On a cassette tape in a box in a storage room in the back of a recording studio somewhere, there quite possibly exists this: a Chris Waddle rap.
Despite John Barnes’ already well-proven pedigree as a rubbish rapper (see the Anfield Rap of two years prior), it was apparently never a given that he would perform the rap on World In Motion, England’s official song for the 1990 World Cup in Italy as written and performed by New Order. Instead, heavily under the influence of alcohol, what took place was a “rap-off” for the privilege between the six players who had bothered to turn up that day: John Barnes, Paul Gascoigne, Des Walker, Steve McMahon, Peter Beardsley and Waddle.
Barnes’ cack rapping experience of course won out and ensured that it was his slurringly strung-together monotone verses about defending and attacking and getting, um, “round the back” that capped – let’s face it – one of the only great football songs ever recorded. But it feels like a missed opportunity to have ignored mullet-sporting Geordie wing wizard Waddle. After all, he had history in this department (kind of), having reached the heady heights of Number 12 in 1987 with (the admittedly appalling) Diamond Lights, a duet with England and Spurs teammate Glenn Hoddle.
Such is the wonder and ridiculousness but mostly just ridiculousness of the World Cup song. How do some of the musical contenders for Russia 2018 measure up? And could any of them be made worse by a Chris Waddle rap? If you don’t want to know the answer in advance then look away now (no).
Live It Up
Will Smith, Nicky Jam, Era Istrefi and Diplo
As Will famously never said in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: “Dammit Carlton, I can’t believe Mario Götze never made the Germany squad but Timo Werner’s form at RB Leipzig this season has been too good to overlook!” Yes it’s that renowned connoisseur of the global game Will Smith leading the line-up Big Willy Style on the officially official World Cup anthem (there are many official anthems but this is the official-est). Live It Up also features Colombia-based reggaeton star Nicky Jam and Kosovar pop singer Era Istrefi, and is produced by Diplo. It’s exactly as entertaining a performance as you’d expect from a misfit team chucked together with enough consideration to make your average Neil Warnock starting 11 look painstakingly assembled by comparison.
1 Chris Waddle out of five
Jason Derulo, Si Lemhaf, Abdelhafid Douzi, Tamer Hosny, Maluma and Cassper Nyovest
The melody of this predictably themed globo-pop bore lingers as long as the taste of the popular brand of carbonated soft drink it’ll promote at this year’s tournament. Of the contribution of the most famous name involved, Jason Derulo, the most positive thing I can think to say is at least he isn’t just saying “Jason Derulo” all the time, as he’s wont to. The other lot I’m afraid I’m going to have to dismiss with much the same lazy off-handedness Mark Lawrenson might the squad of whichever minor footballing nation he hasn’t bothered reading the brief on before commentating on their group stages game. Still, a bonus Waddle for having enough players for a game of fives.
2 Chris Waddles out of 5
What I Gotta Do (Message to the Team)
There’s no official England World Cup song for Russia 2018, but that hasn’t stopped the usual rush of unofficial contenders vying to be chanted on the terraces. Among them Y.O.U.N.G – no relation to Ashley Young – a bunch of Mancunian “alt-pop rap rockers”, whose vocalist Chez Davis incidentally played for Burnley and Man City’s youth teams, and who holds the not-unimpressive goalscoring record of 111 in a season for elite Manchester footballing stable Fletcher Moss Rangers (alumni include Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Danny Welbeck). It’s not really clear what their “message to the team” is other than pointing out some basics of football (“keep moving forward!”, “get on your man!”), but judging by recent woeful England performances at major tournaments maybe it’s not the worst advice.
3 Chris Waddles out of 5
United by Love
It’s like high-stakes geopolitics played out in cheesy Latin-flavoured dance-pop song form, as Uruguayan singer and ex-telenovelas actress Oreiro’s lyrics sung variously in Russian and English tussle for linguistic supremacy, with a bit of Spanish thrown in here and there as a sort of mediator. A translator is not required to understand her tensions-soothing kumbaya-ing message about how “we are united by one love”. Precisely the sort of sentiment I’m sure many foreign fans will be attempting to convey to hard-as-nails looking Russian ultras in three-quarter-length trousers and ski masks, not long before they get clubbed about the head with a plastic patio chair.