Gary Barlow’s reworking of the Take That hit, Greatest Day, was supposed to become England’s World Cup anthem. Instead, it has been quietly axed.
England’s World Cup songs enjoy a mixed record on critical acclaim to say the least. But the latest offering from Gary Barlow and a host of superstars has claimed the dubious honour of being dropped as a single before the tournament even starts.
The England football team are gearing up for their World Cup opener against Italy on 14 June after securing a 3-0 win over Peru in their final warm-up match before leaving for Brazil, and may not be overly concerned by the musical sideshow being played out in the tournament lead-up.
But decent tournament songs have, in the past, preceded England’s more successful performances, meaning that some of the more superstituous fans may be taking more notice than they’d like to admit.
Greatest Day featured heavily in the Sport Relief charity campaign in March, but has now been dropped from iTunes and will reportedly not be released as a single, joining a host of other football tournament themes in ignominy.
Barlow re-recorded the Take That smash hit Greatest Day with pop stars including Katy B, Pixie Lott and Eliza Doolittle along with several former football stars who chose sport above singing many years ago, such as Gary Lineker, Sir Geoff Hurst, Michael Owen and David Seaman.
In total, 12 former England players and eight pop stars joined forces to record the song at Sarm Studios in West London, where the 1984 Band Aid single was recorded, but that record’s huge success has plainly failed to rub off.
Musicians have often failed to weave their magic for their sporting brethren, with arguably only a couple of notable exceptions such as New Order’s World in Motion for the 1990 World Cup and Three Lions, written for Euro 96 by David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and the Lightning Seeds.
Some of the less well-received songs include Ant & Dec’s We’re on the Ball, recorded for England’s disappointing 2002 World Cup campaign, and Embrace’s World at Your Feet in 2006, when England crashed out of the World Cup after losing to Portugal on penalties.
The official song for the 1998 World Cup, a joint effort between Echo and the Bunnymen and the Spice Girls, was roundly outdone by what became the unofficial tournament anthem, Vindaloo by Fat Les – a song which was, ironically, meant to be a parody of football chants before becoming one itself.
Several other songs are now jostling to become “the anthem” of the 2014 tournament, although the FA seems to be distancing itself from endorsing any of them.
It remains to be seen whether a good tournament song really is a prerequisite for decent performances on the pitch, but perhaps Sport Relief and the FA are just playing it safe this time.