The four-yearly World Cup is not just confined to what happens on the pitch. It’s also about the fans at home and in the pub – no to mention the artists that have crammed into the recording studios or back bedrooms of Great Britain and abroad to record their own tribute to the beautiful game. So, as the football tournament nears, let’s grab a greasy burger, shout banter in the direction of the nearest ref, and take a look at who will be providing the musical soundtrack to this summer’s soccer. And let’s start with the official tunes…
Gary Barlow, Gary Lineker, Katy B, Emma Bunton, Pixie Lott – ‘Greatest Day’
What? Here is the official England tune for 2014. Now, the official songs have never really set the world alight, with the public embracing ‘Vindaloo’ or ‘Three Lions’ more so than ‘World At Your Feet’ or ‘We’re On The Ball’, but after hearing this you’ll long for a bit of Embrace or the Geordie boys, as this year’s entry is a tepid, by-numbers cover of the Take That modern classic that doesn’t know when to end.
We have no complaints about Lineker on the mic, if he’s delivering analysis on that night’s football, but even he has to admit that he is no singer, with an accent so dodgy even Danny Dyer would find himself wryly smiling. Lucky he has a bevy of musical WAGs to hand over to thirty-seconds in, in the form of Katy B, Emma Bunton and Pixie Lott. Yes, it’s for Sports Relief, but that doesn’t excuse the record from sounding like Gary Barlow has invited four of his loosest friends down to his local for a bad karaoke night. If he was hoping this might distract people from his, erm, recent headlines, then he’ll struggle. The female singers are as on-note as expected but this bland re-make is only good in its theme, with even its X-Factor style key change failing to ignite a spark.
What would the commentators say? They think it’s all over… we wish it was. Sooner.
Score: 5-1 defeat.
Pitbull feat. Jennifer Lopez & Claudia Leitte – ‘We Are One (Ole Ola)’ (Olodum Mix)
What? On the overall official song for the World Cup, I suppose it was inevitable a Spanish-speaking country would call on Pitbull to rap over a summery tune. If you were expecting a clichéd Brazilian sounding song of samba then, well, you’ll be happy. The first forty seconds flirt with some Dario G sounds before Pitbull comes along and spoils the mood, like the 2014 equivalent of Gareth Southgate. J-Lo is underused and Claudia Leitte might as well have stayed at home and added some more eye shade. It’s catchy – especially the bridge – fits the mood of Brazil and will light up the stadiums, but no one gets a chance to shine and instead of getting more Lopez or Leitte we get too much of Mr Worldwide who can’t resist blurting out some Spanish like Google Translate after a heavy night out. Oh, and they seem to be joined by the cast of Stomp and Whistling Jack Smith.
What would the commentators say? Messier than England’s defence in the group stages
Score: 2-1 win after extra time.
Carlos Santana featuring Wyclef & Avicii & Alexandre Pires – ‘Dar um Jeito (We Will Find A Way)’
What? Another ‘official’ world cup anthem that once again plunders FA’s copy of ‘Now! That’s What I Call Samba’ this time with Wyclef Jean drawling over a backing track that’s far happier than him, as if he’s missed out on tickets to go to Brazil and has to instead watch the qualifiers in some downtrodden pub in Brixton. The heavy use of guitar adds more to this record and it’s hard not to be won over by its energy and power, but it feels like a very average football match where not much happens until injury time when Wyclef appears to cheer up. But that guitar…
What would the commentators say? They really need to substitute someone for Jean. Anyone.
Score: 1-1. Then 3-1 after injury time.
Arlindo Cruz – ‘Tatu Bom de Bola’
What? The sort of song you’d expect to be playing in the toilets of a Nandos, this is the official Mascot Song of the World Cup. Yes, you read that right. I can’t really see someone sweating buckets in a funny animal costume in the heat of Brazil being that enamored by this tune. It’s nice enough with a very evocative music sound, though it does sound like he’s singing ‘My Lucifer’, which will certainly make for an interesting competition if their mascot is of the devil. Smooth and fun like the armadillo mascot, but only once you get past its hard coating.
What would the commentators say? It looks like he’s sweating heavily in there, and no amounts of maracas will help him.
Score: 0-0. OK.
Adam Webb – ‘It’s Our Turn (Down In Brazil)’
What? A raw indie sounding number by a man with a guitar and some crowd sounds. With shades of Embrace’s ‘World At Our Feet’ this manages to mix in the expected clichés of a football song with something much more indie and credible. Just don’t expect any highbrow lyrics or strong production values but it’s a nice ditty with a positive message and a nice switch from verse to chorus via a stadium-recorded bridge, alongside a fun key change. Though they do shamelessly rip of the Lighting Seeds briefly. Get the rounds in rather than the rent-a-crowd of the music video.
What would the commentators say? It’s probably not our turn.
The Blood – ‘Anthem of Dreams’
What? The sort of song that would seem a good idea in the pub, just probably not worth recording after a few pints. Drawly like a country singer whose just discovered the Manchester United website, if you have not yet had your wish for Morrissey to get drunk and record a football sung then consider this half of your wish fulfilment. It doesn’t quite last its optimistic four-and-half-minutes and I doubt you’ll find many people singing this in the stadiums outside of its ‘Rio’ hook, instead it feels like the anthem for some dejected England fans heading to the airport terminal after we’re knocked out, especially when it comes to the downbeat instrumental bit.
What would the commentators say? I told them that the cheap booze in the stadium was a bad idea.
Disco Mister – ‘Bring It Home’
What? Recorded by two teachers, I’m not sure they’ll be able to face their critical pupils after recording this, especially after *that* dancing down *that* corridor. That said, even if the verses are a little dodgy, the chorus hook of ‘Hey hey, here we go’ is pretty catchy and is not quite detention-worthy. You’ll not want to be singing this but you will find yourself humming it. The best of the unofficial tunes so far even if it needs a good minute or so cropping off it.
What would the commentators say? They don’t teach this at football school
Score: 2-0, after staying back after school.
Gabz feat. Joe Public United – ‘Holiday in Brazil’
What? Britain’s Got Talent finalist Gabz jumps onto the football bandwagon, grabs her pronunciation of ‘Eng-er-land’ and brings you this more yoof-enthused number. The verses are fun but the spoken bridges are a little cheesy early on, though it’s hard to ignore the catchy and memorable chorus and you will find yourself singing this too. Gabz also feels more at home when it switches to the rap section Really, this is what an unofficial football tune should be like: a little cheesy, very catchy. Plus the video is fun with the look-a-likes.
What would the commentators say? The team should try harder, this is no holiday in Brazil…
Kwame Darko – ‘Bet They See Me Now (USA Soccer Mix)’
What? The tune for the old US of A, this is a World Cup song if Tinie Tempah was let loose. It’s the most credible number of the list even after the lyrics of the 2013 song have been re-written to reflect the football theme, which I’m sure has gone down well in ‘the hood’. An urban world cup song is something we’ve not really heard of so this is blazing a trail, right to the goal. It lacks the spark and fun you expect from a cheesy world cup anthem but this will hit a new crowd.
What would the commentators say? This is soccer, not American Football.
Score: 2-1, different rules.
Phil McAdam, Matthew Shields, Ben Peacock, Rik Packer – ‘All In Good Time’
What? A more low-key song to accompany the more downbeat moments of the football competition. Something a little different for the song list, but only real football focussed if you twist the lyrics into soccer. Half-way through it sounds like a Pink cover.
What would the commentators say? All in good time England, ideally in 90 minutes, no penalties.
Punkjaw Johnson featuring Guitar God Jim Mcfarnell – ‘Up The Amazon’
What? Imagine if the Sex Pistols had sold out and started making awful-sounding world cup songs rather than advertising butter, and you’d get pretty close to this punky spoken number which has a longer list of musicians involved than the positive points I can mention about the piece. If the spirit of punk isn’t dead with you then put this on, but if you want something that doesn’t sound like your drunken uncle with his lip piercing trying to relive his 70s youth then you should pass.
What would the commentators say? Injury time. I think I’ve just hit my head with despair.
Score: Match abandoned.
Randolph, KSI and Joe Weller – ‘World Cup Song’
What? Ripping off the production style of Labrinth – this sounds like ‘Earthquake’ part two – here is another more urban-sounding piece with rapping over a trumpet and electronic infused piece. For all its unusual stylings, this is actually pretty fun and mixes in some witty lyrics with some more urban styles that actually don’t come across as too cheesy. If you want to support England but feel that anything above is far too poppy, then jump onto iTunes for this.
What would the commentators say? Labrinth – come in. (You’re subbed on)
Score: Yeah, these lot probably will.
Ricky Martin – ‘Vida’
What? Serial football song offender Ricky Martin is back with another uptempo, summer-enthused number that doesn’t go too OTT with the samba feel but keeps the Brazilian theme. Its title might be a quarter of his biggest hit, but it’s more than 25% of the quality, winning you over with its jaunty, singable riffs. This should be the official song methinks.
What would the commentators say? Get Pitbull off, replace him with Martin.
Shakira feat. Carlinhos Brown – ‘Dare (La La La)’
What? Lyrically adapted for the World Cup, this is another song that starts off promisingly with its raucous opening before randomly going dubstep whilst Shakira seems to talk about Danish brick toys. Yes, she has sold out a little by adapting her song for the World Cup – and the lyrics feel more like they were chosen to fit in rather than being purposefully written – apparently Spain, Columbia, France and Germany are the four countries worth mentioning, but I’m sure it won’t do her any harm, and like the Ricky Martin tune this sounds far, far better than the official tune.
What would the commentators say? La-la-la-last minute equaliser.
Three Brians – ‘We Are Engerland’
What? D-I-S-C-Oh God. Yes, the Ottawan classic has been adapted by these Right Said Fred sound-and-look-a-likes but this is the funniest, they-don’t-care entry on the list, the definitive nomination for this year’s best tongue-in-cheek version. With some genuinely funny lines and a fun video and a catchy undercurrent, you won’t want to like this but you will.
What would the commentators say? Engerland! Engerland!
David Correy & Monobloco – ‘The World Is Ours’
What? It’s always Coca Cola, but this song might make you want to drink something a little stronger as it’s not the most inspiring piece of pop music though there are bonus points for it to be in Brazilian. It’s alright but if I have to sit through one more generic samba-featuring song I’ll be wanting to hide from the tournament.
What would the commentators say? Anyone got any Pepsi?
Icona Pop – ‘All Night’
What? For The Hub, a cable TV channel, I already enjoyed this song when it was released ages ago even if it does like the answer to the question: ‘We’d love another song that sounds really like you’re breakthrough hit I Love It. Could you do that?’ Again you can hear it on the sports coverage even though the song is only about football if you think about the lyrics and David Beckham together. A funky, catchy, great punchy number that is very danceable and singable.
What would the commentators say? All night? Probably. Have you seen the kick-off time.
Score: 12 – 2 (night-time)
Lindsey Stirling featuring Lzzy Hale – ‘Shatter Me’
What? The geek’s favourite pin-up’s latest song has been selected by ESPN for their coverage of the World Cup. Though the title might sound like a camp 70s entertainers exclamation (Ooh! Shatter me!) the mixture of frantic violin, powerful vocals and dubstep work really well together and though it has practically nothing to do with the beautiful game it’s a great, multi-layered tune and you can imagine it working well on television stabs.
What would the commentators say? A stirling performance there [chortle]. Ooh, shatter me!
Luan Santana, Thiaguinho, Sandy, Emanuelle Araújo, Gusttavo Lima, Samuel Rosa & Marcelo D2 – ‘Somos um Só’
What? Sounds like the theme from a 1970s sitcom, this is so perky and jaunty it should have a sugar warning. Short and sweet, it’s difficult not to be won over but this quick and punchy number. For Globo, a Brazilian TV network.
What would the commentators say? A short run up there.
Score: 1-34 (short length)
M&J – ‘Summerdreams of Brasilia’
What? The theme for German broadcasters ARD and ZDF, this already seems more like it in the first thirty seconds even if it does sound a little like a delayed Eurovision entry (probably the flight time from Brazil). Yes, it sounds like a Pet Shop Boys knock off and the chorus sounds a little out of tune, but it has more spirit than some of the other more artificial sounding entries. Not quite dreamy enough, but fun.
What would the commentators say? Kick off from the half-way line.
Score: Funf – zwei
Wisin featuring Ricky Martin & Jennifer Lopez – ‘Adrenalina’
What? The theme for Spanish television network Univision, this is another great tune for coverage even if its football credentials are missing, and I’m sure J-Lo is happier being with Wisin on this number than Pitbull on the official tune. Catchy and evokes the feeling of Brazil without going OTT on the samba.
What would the commentators say? Adrenalina – that’s not a banned drug is it?
The Hit Squad – Route 66
What? With a slight nod back to Visage’s ‘Fade to Grey’ this is a raw sounding song that harks back to the days of the eighties in sound. It lacks the huge poppy hook you’d expect from a footie song but its lyrics touch on everything you’d expect and the simple chorus says all it really needs to say. It’s a grower and the speech-like verses touchdown after a few spins.
What would the commentators say? We remember ’66… but we’re starting to forget
Vengaboys – 2 Brazil
What? Sampling Gal Costa’s 1939 song ‘Aquarela do Brasil’ and itself a remake of a 1998 Vengaboys track from their first album, it’s not going to be the song that will be memorable but the, er, video, which is rather NSFW. It’s actually a pretty catchy song that respects the original but also gives it a familiar Vengaboys sound, with a riff taken from their ‘Going to Ibiza’ adaptation too. Sunny, samba-y, and fun. But the video, really?
What would the commentators say? Red card for the video.
Score: 0-0 (If you go visually)
Ferris – A Love as Big as England
What? Four football fans who play in a band who mix up an AC/DC style in the opening with a pondering beat for the rest of the song, with a nod towards the drawly vocals of Morrissey. All the familiar bits are there – ‘eng-er-land’, mentions of 1966, and samples of commentary – and though the chorus is singable the rest is pretty forgettable, at least until the semi-rap appears. Not bad, but a bit downbeat for a summer footie hit.
What would the commentators say? If the love is big as England expect a divorce after three matches.
Score: 1 – love
England Pride – Revenge of World Cup Willie
What? The World Cup often brings out songs like this with videos recorded down at the local pub with bad lip-synching and more replica t-shirts than Primark. Mixing up the sound of Madness with the Tornados Telstar, this is quite summery and bouncy, pretty much what you’d want from a novelty track, but it does feel a little like an in-joke made real.
What would the commentators say? Willie… can we say that?
Score: 6 – 6
Chubby Brown’s ”Alternative England” – Hopes of a Thousand Men
What? Adapting the lyrics of the famous Tenpole Tudor song this is actually a well-written parody and avoids any of the xenophobia you might expect from the artist leading the song, though thankfully it’s not Brown singing but actually some men who can hold the tune. Naturally playing off your love of the original, this is a fun pastiche that ticks all the lyrical boxes with a chorus that will be quick for the fans to pick up. Not sure what it has to do with Chubby Brown though.
What would the commentators say? Only a thousand men… this stadium can hold more than that.
Politics of Pop – Come on England (Don’t Break My Heart)
What? Speaking of xenophobia, here’s the entry that ticks that box, that kicks off with some casual German stereotypes before lifting one of the hooks from Robbie’s ‘Rock DJ’ and then delivering a chorus that sounds like the singers were on the verge of falling asleep. The chorus is OK and there’s some good mix of elements, but it’s as messy as England’s defence. Sounding like one of those keyboards you used at school with an autobeat that someone’s then sung over, this is a little bland.
What would the commentators say? Consider our heart broken.
The X England Managers – Brazil or Bust
What? Now it’s the turn of Suggs’ ‘Cecilia’ to receive the parody treatment outside of a video that parodies many managers and Peter Kay. The chorus is catchy – thanks to its lifting of the original – and there are some funny one-liners elsewhere, but it’s pretty much footie-song-by-numbers again. One of the better ones, though, of the dafter entries.
What would the commentators say? Nuts. Like Brazil nuts.
Marcus Day feat. Cormack – Bangers and Mash
What? An original composition, finally, even if the chorus does suspiciously sound like ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane’. More credible – relatively, naturally – than a lot of the others the bouncy, guitar-led riffs work and by the time you get to the Match of the Day theme and an ode to food you’ll have this stuck in your head.
What would the commentators say? Well the team will definitely be leaving on a jet plane. A boat will take far too long.
The Skatoons – The World Cup’s Waiting For You
What? Ska always seems the natural home for a summer world cup tune and here is another original one. Definitely one of the better songs of the bunch, this is a well produced song and has a great rhythm to back it up. With its ‘Come on England’ chorus it sounds like one that could be sung in the stadium.
What would the commentators say? It’s probably waiting for England, but someone will get there first I think.
East of Dean – It’s My Football (Come on England)
What? Another song taking the Smiths as inspiration, this is a more downbeat number – possibly reflecting the chances of the team – but its slow, swing-style suits the piece, alongside the brass sections. One for the older market.
What would the commentators say? Let’s not think of penalties, thanks.
The Parents – Come on England (Give it Some Welly)
What? Easily the creepiest music video you’ll see around this competition, this post-punky number mentions pies, chips, welly and darts so it can’t be all bad. Funny and a little cheesy, but still incredibly creepy when combined with the video.
What would the commentators say? Wellies? Surely football boots are a better bet.
MadFish – England
What? Here’s this year’s pseudo-political one with a sound that mixes up the Sex Pistols with the Jam. With a catchy riff based around ‘this is the England we know’, it just about manages to steer away from becoming Nigel Farage’s song of choice. This is really an attack on the Government dressed as a football anthem. It’s poppy though.
What would the commentators say? MadFish? I didn’t see that in the catering tent.
Mr England – Bring Back The Roar
What? ‘Bring Back The Roar’ might tread a similar path lyrically to a lot of the songs, but is actually a song that avoids many of the clichéd sounds and video imagery. Not quite stadium-friendly enough to win over the crowds, it’s a more professionally done piece, but needs a better chorus and a bit of fat trimmed off its five minute running time.
What would the commentators say? We’d bring back the roar, but we might get stopped at Brazilian customs.
Eversfield – Sing Out For England
What? A more stripped back number, this acoustic-led piece is something a little bit different – like the half-time pie of music between the two raucous sets of uptempo pop numbers. Well written and performed, but it’s more likely to be the depressed soundtrack of a World Cup defeat.
What would the commentators say? Brings a bigger tear to my eye than the Southgate penalty.
World Cup Buster – We’ll Do It Again
What? Another song built around the love of the original sample – this time ‘Tom Hark’ by the Piranhas – the chorus is pretty memorable thanks to that, but it’s the celebrity-packed video that is brilliant and shows a lot of effort has been put into it. Love the McFly bit. But it doesn’t half go on a bit. Cut it down lads!
What would the commentators say? We probably won’t do it again.
England FC Supporters Trust – Made in England
What? Written in response to the official England entry – they say it’s not good enough – to come up with a better song, ironically they haven’t, and it’s actually worse than Lineker’s effort. Drawly, poorly recorded, badly sung and a little bland. If this is made in England I think I’d ask for my money back.
What would the commentators say? You just can’t trust the supporters…
Roy’s Young Lions – Young Lions In Brazils
What? There are no words for this cover of Bob Marley’s famous song.
What would the commentators say? Red card
So what’s your favourite of the above? Let us know in the comments below!