From club teams walking out onto home grounds accompanied by theme songs, to crowd chants and pop culture references, the music industry has always had strong ties to the beautiful game. Both music and football seem to have the ability to stir human emotions across the globe like nothing else.
In particular, the World Cup has become somewhat synonymous with music. In honour of that, for a special exhibition this summer at the British Music Experience we have gathered a selection of some great and some truly awful British singles and even albums that have been released during the build up to World Cup years.
Ever since Los Ramblers wrote the song El Rock del Mundial to soundtrack the 1962 World Cup (and inspire host nation Chile), each tournament has had an official song. Not only this, but countries have got in on the act as well, and our British teams are no different. Including both officially endorsed songs and unofficial efforts too, there have been more than 20 anthems backing England and Scotland in World Cups through the years, with varying levels of success.
Artists that feature heavily in our main exhibition such as Lonnie Donegan, New Order and the Spice Girls have all tried their hands at the England World Cup anthem, and the likes of Rod Stewart and Lulu have pitched in for Scotland. Singles have followed Northern Ireland where they have qualified, but Wales are still waiting for their first World Cup since 1958, a time when a football squad wouldn’t have dreamt of entering a recording studio. They did, however, qualify for the European Championships in 2016 and were blessed with an inspirational football single of their own by the Manic Street Preachers.
Perhaps the most popular football song of all of England’s attempts was also originally written for the Euro’s hosted here in England in 1996 – Three Lions, by Frank Skinner, David Baddiel and the Lightning Seeds. It was re-recorded and re-released as England’s unofficial anthem for the 1998 World Cup in France, when it reached number one for a second time.
This year, England are the only of the British teams to have qualified, but unfortunately there is no officially endorsed song. However, unlike the golden age of the World Cup single, now thanks to the internet anyone and everyone can easily throw something together and upload it to YouTube. As a result, there is no shortage of weird and wonderful tunes to get you in the mood for this summer’s tournament – most notably at the time of writing, this bizarre version of Boney M’s Rasputin featuring Freddie Flintoff and Kaiser Chiefs’ Ricky Wilson.
Head on down to the British Music Experience throughout June and July to give each single a listen, check out the exhibit for yourself and to hear some interesting insights and anecdotes from our Crew. The Experience is open daily from 9am-6pm (last entry 4.30pm).