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Friday, May 22, 1998 Published at 17:18 GMT 18:18 UK

Sport: Football

Pop goes the World Cup
image: [
"Three lions on the shirt," (again)

The fight for football's greatest prize is undoubtedly fraught with rivalry and competition.

Adam Mynott reports on the battle to be the official England world cup song
But if events on the pitch are tough, they are still nothing compared to the almighty tussle that is about to break out in the nation's record shops.

No less than three England World Cup songs have been released for the finals, each bidding to become the people's favourite footy tune.

In past World Cups England have had one song - normally a bland, sing-a-long, half-heartedly mumbled by the squad - on which to pin patriotic hopes.

Not any more.

Roaring to success

Three Lions - "Every larynx at full throttle" [36"]
The success of Three Lions during Euro 96, which roared to No 1 in the charts, has sparked a three-way fight to secure the top prize in the pop market.

David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and the Lightning Seeds are cashing in on Euro 96 by re-releasing their anthem, re-titled Three Lions 98, with new lyrics for France.

"There's something special about Three Lions," Skinner said. "We don't care what anyone else thinks, we just wanted to do it again."

According to Baddiel, the song was born again out of public demand: "A lot of people asked for it and we thought it would be snooty not to do it, so we did," he said.

A bland dish?

The news that one of the most popular football songs of all-time is being brought out again has come as something of a blow to the official England record - which was commissioned by the Football Association.

[ image: On Top Of The World]
On Top Of The World
On Top Of The World, written by Ian McCulloch of Echo and the Bunnymen and ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, won a competition judged by, among others, FA boss Graham Kelly.

He listened to a host of demo tapes and then used his wealth of musical expertise to judge McCulloch's track the best of the lot - beating off the likes of Blur and Pulp.

On Top Of The World, which also features the Spice Girls, Space and Ocean Colour Scene, has been slammed by the critics for its banal terrace-friendly chant of "England we love you."

Too hot

Official England World Cup song [20"]
But if the likes of McCulloch and Baddiel think they have turned the summer's sporting song contest into a two-horse race, then they had better think again.

There is a also third contender - a tongue-in-cheek song which is clearly going for the lowest common denominator audience.

[ image: Keith Allen:
Keith Allen: "A bucket of vindaloo"
The intriguingly-titled Vindaloo is the brain-child of comedian Keith Allen - who co-wrote the first ever fashionable football song, New Order's 1990 single World In Motion - and the artist Damien Hirst.

It is unashamedly a "lads'" song, with references to curry and football and a spoof video, which mocks the the Verve's Bitter Sweet Symphony.

The song's off-the-wall lyrics include this captivating couplet:

Me and me mum and me dad and me gran We're off to Waterloo. Me and me mum and me dad and me gran And a bucket of vindaloo.

So now it is up to the nation to decide. Which of the three songs will they start humming in the bath and chanting down the pub?

Nothing will be settled until the finals kick-off. But if England do well, there's little doubt that all three singles will sell by the truck-load.

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