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Last Updated: Friday, 7 May, 2004, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
What makes a great football song?
By James Bregman
BBC News Online entertainment staff

The Farm's 1990 hit All Together Now is being remixed and released as the England team's official song for the Euro 2004 football championships.

David Baddiel and Frank Skinner
Three Lions caught the nation's imagination in 1996

If All Together Now is to be a hit with soccer fans, it will have to hit on the winning formula that only a select few football anthems have cracked.

That formula used to be simple - get the players to perform a reasonably catchy song, singing together to help keep each other in tune, and hope fans will join in.

Getting those supporters singing along still has to be the target.

"A good football song has a catchy chorus, which, once you've heard it once or twice, you can't get out of your head," according to Music Week magazine's executive editor Martin Talbot.

"That, and the ability to be able to sing it on the terraces. The most successful football songs are the ones which people sing today."

Three Lions, the Lightning Seeds' winning collaboration with comedians Frank Skinner and David Baddiel, filled these criteria with great success.

The England squad appeared on Top of the Pops in 1970
The England squad appeared on Top of the Pops in 1970
Nobody in the country could get this love-it-or-hate-it song out of their heads during Euro 96.

Even visiting German fans triumphantly - and without irony - sang "football's coming home" when their team won the tournament.

That was quite an achievement for a song that name-dropped England's great players and was all about the country's status as the game's original birthplace.

Three Lions still regularly rings out at England matches, but many say it comes second to a song that is beyond the vocal abilities of most fans.

"New Order's World in Motion is possibly the most credible football song of all time, but you don't hear it on the terraces that much," says Mr Talbot.

World in Motion changed the genre when it became the song of England's 1990 World Cup campaign.

New Order
New Order's World in Motion is seen by many as the best England song
Perhaps taking note of Liverpool FC's Anfield Rap two years earlier, New Order wisely restricted the England players to backing vocals - with the exception of John Barnes' legendary rap interlude.

It was as catchy as classics like Back Home and This Time, anthems of England's 1970 and 1982 World Cup Squads.

But it was also probably the first football song of genuine musical quality.

Soccer tunes tend to benefit from being entirely original.

All Together Now is not only a beloved classic but has already been massacred in the name of football, when Everton used it as their 1995 FA Cup Final song.

Fat Les
Fat Les' song Vindaloo went to number two in 1998
Ant and Dec came unstuck when they attempted a similar feat, recycling Arsenal's On the Ball as England's musical effort in the 2002 World Cup. Even in a year without any major musical opposition, the song was poorly received.

Even the mighty Three Lions failed to repeat its previous success when it was re-released with fresh lyrics for the 1998 World Cup.

Taking the audience by complete surprise seems to work better.

Fat Les' Vindaloo, also out in 1998, was another monumentally catchy track that was also simple enough to be sung by fans after their matchday drinking.

The same year, the FA's official choice was a less successful collaboration. England United curiously paired Echo and the Bunnymen with The Spice Girls.

Despite the latter's fame, the song sank without trace, confirming popularity of performers counts for little by itself.


SEE ALSO:
England's Euro 2004 song revealed
07 May 04  |  England
Hunt for top football chant
25 Nov 03  |  South Yorkshire


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