The top 5 best and worst football songs of all time

The Bolton News: John Barnes rapping in New Order's World in Motion. Picture from YouTube. John Barnes rapping in New Order's World in Motion. Picture from YouTube.

AS Bolton band Shakeys Brother release their World Cup song for England, we look at some of the best and worst football songs of all time.

The World Cup is now just 62 days away, and football fans across the globe will be willing their country to victory by belting out chants old and new.

The Bolton News has selected its top five England World Cup songs of all time, along with the top five best — and worst — football songs in history.

Top 5 England World Cup songs:

  1. 1998: Baddiel and Skinner/The Lightning Seeds - Three Lions 98
  2. 1990: England and New Order — World in Motion
  3. 1970: England World Cup Squad — Back Home
  4. 1998: England United - (How does it feel to be) on top of the world
  5. 2006: Embrace — World at your Feet

 

The top 5 best football songs of all time:

From the smooth and sophisticated lyrical genius John Barnes to the Latin rhythmic goddess Shakira, here, in no particular order, are the top five football songs of all time.

1. England and New Order — World in Motion (1990).

This doesn’t need much explanation, does it? Just listen to John Barnes’ short segment and try your hardest not to rap along — see, it doesn’t work.

Most England fans could probably remember it off by heart if you asked them.


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This song opens with a genius sample of Kenneth Wolstenholme’s classic "They think it’s all over" quote and features some brilliantly cheesy early '90s synthpop from critically acclaimed New Order.

John Barnes and synth pop — enough said.

2. Shakira — Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) (2010)

Let’s be honest — how many men must hate Gerard Pique? He’s one of the world’s best defenders, he plays for Barcelona and he’s dating the singer of one of our best football songs of all time (who also happens to be a great singer and extremely attractive, but The Bolton News accolade is more important).

With its pulsating Latin rhythms and perfect blend of pop music and authentic African percussion (and, well, Shakira) this is a song which will live long in the memory — even if England’s diabolical 2010 World Cup campaign won’t.

3. Liverpool FC — Anfield Rap (Red Machine in Full Effect) (1988)

Now then — I imagine most (if not all) readers will disagree with me on this, but I had to select the Anfield Rap on a few grounds. Firstly, I make no secret of my allegiances — I’m a Liverpool fan (cue the taunts in the comments section).

Secondly, this is another John Barnes masterpiece — like World in Motion, the song is borderline average without him. Finally, this song features Scousers rapping — if that doesn’t confirm a song’s legendary status, I don’t know what does.

(Editor's note: this song is a disgrace)

4. Baddiel & Skinner & Lightning Seeds — Three Lions (1996)

Another from the England World Cup list — if only the national team’s track record was as good as the country’s musicians.

Originally the song for England’s Euro '96 campaign, this song has been a fixture with England fans ever since its release.

Bringing back memories of the hazy days of Britpop, the curtain haircut and an economy with some prospects, this song will stay in the minds — and lungs — of England fans for years to come.

5. Ricky Martin — The Cup of Life (1998)

Maybe it’s just something about Latin music, but this is another football song that will live long in the memory.

Granted, it does sound like something that would be played at an aerobics class on a cruise ship, but it fits the criteria of every great football song — catchy, timeless and feel-good.

The 5 worst football songs ever:

It's not always been rosy in the world of football songs — here are five tunes that you wouldn’t rush to iTunes to purchase in a hurry.

1. Crazy Frog — We Are The Champions (Ding a Dang Dong) (2006)

Awful — just awful. The fact that it was someone’s job to spend time producing this atrocious remake of Queen’s classic power ballad suggests that we are all in the wrong job.

But hey, if it sells, it’s got to be good, right? Er... no.

2. Shout - Shout for England featuring Dizzee Rascal & James Corden — (2010)

Another poor remake of a classic — maybe some songs are better left untouched.

James Corden and Dizzee Rascal’s adaptation of the song of the same name by Tears for Fears sucks all the life out of the original and makes it sound like something you’d hear at a funfair rather than a song to go into battle.

Unsurprisingly, this song didn’t do much to motivate England at the 2010 World Cup.

3. Smug Roberts — Meat Pie, Sausage Roll (Come on England, Gi's a Goal) (1998)

Before the days of Paddy McGuinness and Peter Kay, we had the comedian Andy Robert Wilkinson, better known by his stage name of Smug Roberts, flying the flag for the North West.

But, on the evidence of this cringeworthy dance remake of Oldham Athletic’s classic jingle, Paddy will be in no rush to make his own World Cup anthem any time soon.

4. Paul Gascoigne — Fog on the Tyne (1990)

Although far from the most bizarre thing Paul Gascoigne has done in his life, this remake of Fog on the Tyne, originally a song by English rock band Lindisfarne, is completely ‘mist’-ifying (sorry).

It’s clear that Gazza’s genius on the football field wasn’t quite matched by his ability on the mic.

Maybe he should have taken some rapping tips from John Barnes.

5. Glenn & Chris — Diamond Lights (1987)

Has Jon Bon Jovi been taking tips from Glenn Hoddle?

It certainly didn’t look (or sound) like it on this evidence.

Whether it’s Hoddle’s poodle haircut, the diabolical dancing or the shocking lyrics, there are many ingredients that make this one the worst football songs of all time.

The worrying thing is, Hoddle has since gone on to say he’s proud of this record.

Maybe we should take everything he says with a pinch of salt...

  • Agree or disagree with our list? Tell us below...

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