Entertainment & Arts

Euro 2016: Three Lions 'killed off the football anthem'

Baddiel and Skinner
Image caption Three Lions was written by Baddiel and Skinner while they presented the TV show Fantasy Football League

With the Euro 2016 football tournament starting on Friday, the England team have yet to reveal an official song, and David Baddiel thinks he knows why.

"I can tell you why there isn't one, and why there hasn't been one for a while," the comedian told BBC News.

"And that's because Three Lions killed off the football anthem quite conclusively. There were a few attempts after 1996 but no-one managed it.

"And that's because it is the best football anthem of all time."

Baddiel added: "I know I shouldn't say that, but I'm pretty sure it is. It has been voted that several times.

"But I think that's a shame. It's a shame it's been killed off."

Baddiel, along with Frank Skinner and the Lightning Seeds, scored a number one hit with Three Lions in the run-up to Euro 1996, which was held in England.

The song, with its signature lyric "30 years of hurt", eventually sold more than 1.5 million copies - making it the 30th best-selling single of all time in the UK.

Image copyright Sony BMG
Image caption Three Lions is still sung on the terraces, 20 years after its debut

Subsequent England songs - including Ant & Dec's On The Ball (2002) - failed to make a lasting impression; and the Football Association has not commissioned an official song since Embrace's World At Your Feet in 2006.

Although Three Lions was re-written for the 1998 World Cup, Baddiel says he has resisted pressure to record it again.

"A lot of people have been asking me why we aren't doing another one. The reason is the same - we can't top Three Lions.

"Instead of 30 years of hurt, it's now 50 years of hurt. So we could have gone into a studio just to re-record that bit. But we haven't done. People can sing it over if they want to."

Manic anthem

Earlier this year, Stormzy, Louis Tomlinson, Kasabian and Olly Murs were rumoured to be writing England's anthem but bookmakers have stopped taking bets as the tournament approaches.

However, Black Grape have recorded an unofficial song, We Are England, which is due out on Friday.

Singer Shaun Ryder called it "a football anthem for the people" and said it was recorded in Manchester last month with Paul Oakenfold and Goldie.

"We mish-mashed something together and we made this really cool tune, which I hope everyone will be singing," he told BBC News. "The chorus goes, 'England 'til I die.'"

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Media captionEuro 2016: Manic Street Preachers perform Welsh anthem on One Show

Meanwhile, the Welsh squad have enlisted the Manic Street Preachers to write Together Stronger (C'Mon Wales) as their Euro 2016 anthem.

Lyricist Nicky Wire acknowledged the "pressure" of writing a song to represent the whole country, saying: "We wanted to make a great Manics song first and I think we pulled it off.

"If the song takes off on the terraces, there's not going to be many more finer moments than that."

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Media captionNorthern Ireland players sing 'Will Grigg's on fire'

Northern Ireland are also lacking an official song. However, their Euro 2016-bound players have recorded a version of the viral hit Will Grigg's On Fire.

Based on Gala's 1990s club hit Freed from Desire, the song pays tribute to Grigg, whose goals helped Wigan win the League One title.

BBC Sport theme

The BBC's coverage of Euro 2016 also has its own theme song, recorded by up-and-coming star Izzy Bizu.

La Foule is a re-recording of the famous Edith Piaf song, featuring a jazzy backbeat and a rousing string crescendo.

Bizu described the invitation to record the track as "just the most random thing I've ever heard".

"But I like spontaneous things," she continued. "When stuff like that happens I'm just like, 'that's really cool and unusual and sweet'.

"It's what music's all about, it's nice."

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Media captionIzzy Bizu and the BBC Concert Orchestra rework Edith Piaf’s famous French song, La Foule.

The star, who does not speak any French, had to learn the song phonetically, and apologised for any mistakes.

"To an English audience it's like 'oh, it's all right' but I hope the French like my accent!"

The singer, whose real name is Isobel Beardshaw, said singing alongside the BBC Concert Orchestra was the experience of a lifetime.

She said: "They are so professional. They go in, they take two hours to get an Edith Piaf song completely right. They all have to play at the same time and no one can make a mistake. And then the sound of the strings when you hear it live is so so beautiful - I literally had hairs going up on my arms."

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