(ish) by riffing on Tears for Fears.

Spice Girls ft. England United - How Does It Feel To Be On Top Of The World?
This Official England World Cup song was written by Ian McCulloch and performed with the British supergroup England United for the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France. The group included Echo and the Bunnymen, Ocean Colour Scene, Space and the Spice Girls. In theory as all these groups are middling okay to great they should have worked together, but it was booed at Wembley stadium. While 'Vindaloo' and 'Three Lions' dominated the 1998 World Cup, this song was left in the dust, peaking at number 9 in the charts.

Chris Kamara - Sing 4 England
Chris Kamara, former English midfield and football manager turned football pundit and presenter, created this effort for Euro 2012. You'd think it might sound like your uncle after five pints on stage doing karaoke, but Kamara surprises us with pretty good vocals! Too bad on the lyrics...

England Squad - Back Home
The start of it all, for good... and for bad. This was the first English World Cup song, composed for the FIFA World Cup in Mexico in 1970. The team singing are the same squad that brought football home only four years before - it seemed possible that it could happen again. "Back home though they think we're the greatest, that's what we've got to prove..", the team sing thinking they can prove this... alas, they didn't when they lost to West Germany in the quarter finals. 

England Squad - This Time We'll Get It Right
The title of England's song for the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain is one of the most passive aggressive of English World Cup songs. The video features the team singing glumly in recording booths. They try to convince us that "this time, we're going to find a way" but they only found a way to go out in the second round without losing their game. 

Tony Christie - (Is This The Way To) The World Cup
Ah... the heady days of 2006 when Tony Christie's Comic Relief single 'Is This The Way To Amarillo?' featuring Peter Kay was fresh and maybe still bearable. For the FIFA World Cup of 2006 in Germany, Christie rejigged his recent hit in terrible football song fashion. Chris Moyles had a big role in its production (which explains a lot). Described by Tony himself as 'Summer-y', proceeds from the track went to charities such as SportsAid, but years later Christie admitted that it was a song he'd never do again as "it was crap".  


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