The single. A mighty art form that reignites fond memories that hark back to Saturdays as a youngster, pocket money in hand, marvelling at the wall of cassette tapes laid out in the order of the Top 40 in Woolworths. Which ones to choose? The song that’s been playing on the radio all week? The one your mates have been banging on about? The one your crush said they liked?
If you were a young muso, perhaps it was more about the band than the song (particularly in the case of the Britpop Battle of the Bands circa 1995). Sometimes, in a moment of madness, you endorsed an awful song released by, say, Zig and Zag, Mr. Blobby… Bob The Builder, even.
That’s right – the ubiquitous novelty song. Christmas time is sadly haunted by them, and there seems to be a surge every couple of years when redundant footballers think it might be a good idea to earn some extra cash. Oh yes: all hail the football anthem. This summer is no exception – and with the World Cup literally kicking off on Friday, there’s no escape from them….
Terry Venables – ‘If I Can Dream’
Oh, Terry. Terry, Terry, Terry. Times must be hard. To be fair, although it’s like your dad sing karaoke badly, Tel can just about carry the tune off. It still feels just as embarrassing to listen to though. The only redeeming feature is that it’s for charity.
Lightning Seeds, Baddiel and Skinner – ’3 Lions’
No football tournament is complete without this anthemic delight making an appearance in the charts. It’s been around for a whopping 14 years (it was originally released for Euro ’96) and has been re-released on several occasions – this year being no exception. This is even the second version to be released this year, with a celebrity-filled version brought out a few weeks ago under ‘The Squad’. It’s loud, fun and easy to remember the words to. If there’s one song to get us through the tournament, it’s this.
StringFever – ‘Forever England’
On a slightly different note, this attempt at a classy, patriotic song could be quite good – but it’s a bit grown up for its target audience. Opera probably isn’t the first choice musical genre of the football fan – having said that, the chorus is fairly easy to chant along to. On a par with ”it’s coming home” from ’3 Lions’, ”Forever England” may well be heard across the terraces in South Africa.
Shuttleworth featuring Mark E. Smith ‘England’s Heartbeat’
He may have been the front man of John Peel’s (apparently) favourite band of all time, The Fall, but that doesn’t mean Mark E. Smith should try his hand at football anthems. The video to the song has the words up on screen. Perhaps it’s for karaoke purposes; perhaps it’s because Smith’s mumbled ‘singing’ is at times inaudible. Whatever the reason, it in no way makes the song better. Unlike Tezza’s effort, this isn’t for charity. Avoid.
England Band: Joe Public – ‘Cabanga (Come On England)’
‘Cabanga’ is a Zulu word meaning ‘imagine’ and, other than the word ‘hope’ there’s no more an appropriate word for the England World Cup team. Imagine if we DID get to the final? This cheery chant has every chance of appearing in the Top 10 this week. A novelty record in a similar vein to ’3 Lions’, this is simple, lively and likely to win the hearts of the footy fans.
Now obviously (and thankfully), not all of this week’s releases are football related. Here’s a round-up of some non-sporting singles vying to make it into the charts.
Clock Opera – ‘A Piece Of String’
This Vampire Weekend/Paul Simon-esque song happens to be on the odd subject of the relationship between a ventriloquist and his dummy. An interesting track full of crazy sampling, the weird subject is made even eerier due to the calm vocals on top of the frantic music – which builds up to a rather abrupt ending.
The Exhibition – ‘The Crown/Coma’
This double A-Side from Barnsley based band The Exhibition is a bit disappointing. ‘The Crown’ starts off rather threateningly, building into a less aggressive and slightly repetitive track. The vocals drone on somewhat, although the music ascends into quite a frenzied affair toward the end. ‘The Coma’, meanwhile, is slightly more upbeat, but singer Pete Dand’s vocals are a bit, well, boring.
Glee – ‘Poker Face’
Just as World Cup chat is reaching fever-pitch, you can’t go anywhere these days without seeing or hearing something from Glee. There are a few singles out from the cast this week – but this is an interesting, stripped down version sung by main character Rachel – who, rather aptly, is as crazy as the GaGa herself – and features musical theatre star Idina Menzel.
Mumford and Sons ‘Roll Away Your Stone’
Another standard folk-pop song from the band. In a similar format to their previous singles – Mumford’s gruff vocals backed up by the band, driven forward by the usual banjo/drums/guitar/double bass combo. It’s nice, but all of their songs are starting to merge into one now.
Tinie Tempah – ‘Frisky’
The grime scene’s man of the moment, ‘Frisky’ has enough variety within the song itself to keep it interesting. Tinie is hot on the heels of Dizzee Rascal – and if he keeps his music as fresh as this, he may avoid the by-the-wayside sound that his counterpart has fallen into.
Luckily, these days, with the price of a digital single normally less than a pound, you can treat yourself to two – sometimes even three – singles for the price of one cassette tape. Just try not to make any of them a novelty choice. You’ll only have yourself to blame when the Top 10 is full of football chants.