Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Please don't give up the day job

I feel I must warn you now that this evening's post will not make for comfortable reading. The subject matter makes me cringe somewhat, and I have been putting off bringing this up for some time. But I can no longer ignore it. An inevitable evil. Such as taxation, death and politicians. Not nice but unfortunately very difficult to ignore.

This is something that comes around every year and no matter how much you try to avoid it, it will always seek you out. There really is no place to hide.

The dreaded FA Cup Final song.

Cardiff City and Portsmouth have already released their offerings for this year. Cardiff City’s official FA Cup Final song is "Bluebirds Flying High" by James Fox. Portsmouth have plumped for "Pompey Till I Die" by The Fratton End. Click on the links to listen. If I had to choose between the two, Cardiff’s effort would get my vote. Followed very closely by pulling out all my own teeth.

I have always found the annual Cup Final songs particularly bad. Footballers trying to sing. Players pretending to be hip, trendy and “with it”. Naff and cheesy tunes. Awfully choreographed videos. In the football world generally there have been some commendable efforts which include “Three Lions” by Baddiel, Skinner & Lightening Seeds and “World in Motion” by EnglandNewOrder, the latter spoilt somewhat by John Barnes attempts at rapping. And those two only really appeal as novelty tracks as opposed to anything remotely close to decent music. But when it comes specifically to FA Cup Final songs, they exist in a (sub)class of their own.

Here are the top five best performing FA Cup Final songs, based on record sales. In reverse order:

<5> Liverpool FC “The Anfield Rap (The Red Machine In Full Effect)” (1988).

Just what is it with those reverse baseball caps, sun glasses and gold chains? No, no, no. Written by Craig Johnston, it is no wonder he later escaped to Australia. The video features ludicrous mock streetwise appearances from Grobbelaar, Staunton, Whelan, Rush, Dalgleish and Hansen. And more Barnes rapping; "[Liverpool] don't just play they can rap as well." Sorry fellas, but you can't rap. And you really shouldn't.

<4> Tottenham Hotspur FA Cup Final Squad “Ossie’s Dream (Spurs Are On Their Way To Wembley)” (1981)

Why would a very good player and a half decent manager lower himself to this level? The least the producers could have done is dubbed Osvaldo Ardiles' painful efforts to pronounce the name of his club. This makes me feel physically ill each time I hear it. I keep a bucket by the sofa just in case I am caught unawares whilst watching an old recording of TOTP2. I can picture the video now, Chas (or is it Dave?) on the piano and Dave (or is it Chas?) on the drums, both framed with the Spurs squad waving scarves and flags and miming along. And Ossie's pathetic miming come to that. Pass the bucket.

<3> Chelsea FC "Blue Is The Colour" (1972)

Probably one of the genre defining FA Cup Final tracks. In 1970 we had the memorable England Word Cup squad offering of "Back Home" and the 1972 Chelsea record, which peaked at number five in the charts, was in the same vein. Nothing too complicated, a slightly plodding, dull tune, with mass team singing. Worryingly for me, I think I know all the lyrics and I can't stop humming this one as I write this post. Maybe it's the quality of the lyrics. "So cheer us on through the sun and rain, cos Chelsea, Chelsea is our name." Erm, maybe not.

<2> 1996 Manchester United FA Cup Squad "Move Move Move (The Red Tribe)" (1996).

Instantly forgettable. Reached number six in the charts. Don't ask me how. I'm not sure which was worse; the awful monotonous synthesised beat or the video of Schmeichel, Pallister, Giggs, Butt, Neville and others looking completely and utterly uncomfortable. Even Eric Cantona looks uncharacteristically uncool. Oh dear.

<1> Manchester United Football Club “Come on you Reds” (1994)

I can’t decide whether this is an awful Status Quo track made worse by this Manchester United effort or a bad song ruined even more because a Status Quo track was purloined. This track was number one for two weeks and spent fifteen weeks in the charts. Wet Wet Wet knocked them off the top spot with "Love Is All Around" which kind of further illustrates the type of crap music people were prepared to buy in 1994. Stick to the football lads.

My favourite ever football song? If I was forced to choose, it would have to be Bell & Spurling's lyrically excellent Sven Sven Sven 2002 [World Cup Version]. "Little Michael Owen did the Argies with his pace and handsome Martin Keown will scare them with his face". It starts with a classic thirty second audio clip of Jonathan Pearce's radio commentary of David Beckham's free-kick goal against Greece that sent England to the 2002 World Cup finals which sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it.

Now that's more like it.

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