World Cup songs – and almost all official football songs, if we’re honest – are rarely anything to celebrate. But this year’s, unveiled on Friday night’s Sport Relief, is something of a nadir, a giant shrug of “Will this do?” There’s no bespoke song, just a rather grim cover of Take That’s Greatest Day, supervised by Gary Barlow, featuring the vocal talents of, among others, Gary Lineker, a couple of Spice Girls, Pixie Lott, Eliza Doolittle and Katy B, who must have turned up at the studio, looked around at her companions, and wondered what had possessed her management to agree to this.
Greatest Day isn’t a bad song, per se. It’s a perfectly serviceable representative of the uplifting-yet-slightly-melancholy big ballad that’s been one of pop’s default settings since Coldplay became huge enough to be worth copying. What it isn’t, though, is the kind of fists-in-the-air singalong that tends to work when sung by choirs of drunk people in football shirts. Greatest Day, you can be sure, is unlikely to be bellowed out of pubs this June.
The golden age of the official England song was very short. It lasted for six years and two singles, from New Order’s World in Motion in 1990, to Three Lions, by Baddiel and Skinner with the Lightning Seeds in 1996.
It’s football’s contempt for its audience in musical form. But, you know, it’s all for Sport Relief, so never mind.