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Musicians World Cup songs fame

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

London (Reuters): Singing sheep, a ''crazy'' cartoon frog and a disgraced former MP-the English may not lift the trophy but when it comes to the World Cup pop charts, they're hard to beat. As 32 teams limber up for the start of the tournament in Germany next week, at least as many artists, from well-known acts to the downright weird, will begin a frenzied battle of their own to be number one. For music fans or those wanting to avoid the month-long frenzy surrounding the soccer, there's little chance of escape.

''Certainly the top 20 or 30 (in the charts) could be populated by at least 10 or 12 of these particular tracks when the World Cup gets under way'' said Gennaro Castaldo from music retailer HMV. Soccer-inspired pop songs have long been a British tradition since the England squad, led by legendary defender Bobby Moore, went to number one during the 1970 World Cup in Mexico with their song ''Back Home''.

British band New Order then made the format credible with music fans in 1990 with their chart-topping hit ''World In Motion'', which featured a rap by England winger John Barnes. That was followed by ''Three Lions'', penned by well-known British comedy duo Frank Skinner and David Baddiel, which became an anthem for England fans, topping the charts in both 1996 and 1998. But this time round, the dizzying array of singles varies from the official Football Association-approved track by Indie band Embrace, to long-forgotten stars, ageing comedians and the frankly bizarre.

''Everyone's having a go whether they've got a well-known profile or they are just some local band hoping to make it into the charts and get 15 minutes of fame'' Castaldo told Reuters. The media have also jumped on the patriotic bandwagon with newspapers and radio stations lending their support to some of the various acts. The Tonedef Allstars, featuring Geoff Hurst who scored a hat-trick in England's only World Cup triumph in 1966, are backed by The Sun, Britain's best-selling daily paper, for their ''Who Do You Think You Are Kidding, Juergen Klinsmann'' song.

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