As the FA has decided not to appoint an official song for England this year, this responsibility now falls to us: the peopleby Chris Lochery / June 7, 2018 / Leave a comment
When football songs are done well, the effect can be transformative. Composing a tune that is capable of uniting fans who in any ordinary week would be one another’s sworn enemies is no mean feat. But writing something that can unite an entire nation—turning the stadium electric and bolstering the spirits of our squad to victory—is something close to magic.
As the FA has decided not to appoint an official song for England this year, this responsibility now falls to us: the people.
Winning when we’re singing
To help us select something that will best aid England’s chances, I set the sheet music of our previous World Cup songs alongside our respective finishing positions in each tournament to see if there were any musical elements common across our successes (such as they are) and failures.
England’s best performance since winning the cup in ’66 came in 1990: the year of New Order’s World In Motion—a classic of the genre that can teach us plenty about what makes a truly great footie anthem.
First, the melody. To ensure fans can sing along in full voice, we need it pitched in an accessible key with a simple melody. That way, the largest crowd possible is able to join in with it, regardless of their skill or technical ability.
Part of the reason that songs like Three Lions and Vindaloo have been such enduring classics (despite never getting the official FA nod) is because their choruses are extremely simple. Both songs’ melodies fit within a single octave, and both have main hooks that span five notes, moving in gentle steps up and down.
This helps to make them memorable, but—more practically—they’re easy to transpose up or down the octave to best suit a wide range of voices.
From its lowest note (Db4) to its highest (B5), the entirety of World In Motion spans a mere seven notes. Most voice types can find an octave, high or low, that will allow them to belt that out quite comfortably.
Something as obvious as “a simple melody” may seem like common sense, but try telling that to Gary Barlow, who turned in a song in 2014 with a chorus that featured…