Ranking 18 official and unofficial England major tournament songs
We’ve done the kits, we’ve done the balls, we’ve done the mascots, now it’s time for the big one: the England songs.
2018 marks the end of a tradition which has been going since 1970 as England will head to Russia without an official World Cup song.
We’ve looked back and ranked 18 previous England songs – both official and unofficial – to determine a winner. It obviously comes down to the two big guns.
18. Sing 4 England
Can England get liquidated? Sorry, Kammy.
17. We’ve Got The Whole World At Our Feet
England had the whole world at their feet in 1986, but Diego Maradona had the hand of God.
It’s hard to believe this was released in the same year The Smiths released The Queen Is Dead.
16. London To Berlin
This actually has the lines: “Football is the game and England is its name,” and: “When we’re thinking of Roo, and all the things he can do.”
15. Sven Sven Sven
It speaks volumes that a song which references Jimmy Savile and has the lyric “he’s a lovely geezer, but don’t forget that he’s from Sweden” still isn’t the worst England song.
Remember when Dizzie Rascal could do anything – even record a song with James Corden that featured the line “come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough”?
Our memories tricked us into thinking this wasn’t that bad, but then we listened back to that first verse.
13. (How Does It Feel To Be) On Top Of The World
Echo and the Bunnymen writing an England song for the Spice Girls – with a member of Ocean Colour Scene thrown in for good measure – might be our favourite thing to happen in the 1990s.
Shame it’s crap, like.
12. World At Your Feet
Bit serious, lads. Cheer up.
11. Back Home
Four years on from winning the World Cup, the first England song of its ilk was a fairly cheery effort. You can imagine your grandad enjoying it, which is nice.
It’s hard to mess up a good, solid hymn like Jerusalem really. Letting Fat Les re-record it could have gone a bit wrong, though.
Thankfully, Keith Allen and co muck about – literally – just enough for it to avoid getting too bantery.
9. We’re On The Ball
What if Ant and Dec had actually replaced Sven and Tord Grip. Would England have still reached the quarter-finals? Would Seaman have still been lobbed by Ronaldinho? Would England… would England have won it?
8. Come on England
To quote Tom Victor: “Whisper it, but this is one of the better footballisations of a popular song. Good? No, I wouldn’t go that far.”
7. Greatest Day
It’s just that Take That song, but we really like the terrible acting from Alan Hansen and Lawro in the Match of the Day studios beforehand.
6. All Together Now
Like sneezing and blinking, it’s physically impossible to listen to this song and not think of football. They didn’t even really have to add the clips of England commentary.
This would be a contender for top spot – it’s a brilliant song – were it not for the fact that it had been released 14 years, re-released by Everton when they reached the FA Cup final in 2005, then re-released again for Euro 2004.
Apparently it was re-released yet again for the 2006 World Cup by Goleo VI and Atomic Kitten. Thankfully, we have no recollection of that and point-blank refuse to research it now.
5. All The Way
This is so 80s it’s a surprise they didn’t make the players wear suits with shoulderpads.
It’s actually a decent pop song. It’s obviously not actually any good, but still. It also earns points for just how uncomfortable Gary Lineker looks in the video.
4. This Time (We’ll Get It Right)
This places high thanks to being one of the very few football songs to actually face up to reality; namely, we usually f*ck it up, but this time we might not.
This was only released 16 years after England had actually won the World Cup. Fifty-two years on from their solitary success, there really should be a version called Look, Alright, Everybody Knows We Haven’t Got A Chance (But You Never Know).
It’s very difficult to make a football song objectively good, so if you can’t be good, there is absolutely no shame in being daft. Being silly is fun.
Bar the line “we’re going to score one more than you”, it’s easy to forget this is actually a football song, but it has that crucial element: a simple refrain a crowd can bellow along to.
2. World In Motion
If this was ranked on coolness, World In Motion would win by a mile. But for the most part, football, and especially major tournaments, aren’t actually cool. They’re middle-aged men who really should know better with a smudged St George’s cross running down their face as they cry at yet another defeat on penalties.
But World In Motion encapsulates those moments when football is genuinely cool: one of the coolest bands in the planet in New Order, wearing some of the coolest England shirts of all time, accompanied by one of the coolest England players of all time in John Barnes.
It’s soooo cool that when we had the opportunity to interview Barnes, one of the finest footballers of his generation, we only actually asked him about this song.
1. Three Lions
This is what major tournaments following England are, or should be, about.
Romance, optimism, glory, defeat, pessimism, hopelessness and belief all rolled into one three-and-a-half minute pop banger.
Baddiel and Skinner nailed it with the lyrics, but Ian Broudie’s role in writing and producing the music is criminally overlooked.
The ‘oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, ooooooohs’ on the outro might actually be the greatest moment in the history of recorded music.