Six of One – Three Lions or World In Motion?
It’s back at Number 1 for the first time in 22 years, and will be ringing out across the nation tonight. England face their biggest game since Italia ’90 as they take on Croatia in a bid to reach their first World Cup final since 1966, but is Three Lions the definitive England song or does that honour belong to early nineties classic World In Motion?
Is it ’96 all over again? Three Lions (or ‘It’s Coming Home’ for the less initiated) has become the surprise anthem of the summer. Bringing a feelgood factor to the whole country, the song is arguably even more popular amongst England fans and the public at large now than it was in its Britpop 90s heyday.
Let’s flashback 22 years. The unlikely trio of David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and Lightning Seeds’ frontman Ian Broudie were given the unenviable task of writing the official England song for Euro ’96 on English soil – usually a poisoned chalice.
They hit upon a novel idea – focusing the lyrics around the authentic England fan experience of hope, expectation and ultimately despair rather than the triumphant tone of previous official songs like ‘Back Home’ (1970). The journey of emotions expressed in the song resonate with football fans across the board regardless of the club v country debate.
Even if you don’t love the national team, the song’s sentiment still stands. Yes, your team might be heading to Yeovil away on the first day of the season after a humiliating relegation in the previous campaign – but, crucially, you are there – and you still believe.
And let’s not overlook Broudie’s work with the music and production values – as soon as the opening bars and haunting commentary from tournaments gone by kicks in, the hairs stand on end, and it’s practically impossible to resist spontaneously bursting into song.
That winning formula helped propel the song to No. 1 in 1996, and with the England team embarking on another unlikely run in 2018, it’s perhaps no surprise the lyrics still hold to this day, with England fans nervously waiting to see if by the end of this week, there really will be ‘no more need for dreaming’.
Nostalgia value: 10/10
Novelty value: 8/10
Overall score: 27/30
World In Motion
For some England superfans, Three Lions may well be the people’s choice, but World In Motion will always be the purist’s choice – particularly for those who can reel off John Barnes’ famous rap without breaking sweat.
The official song for Italia ’90, New Order’s catchy effort works on a similar level to Three Lions in instantly transporting the listener back to a specific time and place. World In Motion’s astonishing video should be stored in a time capsule in the event of a global apocalypse (let’s wait until Sunday at least).
Unearthed 100 years from now, it would leave lucky survivors in no doubt as to what the early 90s was all about. Whilst it lacks the instant appeal and ‘singability’ of Three Lions, it’s best to look at World In Motion more as a fine vintage wine – improving with every play and rewarding repeat listens.
It’s also the last time the FA would allow players to appear on a record – and in the modern Premier League age, it’s hard to see that ever happening again.
For that alone, it deserves to be cherished.
Nostalgia value: 9/10
Novelty value: 9/10
Overall score: 25/30
All image sources from PA Images
Which song is your England No. 1?
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