International Football

Power Ranking England's World Cup Songs

Rob PollardFeatured ColumnistMay 23, 2014

Power Ranking England's World Cup Songs

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    As England's World Cup campaign draws ever nearer, excitement and anticipation is beginning to grow. Roy Hodgson's young squad are far from favourites, with expectancy levels in England as low as many can remember, yet the World Cup is a tournament that excites even the most pessimistic football fan.

    Central to our memories of past campaigns are the songs and terrace chants ringing out from the section occupied by England supporters, and here we look back at the best of them, from "official" World Cup songs to those which became synonymous with the England fans thanks to their ability to be sung loud and proud.

10. World at Your Feet

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    West Yorkshire band Embrace, led by singer Danny McNamara, were asked to write England's 2006 World Cup song, and they came up with "World at Your Feet", a rather drab effort which peaked at No. 3 in the charts.

    It attempted to capture a sense of grandeur, conveying the potential that lay in wait if England's boys could return home victorious. However, in truth, it missed the target. Pretty badly.

9. We're on the Ball

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    Where Embrace fell down due to an overabundance of sincerity and seriousness, "We're On The Ball", Ant and Dec's effort from four years earlier, was aided somewhat by its playfulness.

    In the video they pretend to be Sven-Goran Eriksson and his assistant Tord Grip, with footage of England's 5-1 win away at Germany in qualifying for the 2002 World Cup featuring heavily.

    Anticipation for this tournament was sky high. With the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Sol Campbell, Paul Scholes and David Beckham, England travelled to Japan and South Korea in confident mood. However, a 2-1 defeat to Brazil in the quarter-finals meant their wait for a follow up to the 1966 success continued.

8. Greatest Day

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    This year's official World Cup song is "Greatest Day", a Take That number covered by an array of celebrities raising money for Sports Relief.

    By no means the best, it does, however, contain a moment of commentating brilliance from Brian Moore describing Michael Owen's superb solo goal against Argentina. Moore was the finest commentator of his generation, and that moment sprinkles some brilliance into an otherwise lacklustre song.

7. (How Does It Feel to Be) on Top of the World?

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    This was supposed to be the official World Cup song for England's France '98 campaign but ended up being overshadowed by unofficial releases which feature later in the list.

    It was a collaboration between the Spice Girls, Echo and the Bunnymen, Space and Ocean Colour Scene. The line-up promised variety and invention, but it was a largely underwhelming effort, featuring an uninspired "England forever" refrain at the end.

    Overall, a very forgettable track which signalled the decline in quality of the "official" World Cup songs.

6. Back Home

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    Written by Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, and performed by England's 1970 World Cup squad, "Back Home" has a typically English melody and feel. It reached No. 1 on the singles chart and saw the idea of an official World Cup song spawned and subsequently continued.

5. This Time (We'll Get It Right)

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    Chris Norman and Pete Spencer were given the task of writing the follow up to "Back Home", once again utilising the England players on vocal duty. "This Time" was a step up from "Back Home", and spoke of "the roar of the red, white and blue", and how it "makes you proud to play for England".

    On the pitch, though, England were once again unsuccessful, with Ron Greenwood's side eliminated in the second round despite not losing a match. A unique two-group format saw England draw their two second-round games and fail to move into the semi-finals.

4. Vindaloo

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    An unlikely classic. Fat Les was a collaboration between Blur bassist Alex James, actor Keith Allen and Damien Hirst, a world-renowned artist. Released as an unofficial World Cup song for France '98, it was intended to parody football chants, but can still be heard being sung on the terraces today.

    It reached No. 2 in the singles charts, with its catchy refrain providing the song with a killer hook.

3. Three Lions

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    Originally released as the official Euro '96 England song, it was so incredibly popular they altered the words and released it again in 1998, charting at No. 1 on both occasions.

    The music was composed by Ian Broudie of the band the Lightning Seeds, with the lyrics written by comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner. Whereas the original began with negative comments from pundits, the re-release started with footage of Gareth Southgate missing his penalty in the Euro '96 semi-final against Germany followed by the words "we still believe," capturing a renewed optimism after England's good run at the Euros.

    It gripped the nation in '96 and again in '98 and deserves its high place in this list.

2. All Together Now

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    Okay, this was actually used as England's song for Euro 2004, but having initially been recorded and released in 1990, it had already become synonymous with England way before, so it's being counted here on the basis of it being sung by fans at World Cups in the past.

    It's a superb track that transcends football, yet instantly evokes the very best feelings associated with the beautiful game. It had previously been used by Everton as their 1995 FA Cup final song.

    The Farm, a Liverpudlian band, wrote the song after being inspired by events on Christmas Day 1914, where British and German troops played a game of football on no-man's land.

1. World in Motion

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    Starting with Kenneth Wolstenholme's famous commentary from the 1966 World Cup, "World in Motion" by Manchester band New Order remains the best England song ever made.

    New Order were made of the remaining member of Joy Division, who disbanded after the death of lead singer Ian Curtis. They are one of the finest bands this country has ever produced, and since their formation in 1980, they've pioneered electronic sounds and managed a slew of hits, including Blue Monday, the biggest selling 12-inch single ever.

    "World in Motion" was England's Italia '90 World Cup song where, under the guidance of the great Bobby Robson, they reached the semi-finals. It was a side containing some true England greats, including Brian Robson, Gary Lineker and Paul Gascoigne.

    The song reached No. 1 in the charts and will forever be remembered as a great World Cup track that captured the anticipation and expectancy of the nation.

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