Euro 2020 is here and it wouldn’t be a football tournament without a healthy dose of football songs. We’ve put together a list of 20 of the best England football songs of all time. Be warned that finding 20 was easier said than done, so there are some fairly poor entries in the lower reaches of the list.
Top 20 England football songs
20. Dizzee Rascal & James Corden – Shout For England (2010)
Getting the list underway is Shout For England by Dizzee Rascal, which samples Blackstreet’s No Diggity. It is by no means the worst song on this list and is actually one of four England songs to have topped the UK Charts.
However, the inclusion of James Corden is unforgivable and therefore it has to be automatically relegated at least six or seven places to the very bottom. A real shame.
19. Stan Boardman – Stan’s World Cup Song (2006)
It felt controversial at the time and 15 years later, in a woker world, you definitely wouldn’t get away with it. With lyrics like “Singing ay-yay-yippee, the German’s bombed our chippy” and “We’ll be taking lots of banners and some flags, there’ll be 30 lads with ASBOs wearing tags” we don’t have much choice other than to put this one near the bottom. It’s still above James Corden though.
18. Spice Girls feat. England United – How Does It Feel? (To Be On Top Of The World) (1998)
Hands up if you remember the Spice Girls forming a supergroup with Ocean Colour Scene and Echo and the Bunnymen? Me neither. However, that is indeed what happened in 1998 with the group singing the distinctly forgetful ‘How Does It Feel?’.
Considering that the Spice Girls were the biggest pop act in the world at the time, and it was the height of the Britpop era, it does feel weird that they were only roped in to sing the chorus.
17. 442 – Come On England (2004)
A reworking of Dexy’s Midnight Runners classic ‘Come on Eileen’ with the word ‘Eileen’ cleverly substituted out for ‘England’, gives 442 their entry on our list of England football songs.
It’s not absolutely terrible but is probably best enjoyed in the background of a very busy and noisy pub when you’re not really paying attention. That’s about the best that can be said of it unfortunately.
16. Chris Kamara – Sing for England (2012)
Riding on the crest of a Soccer Saturday wave, Kammy released his own England song in 2012 and it’s not bad in honesty. If it sounds a bit club singer-ish that’s because it is, he’s quite literally singing in a club in the video.
Loses marks for shamelessly crowbarring in his signature ‘unbelievable’ catchphrase several times, whilst looking smugly into the camera. Just cover ‘EMF – Unbelievable’ and be done with it Kammy.
15. Bell & Spurling – Sven, Sven, Sven
Bell & Spurling offered two England football songs for the price with their double release of Sven, Sven, Sven along with Golden Balls, a love letter to David Beckham. However, as Sven, Sven, Sven has lyrics more directly related to England it takes is the nominated entry on the list.
And when we say ‘more related to England’ we’re talking about such gems as “Stevie, Stevie, Stevie, Stevie Gerrard, he mugged Dietman Hamman cause he is well ‘ard, we can play that Jordan with her jelly bags and when we win the World Cup she’ll get them out for the lads”. Pure poetry.
14. Tony Christie – (Is This The Way To) The World Cup (2006)
You have to hand it to Tony Christie for milking every last penny from his biggest hit which has been released more times than The Mitchell Brothers from Walford Police Station.
Like ‘Come on England’ before it, it’s basically the same song as the original with England-themes lyrics crudely crowbarred in but ranks a few places higher for being ten percent more singable.
13. Black Grape – England’s Irie (1995)
If you’re under 30 you may never have heard this one which was released in the build up to Euro 96. Sung by Black Grape (Shaun Ryder and Bez of the Happy Mondays) as well as Keith Allen and Joe Strummer. It’s pretty bonkers and very 90’s but weirdly good.
12. Grandad Roberts and His Son Elvis – Meat Pie, Sausage Roll (1998)
I could listen to Meat Pie, Sausage Roll 100 times and I still wouldn’t believe that it’s not bonus content on a Pheonix Nights DVD. It’s purely for that reason and the sheer, unbridled novelty madness of it that it features so high up this list. It really shouldn’t though because it’s terrible.
11. Simply Red – We’re In This Together (1995)
Shouldn’t technically count on this list as it was the official song of Euro ’96 rather than the England national team. However, as it was an English tournament it makes the cut because, otherwise, we’re struggling for 20.
A great song with a distinctly 90s feel and video. It never got the popularity it deserved due to the terrible timing of its release alongside a song higher up this list which blew all others out of the water.
10. Fat Les – Jerusalem (2000)
Making their first entry on the England football songs list, music royalty Fat Les. Although Jerusalem is generally closer associated with rugby union, the Fat Les lads (Alex James from Blur, Keith Allen and Damien Hirst) produced a stirring rendition of the classic hymn which, although perhaps not massively singable, definitely stirs sporting emotion.
9. Collapsed Lung – Eat My Goal (1996)
Another quite tenuous entry given that its primary connection to England was a Coca-Cola advertising campaign during Euro 96. However, as previously mentioned we’re struggling for 20 and it’s a damn sight better and more relevant to football than the bastardised version of Come On Eileen.
8. England Supporters Band – Great Escape (2000)
One of the biggest issues with many England football songs is that they are overcomplicated and, thus, difficult to engage with. Thousands of inebriated England supporters aren’t going to be able to memorise and sing complicated choruses, especially if they’re not catchy.
The theme to the 1963 classic ‘The Great Escape’ is simplicity and catchiness in a bottle. It only requires 33x ‘der der ders’ followed by ‘England’ at the end, making it ideal ‘England on tour’ foil.
7. Embrace – World At Your Feet (2006)
The official England song for the 2006 World Cup is, dare I say it, a tad underrated. With a precedent for 90s UK indie bands releasing England songs already set at this point, the mantle was handed to Embrace who delivered the rousing World At Your Feet. A very strong song which suffers, from a supporters point of view, by not being especially easy to sing along to.
6. 1970 World Cup Squad – Back Home (1970)
With more recent England football songs bemoaning the decades without a victory at an international tournament, it’s hard to imagine the sense of pride and expectation that the nation must have felt in 1970 as the world champions travelled to Mexico to defend their title, having sung their own song.
It’s something that comes across in the fiercely proud and patriotic opening lyrics “Back home they’ll be thinking about us when we are far away, they’ll be really behind us in every game we play”. Unfortunately for England, they were indeed back home following the quarter-finals, with West Germany inflicting revenge in a rematch of the 1966 final.
5. The Farm – All Together Now (2004)
The original version of All Together Now was released in 1990 with its poignant lyrics referencing the 1914 Christmas Day Truce between the opposing forces in World War I, as they laid down their weapons to exchange gifts and play football in no-mans-land.
Re-released in 2004 for England’s European Championship campaign, it has been a mainstay of TV shows, adverts and tournament time jukeboxes ever since.
4. Ant & Dec – We’re On The Ball (2002)
With the 2002 World Cup looming, British TV’s favourite Geordies continued an imperious musical odyssey that had begun eight years earlier under the guise of their alter-egos PJ & Duncan with the masterful Let’s Get Ready To Rumble.
They released We’re On The Ball which, after an inauspicious start, delivers a very catchy chorus. More pertinently, at the time of release there was an immense sense of satisfaction when you finally memorised “It’s Neville to Campbell, Cambell to Rio, Rio to Scholesy, Scholes Gerrard” and so on.
3. Fat Les – Vindaloo
Initially written as a parody of football songs, with the video also very evidently mocking The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony, the popularity of Vindaloo soared to the extent that it became one the most iconic England anthems in its own right.
Written by Keith Allen and Blur bassist Alex James, the song’s snare drum beat almost feels like a rallying call to fans with the subject matter, vindaloo, acting as a very strong nod to the laddish football culture of the time. It’s tongue in cheek but that doesn’t detract from how good it is.
2. New Order – World In Motion (1990)
Look, I can already hear the gnashing of teeth and the furious typing to express absolute outrage that World In Motion isn’t number one on this list but hear me out. World In Motion is clearly the best song on the list, it’s almost too good to be a football song and, if you removed the commentary and John Barnes rap (why would you though?) it could easily pass as an incredibly strong late 80s / early 90s pop song in its own right.
The lyrics were written by Keith Allen, who also wrote Vindaloo and England’s Irie, making him the undisputed GOAT when it comes to England football songs. The cult of World In Motion remains loyal and fierce 30 years later and you couldn’t begrudge anybody who argues that it’s the best England song. However, for me, it narrowly misses out owing the the perfect cultural storm which surrounded the number one entry on the list.
1. Baddiel, Skinner & The Lightning Seeds – Three Lions (1996)
Yes, you guessed it, the iconic Three Lions takes number one spot on our list of the greatest England football songs ever. As football fever swept the nation ahead of a home tournament in 1996, Fantasy Football hosts and comedians, David Baddiel and Frank Skinner, as well as Liverpudlian indie band The Lightning Seeds released a song which would go on to become the de facto chant of England fans around the world as well as breaking numerous chart records.
Having sold 1.6m copies, it’s one of the biggest selling British singles ever. It’s the only song ever to top the UK charts four times with the same line up and is one of just three songs to top the charts twice with reworked lyrics, alongside Band Aid and… err… Mambo No. 5 / Bob The Builder.
Despite receiving its fair share of criticism for being jingoistic, the repeated lyrics of ‘It’s Coming Home’ actually gloss over the song’s true meaning which is the feeling of hope against the odds which has defined England’s international struggles for the last five decades. As David Baddiel correctly stated, it is truly the ultimate football anthem and the only tragedy for England fans is that 30 years of hurt is now 55 years of hurt. Now, all together…. ‘It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming…’.
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