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May 26, 2010 / Nick

Three Lions ’10 – The Squad

There are just two events that receive a clutch of popular musical acknowledgement. One is the festivities of Christmas which bring an annual bunfight to the pop charts. The other is the FIFA World Cup. I can’t quite get my head around why we have songs to pledge our support to footballers, who are just doing they’re job after all. But that said, I can understand that football songs are as much a kind of love song as anything you might hear in the wee hours on Magic. Just that, with at least 11 men to lyrically fawn over, it’s more of a polyamorous love than your typical Lionel song (even ‘3 Times a Lady’ drew a line somewhere).

Baddiel and Skinner (Untanned)

One of the glittering trophies in the dusty and rusting World Cup anthem cabinet is Three Lions – Not strictly speaking a World Cup song at all, but originally made as the official song for Euro 96, where the official slogan of the competition was ‘Football Comes Home’. After it’s initial success in 96, The Lightning Seeds and Baddiel & Skinner did the double and got a reworked version of it to number 1 in 1998. It has leaped into the top 20 during every World Cup since.
Now with a new version in 2010, the team’s changed a bit, but the song is still the same right? Right?

This is the Band Aid II of sporting anthems. And I don’t mean that in the good, now-with-added-donk, jazzed-up-by-Pete-Waterman way. No, I mean the cynical, choose-an-already-popular-song-and-get-some-stars-whose-careers-are-on-the-slide-to-record-a-cover-so-people-will-remember-them-for-years way. Not that I’m comparing Russell Brand and Robbie Williams’ current celebrity status to that of Bananarama and Sonia in 1989. But more that you can’t help but feel that just like Matt Goss’s rendition of  the famous ‘tonight thank god it’s them, instead of you’ line, they’re heart might not be in it as much as it was for the original.

I’m not really into the operatic chorister singing on various bits of the song. I don’t like the pub-chanty cliché sound of the chorus that the original versions so mercifully avoided. Even John Motson’s (albeit, fake) commentary sounds like a complete pound-shop effort:

In the villages and the towns,
In the gardens or the streets,
On the fields in the parks,

That sounds more like a senile old man losing his trail of thought halfway through a list.

Early morning reshoot ahoy

Unfortunately, this new version doesn’t move me. I’m not the biggest football fan, but I dig all that meta stuff; the flags, the sticker books, the clunkily inserted Garry & Minty segment in EastEnders referencing the scores and, of course, the songs. Maybe the kids younger than me will have it stuck in their head just like I did when I was a kid in 96. But I remember ‘I remember three lions on the shirt’. I don’t care much for this new ‘Iiiii reeee-mem-berrrr’.

Review: It wasn’t broke and you didn’t fix it.


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