Talent in a Previous Life

Because It's Never Just About the Music

Friday, February 03, 2006

The 99th Actual Worst Record, Ever 

If the kids are United, they will always be derided

As good ideas go, recording a football song must be up there with learning whether you can fly or not by jumping out of the top storey of a skyscraper, or seeing who's harder, you or a really pissed off grizzly bear by having a fight with one: there's a slim chance you might get some sort of success out of it, but you're more likely to end up looking a tad foolish. As TiaPL is Scotland-based, they're not something we really have to worry about too much, what with our nation being a bit rubbish at sports so not really finding itself on the world stage too often. When we do, however, at least we have the good grace to keep a sense of realism and get Del Amitri to record Just Go Out There And Do Your Best (And Try Not To Embarrass Yourselves) for us. England, however, see things differently. Despite the overwhelming evidence of what is now 40 years of hurt, they still genuinely believe they can win things and they want a song that reflects that.

1998 came around and England found themselves heading over to France for the World Cup full of big hopes, big dreams and big egos, so naturally they wanted a big song to go along with that. Unfortunately Baddiel & Skinner's Three Lions had already been used for Euro '96 and the FA didn't really want to get involved with those Fat Les oiks, so instead found themselves looking at the scrag end of the available talent. Fortunately the Spice Girls hadn't quite fallen apart by this stage so they were instantly brought on board to provide some artistic credibility and secure a few record sales. Had the deliberations stopped there then they might have ended up with a single which, if not actually good - it would still be a football song after all - might at least have been halfway listenable. Unfortunately the powers that be clearly felt that - shock, horror - a pop group, particularly one composed of - heavens to murgatroyd - girls, may not quite chime with the tastes of the average England fan. Given that the tastes of an average England fan seem to start and end with a dodgy kebab, the only thing that would appeal to them would be an unpleasant mess and, with that in mind, a 'supergroup' was promptly concocted.

The term 'Supergroup' brings to mind many things. It brings to mind a collision of diverse talents, all striving to outdo each other in pursuit of musical perfection. It brings to mind a chance for some of the best in the business to collaborate on something truly special. It also brings to mind The Power Station, but the less said about that, the better. One thing it certainly does not bring to mind at all is Echo and the Bunnymen, Ocean Colour Scene and Space all trying to prove to the others who the most mediocre talent in the recording studio was, but for the FA this seemed to be the perfect combination and England United was born. Or, rather, spawned.

As realism is an unknown force when it comes to England's songs, the track they decided to record wasn't (How Does it Feel To Get Knocked Out in the Early Stages of the Tournament) Probably on Penalties, but instead was an inspiring ditty called (How Does it Feel to Be) On Top of the World, and by 'inspiring' we mean 'depressingly dull'. The Spice Girls' good name was besmirched by their involvement in this record - and we wouldn't be surprised if it was this that caused Geri to begin thinking about leaving the band. It sounded much like you'd expect a record written by Ocean Colour Scene, Space, and Echo and the Bunnymen to sound like: a horrible sludgey mess containing all the redeeming features of a bucket of mud. Fair play to the Spice Girls though, they did their best to inject the whole thing with a bit of pep, but you could tell their hearts weren't really in it. But then, the same was true when Ian McCulloch, Tommy Scott and Steve Craddock were all forced to don sparkly tops and 3/4 length trousers to join the Girls for a synchronised dance routine on Top of the Pops, so perhaps it all balances out in the end.