It’s the eve of Euro 2016 and the excitement is building, so what better way to prepare for the Three Lions’ latest attempt to end 50 years of hurt than to listen to our Essential England Euro 2016 playlist?
Down the years there have been some cracking songs celebrating football and the England team, but like the football itself, sometimes the tunes fall way short.
In 1996, though, when football came home, David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and the Lightning Seeds set the bar at what has remained an unbeatable height ever since, with their classic Three Lions.
It was so good, even the Germans nicked for it their celebrations after they lifted the European Championship trophy at Wembley that summer – England almost lived up to the song, but for Gazza’s slide and Southgate’s missed penalty.
Even when Three Lions was re-released, with updated lyrics, two years later for France ’98, the song was still a fans’ favourite. Today, 20 years on, it continues to give goose bumps to any supporter who believes, no matter what, that this is, again, ‘England’s Year’.
The song came hot on the heels of the 1990 classic, World in Motion, by New Order, that featured the iconic John Barnes rap. That was a perfect song for a memorable summer in Italy, but Three Lions managed to surpass it, just about.
Some other tunes, which make our Essential England Euro 2016 playlist, have come close – Fat Les’s Vindaloo was a cult classic – while prior to the comedians hitting gold in 96, England’s attempts were corny, but quaint and well-loved: Back Home for Mexico 1970, This Time for Spain 82 and We’ve Got the Whole World At Our Feet when they were back in Mexico in 86.
There have been other, forgettable songs, too. Anything Geordie duo Ant and Dec touch usually turns to gold, but their effort for 2002 did not have the X Factor. The Spice Girls led a gang of 90s popsters with another try, while Embrace’s 2006 try was a little sappy.
This year, the FA have not backed any song officially, but there are a number of unofficial tracks, including Shaun Ryder and his gang of merry men featuring Black Grape bandmate Kermit, Goldie and DJ Paul Oakenfold, and Bez, obviously, who go by the name of Four Lions for their new release We Are England.
Baddiel, Skinner and the Lightning Seeds are not quaking in the their boots, though, and the secret of their success is something the England team could really do with this summer.