Apr 09

SURVIVOR – “Eye Of The Tiger”

FT + Popular76 comments • 4,985 views

#507, 4th September 1982

Before I talk about Survivor I’m going to talk about me a little. Skip down a few paragraphs if you don’t care.

There. Now, I was lucky enough to have a happy childhood. And from mid ’82 to late ’84 it was at its happiest. Not dramatically joyful or anything, not eventful even – just the simple, hassle- and hormone-free happiness of the boy of 9 or 10 who knows what he enjoys and has the space and security to get on with it. Simple, nerdy stuff. Books. The BBC Micro. Camping trips. School projects. Youth theatre groups. Doctor Who. Dungeons & Dragons. The radio.

Being happy didn’t mean I liked all the pop music I heard at the time. Far from it. Some of it I hated. (And hating it was something else to make me happy). But the result is that on some level I like almost all of it now. The suffusing marshmallow memory of my happiness has subsumed my judgement, smoothed it out. I feel safe in saying that there is not a single record which charted in 1983 that I couldn’t get some base nostalgic pleasure out of even if my higher brain functions were screaming out against it.

Will this make any difference to how I write Popular entries? I have no idea. But it seemed fair to warn you against it.

And now, let’s talk about Survivor.

On the Irene Cara thread there was some talk about American triumphalism and swagger in pop – in contrast to the more playful tones of British New Pop. Obviously, “Fame” is like Noel Coward compared to “Eye Of The Tiger”, which was specially commissioned to be as pummelling and bombastic as is musically possible. Does it succeed?

Yes, indeed too well. If this was a boxing match, the hero would flatten his opponent within the first fifteen seconds. The taut, macho bassline and punchbag riff that open the track are awesome: the only problem is that Survivor have to follow them with a song, and “Eye Of The Tiger” predictably underwhelms. It’s already said everything it needs to with devastating economy – all this “man and his will to survive” stuff is just labouring the point, and the longer it goes on the more you doubt it.

Perhaps theirs was an impossible task – though when Destiny’s Child got their hands on something very like the “Tiger” bassline for “Bootylicious” they built a killer song on top. On the other hand, there are many bands who strain for years without producing anything as primal as the first fifteen seconds of “Eye”: Survivor’s failure to capitalise – in both a track and career sense – can’t take that away from them.



  1. 1
    Billy Smart on 20 Apr 2009 #

    Exactly, Tom. Effective for 15 seconds, tedious for the whole length of the song.

    Nowadays, someone like Daft Punk would loop the good bit, subtly altering it as the single evolved. I’d call that progress!

  2. 2
    Billy Smart on 20 Apr 2009 #

    #2 Watch: A mixed bag. A week of Duran Duran’s ‘Save A Prayer’ (a single which always seems to be trying too hard to me, even though I’m quite fond of it), then a week of Dire Straits’ toothgrindingly dull ‘Private Investigations’, followed by two weeks of The Jam’s ‘The Bitterest Pill’ – The Style Council starts here!

  3. 3
    Tom on 20 Apr 2009 #

    Yeah “Save A Prayer” is trying too hard definitely – “look! we can do big ballads too!”: every pop act does it, few emerge stronger for the attempt.

  4. 4
    SteveM on 20 Apr 2009 #

    ‘Save A Prayer’ sounds pretty weird for a top 3 hit tho – even today?

  5. 5
    Pete Baran on 20 Apr 2009 #

    Its around here I really start to notice the film / pop crossover stuff (which I had been aware of since Saturday Night Fever but not as a negative thing). This is where VCR’s start becoming a bit more attainable by local kids early adopting parents (the first pirate video i saw was Flash Gordon), and for some reason the kids of said aspirational parents always seemed to be the bullies in my School. So whilst The Eye Of The Tiger is to many the theme to Rocky III, having not seen it at the time, but aware of its boxing lineage, it is the theme to copious dead arms and the odd yaroop to me.

  6. 6
    SteveM on 20 Apr 2009 #

    i think E.T. was the first pirate video i saw. it unnerved me.

  7. 7
    lex on 20 Apr 2009 #

    This is where I get born! Me! Me! Me!

    I agree w/Tom: this is very obviously a soundtrack to a specific film scene rather than a song in its own right, I can hear that even though I’ve never seen Rocky. (I can pretty much imagine the scene in my mind despite only having the vaguest idea of what the film is about, that’s how powerful it is.) I’m also sure that I was aware of the instrumental way before I even knew there was a song on top – listening back, the song feels like an afterthought which actually diminishes the power of the riff and defuses the tension in the bassline – I find the OTT vocal a bit silly, really, which takes away from the awe you need to feel for the music to work.

    Appropriate that Destiny’s Child are mentioned – not only for the ‘Bootylicious’ but also for their own knock-out swagger track, which I guess we’re not allowed to discuss further! But talking about swagger in a more general sense – while I don’t go to tracks like ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ so much for it – I dig the menacing arrogance of hip-hop and the feminised fierceness of DC-style R&B more – triumphalism and swagger is hugely important to what I love about the best pop, and I’m pleased to have been born under its star.

  8. 8
    Erithian on 20 Apr 2009 #

    Briefly – this kind of thing that leaves me pretty cold for many of the reasons listed above. And I have to say something about the Rocky films. Stallone interviewed a real Philadelphia boxer, one Joe Frazier, before writing “Rocky”, and incorporated elements of Frazier’s real-life training methods – using refrigerated sides of beef as punching bags, running up the Art Museum steps – into Rocky Balboa’s. Which of the two, Smokin’ Joe or Rocky, ended up living in a couple of rooms alongside his gym, and which of the two has a statue in Philadelphia? Go figure.

    But those are a stonking trio of Number 2 hits – sorry, but the Duran and Dire Straits songs are things of beauty in my book. “Private Investigations” is from “Love Over Gold”, which got me through some pretty low times in the otherwise great period that’s coming up, and which has half as many tracks as the better-known “Brothers in Arms” but twice as many ideas. And “Save a Prayer” for me is just glorious – that might put me out on a limb in this company, but there you go, it’s my favourite Duran song.

  9. 9
    Pete Baran on 20 Apr 2009 #

    Private Investigations has been completely rescued from tedious ignominy by Dick & Dom’s DC Harry Batt one of the more obscure long running gags on their kids show).

  10. 10
    Brian on 20 Apr 2009 #

    RE # 8 ‘ Erithians comments about Rocky.

    There was quite a buzz around Rocky when it came out because Stalone had written, starred , directed and produced his own film on his own. At the time he was the rank outsider – no Hollywood help – and this was as indie as you could get at this time.

    Yes , it’s a franchise now but there was a certain nobility to what Stalone was able to achieve with his original vision.

    As for the song – whether you like ti or not it’ll always be the ” Rocky” song and personally I can’t stand the guys voice. Sounds like he’s getting a weggie from Sly!

  11. 11
    Pete Baran on 20 Apr 2009 #

    Triple Oscar Winning Rocky you mean: that beat All The Presidents Men, Network and Taxi Driver for Best Picture in 1977? I think its a terrific movie.

  12. 12
    lex on 20 Apr 2009 #

    Also, re: ‘Bootylicious’ – did ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ steal from ‘Edge Of Seventeen’ or vice versa?

  13. 13
    AndyPandy on 20 Apr 2009 #

    Bang on Erithian with your comments at No 8.
    I think ‘Save A Prayer’ was one of those tracks that it was almost criminal that it was not Number One being well crafted, well produced and commercial. Easily my favourite Duran single (although not song that hounour going to the single that should have been ‘The Chauffeur’… IMO one of the greatest tracks of all time…

    And re ‘Private Investigations’ what a pleasant surprise that something so undeniably atmospheric and evocative should get so high in the charts.

  14. 14
    wichitalineman on 20 Apr 2009 #

    Re 10: Ah! You beat me to the punch! Aside from the anti-climax of the four minutes or so that follow the intro, the record is gelded by the singer. “It’s the eeyyyye!!”… he sings like he’s got his shirt off but he’s tichy. He sounds like a miniature of a man, maybe standing on the bow of a ship in a bottle (except that makes it sound quite good). Oh still, small voice of irredeemable weediness.

    This is the closest we’ll get to an American AOR Popular entry, isn’t it? Barring a European pastiche and a Rock Gospel variation, that is…

    So, a quick tip of the hat to other hi-gloss, airbrushed early 80s AOR 45s that each deserved one of Survivor’s five interminable weeks at the top: Toto’s Hold The Line; John Cougar’s Jack & Diane; Jefferson Starship’s Jane; Bryan Adams’ Summer Of 69; and, one that can genuinely make me well up, REO Speedwagon’s Keep On Lovin’ You.

    Private Investigations sounded absolutely weird at the time, so queerly dated it was almost a novelty record; it would be like an unreconstructed UK Garage single reaching no.2 now. That quiet passage followed by the epic guitar? Hadn’t heard anything like that on the radio for several years; as a child of the immediate pre-punk era it was entirely new, disconcertingly like a longhair record, and an early sign that the punk wars had only been a battle won.

  15. 15
    AndyPandy on 20 Apr 2009 #

    I don’t think ‘Private Investigatins’ had an especially epic guitar sound and instead remained pretty moody and underplayed throughout – and pre or post punk I dont think anything quite like this ie almost ambient in mood had ever graced the top of the charts before.
    A classic addition to the more ambient end of Balearic spectrum – I remember hearing it in a couple of chill out sets in the late 80s and thought (stupidly in retrospect) that they should bang a few low key beats on it and release a remix when obviously that would have just destroyed a lot of what makes it so good…

    and ps it was also different to have a Geordie voice mumbling over it rather than the usual American or American-sounding Briton most tracks would have gone for..

  16. 16
    wichitalineman on 20 Apr 2009 #

    Andy, I didn’t mean to suggest it wasn’t moody and atmospheric, like the score for a neon-lit noir set in Sunderland (love interest with hair like one of Kid Creole’s Coconuts).

    Maybe ‘epic’ is the wrong word, but there’s a chunky old powerchord at 3.59 that came as an almighty shock if you first heard it, as I did, on a transistor radio, lying on my bed in a Chester youth hostel.

  17. 17
    Tom on 20 Apr 2009 #

    Yes, the singer is weedy, and the video underlines this point too, with him wearing a beret. Survivor were distinctly third-tier, I suspect.

  18. 18
    rosie on 20 Apr 2009 #

    For what it’s worth, I thought Private Investigations was wonderful then, and I still think so now. An exquisite little one-act noir drama. If it was a film it would be black-and-white, dark and moody and in soft focus.

  19. 19
    Ricardo on 20 Apr 2009 #

    “Survivor’s failure to capitalise – in (…) a (…) career sense”

    I know very well this is about the UK charts. But anyway, Billboard Hot 100’s statistics would disagree with you, Tom. “The Search Is Over” went Top 5 in 1984, “Burning Heart” (from Rocky IV, nonetheless) missed the jackpot by one place in ’85, and “Is This Love” went Top 10 somewhere around ’86/’87. All of them with a different lead singer: the one who many of us know as The Bloke Who Sang The Theme Tune To That Show Where David Hasselhoff And Pamela Anderson Preened Around On The Beach.

  20. 20
    Tom on 20 Apr 2009 #

    Fair play to Survivor then, I stand corrected!

  21. 21
    tim davidge on 20 Apr 2009 #

    #8: Yes, a rewarding run of No. 2’s, and a little further down the chart there was ABC’s final Top Ten entry, “All of my Heart”…

    I’ve got a book somewhere about “Kitsch Art”. In this book there is much of what one might expect; a certain amount of bad taste and sentimentality, a bit of political stuff, people trying it on to see if they’ll be taken seriously…and some of the most beautiful and powerful images I’ve ever seen. It occurred to me that pop music’s a bit like that.

    “All of my Heart” only got to No. 5, but the album that it (and a few other singles) came from, “A Lexicon of Love”, topped the charts. People simply bought the whole album and got that to No. 1 instead.

    Trevor Horn’s production incorporated “real” instrumental sounds alongside the synthesizers (he knew you couldn’t synthesize everything) and thus avoided the amorphous,gauzy sound that electronic production sometimes brings-you can pick out the sax, trumpet, trombone, bass, a harp…all of which give added impact to Martin Fry’s well-crafted and incisive lyrics. One of ABC’s best pieces, though, a string ensemble overture, regrouping the melodies from the whole work in classical fashion, wasn’t on the album at all but on the B-side of the above-mentioned single.

    One or two awkward moments (those familiar with contemporary Kenny Everett satire will know what I mean) but on the whole one of my favourite albums of all time.

    “Eye of the Tiger” I wouldn’t miss if I never ever heard it again.

  22. 22
    LondonLee on 21 Apr 2009 #

    “Save A Prayer” is my favourite Duran Duran single too, Julie Burchill once said it was a better Bond theme than the one they actually did.

    Nothing more to add about this other than, yes, it does start out very well and then dies after the first verse. Maybe even after the first line.

  23. 23
    peter goodlaws on 21 Apr 2009 #

    This was a passionate fave back in the day and was another prime example of my much maligned term “geezer music”. Today, when I listen to it, it annoys me but not too much to really get me ejecting my dummy from my cake hole, even though I have a personal reason for despising it now. When I was a callow youth, I used to be a member of a small health club in Devonshire Park, Eastbourne (where the ladies’ tennis tournament is played). Indeed the little brick building in which the club was housed was used as a changing room for the players and I used to remember, when I was showering down, that I was naked in the same way that Anna Kournikova had been in exactly the same place (yes, I know, I know…). One day, when I was in the club, cycling away, “Eye of the Tiger” came on and myself and the small group around me upted the ante. Great track to work out to. When it finished, on came…”Eye of the Tiger”. And then EOTT. And then that boxing record by Survivor. And then eye of the fucking tiger again. The club has since closed and I’m a member of a larger club now with several branches nationwide. I wasn’t too sorry when the Devonshire Park Fitness Centre shut, since I escaped from this darned record, and more importantly, my membership number was 666. There’s a revelation for you!

  24. 24
    fivelongdays on 21 Apr 2009 #

    Yes, I can understand if you think if the guys voice is a tad too high-pitched without being powerful – BUT! It’s got THAT intro and THAT riff and THAT chorus.

    I actually might give this 10.

  25. 25
    Tom on 21 Apr 2009 #

    #22 JB is wrong about that – “View To A Kill” (which I WILLED to #1 at the time but no dice) is perfect for the overripe decadence of late Moore Bond – and the jagged drums on it are a good fit for Miss Grace Jones’ appearance too.

    #23 This reminds me that “Tiger” is a very regular show-up in the Guardian’s “What’s Rocking Sport” feature.

  26. 26
    JonnyB on 21 Apr 2009 #

    I have a very strict rule never ever to listen to records that – possibly by no fault of their own – are chosen by the stadium PA people to celebrate a goal/point/people coming onto the pitch. Whether it is this track, ‘Simply the Best’ or the woman who constantly sings that she is ready to go. No good can come of them.

    Yes. Great introduction, switch stations when the song comes in. ‘Fame’ and then this – it is the invasion of the ubergloss.

    I quite liked ‘Private Investigations’ when I was a kid, although I suspect it was because I thought it was probably meaningful. But I still appreciate the drama. ‘Lexicon of Love’ is one of my top ‘feeling good on a Saturday morning’ records still – I didn’t really get into it until much later on, and it strikes me as the Dark Side of the Moon for the eighties in many ways.

    “I get sales talk from sales assistants – when all I want to do girl is lower your resistance” – truly, truly that is a barking mad yet wonderful lyric.

  27. 27
    snoball on 21 Apr 2009 #

    #2: “Save A Prayer” seems to me to be simultaneously trying too hard *and* not trying hard enough. The keyboard pyrotechnics versus Simon Le Bon’s vocals. I suppose that he’s trying to sound “jaded”, but he just sounds bored. Added to that, the song never really goes anywhere, there’s no tension-and-release, it just fades at the end like a deflating balloon.

  28. 28
    Glue Factory on 21 Apr 2009 #

    This is one of those records where the subsequent remix/version dominates my mind more than the original. I can’t really hear the intro without thinking “BLAM…BLAM BLAM BLAM (Craig David) BLAM BLAM BLAM”.

    As a ten-year-old, I loved this. I think it’s the American-ness that Tom talks about that does it; the fairly heavy guitars that have been polished and produced to within an inch-of-their life, it all fed my ideas of America being this big, brash, exciting place (much more so than Middlesex). Had Entertainment USA started at this point, if so I imagine it’s the sound Jonathan King would have been plugging at this time, although I’m not sure how much success he had.

    And AndyPandy, you’re right on the money about Private Investigations and Balearica. It definitely has that ill-defined quality about it.

  29. 29
    Mark M on 21 Apr 2009 #

    Re end of 28: Otherwise known as the Chris Rea factor?

  30. 30
    Billy Smart on 21 Apr 2009 #

    #26: Avoiding records played at sports stadia is generally a good rule of thumb, though I’d be sorry not to hear ‘Liquidator’, ‘Rock & Roll Part 1’ or ‘Theme From Z Cars’ again.

  31. 31
    JonnyB on 21 Apr 2009 #

    With rules of thumb, you must take the rough with the smooth, Billy. A sacrifice, sure, but a noble one.

  32. 32
    Izzy on 21 Apr 2009 #

    On celebration music played to drive up the frenzy at sports stadia, would organisers please note that THIS DOES NOT WORK. All that happens is that it drowns out the crowd, who then promptly shut up. My current pet hate is the guy who shouts ‘CHAM-PAYYYYyyyyyyy…’ over the drivers’ celebration in formula one.

    If you must try to hype things up, the only thing I can think of that might work would be playing the sound of a cheering crowd. Probably best to use a tape for this – amplifying the crowd’s own noise would risk the mother of all feedback loops.

  33. 33
    Billy Smart on 21 Apr 2009 #

    In about 1990, at a particularly low point in their fortunes, Watford FC did just that, strange amplified cries of “COME ON YOU HORNETS!” much louder than the actual sounds of muted dissatisfaction heard on the real terraces.

  34. 34
    Izzy on 21 Apr 2009 #

    I love that Watford story.

    As for Survivor, I don’t get the contempt for this at all. Pop is more than anything about great moments, and the intro to this is up there with the best. That alone would be enough. (it’s mirrored by a great intro to the video, where the singer walks down some mean streets and is joined by the band one by one – gang/camp effect only slightly ruined by the hilarious plaid shirts, huge spectacles and mullet ensemble sported by a couple of members) The rest of the song is perfectly fine – anthemic tune, great guitar, well put-together – though I’d agree that the vocals are a bit high. I wouldn’t necessarily want Robert Plant loose on it, but a Robert Plant soundalike could’ve done a fine job. It’s not a ten, but easily deserves an eight.

    I think I’m a couple years younger than Tom, so this only really registers with me as a Rock Classic. But ‘Burning Heart’ absolutely did the business for me when it was my turn. There was such glamour to boxing at that time, and the entry music was a big part of that – the intimacy (and I suppose inebriation) of boxing or darts shows that in some circumstances music-and-sports can be done well! I saw Rocky IV recently, and although there are great moments (Apollo Creed dancing to the ring), some of it is ludicrously overblown, like the cornermen arguing the merits of communism vs capitalism at the press conference – but it’s always enjoyable. Which I suppose makes Survivor the perfect soundtrack.

  35. 35
    wichitalineman on 21 Apr 2009 #

    At Trelleborg in Sweden, when the home side scores they play something that sounds like a 78 of Yes We Have No Bananas in Swedish, which gets yanked off (I’m convinced you can hear the needle being lifted) mid song.

    Jonny B, no! I’d also really miss Glad All Over (Crystal Palace), When The Red Red Robin Goes Bob Bob Bobbing Along (Charlton Athletic, Carshalton Athletic) and Tijuana Taxi (Leyton Orient).

    When Mike Walker had his short, unhappy reign at Everton he got them to ditch Z Cars in favour of (I think) Eye Of The Tiger. All part of the overly serious, flavourless Sky world of sport, enough to make you squeak “it’s only a game!”

    The Liquidator used to be played at West Brom AND Wolves didn’t it? Oh the irony when Wolves were on the brink of liquidation circa ’84.

  36. 36
    Steve Mannion on 21 Apr 2009 #

    add ‘Pigbag’ to the exceptions to JonnyB’s rule

  37. 37
    lex on 21 Apr 2009 #

    All football chants can die forever, but I was sort of shocked to discover the existence of the Jock Jams compilation series in the US, which seems to mostly consist of banging Eurotechno.

    I don’t recall any tennis player particularly repping for ‘Eye Of The Tiger’, except maybe (inevitably) for Lleyton Hewitt – the younger generation seem to prefer 50 Cent and the Black Eyed Peas. Progress! I also remember Jennifer Capriati requesting Outkast’s ‘Bombs Over Baghdad’ as her entrance music to the Miami stadium – which would be awesome, except it was at the height of the Iraq war, and came off as astonishingly tactless. In googling to confirm the details I’ve just found one commentator huffing that “Capriati’s unregenerate vulgarity is the sport’s worst kept secret”, haw.

  38. 38
    Erithian on 21 Apr 2009 #

    Since Wichita has mentioned Everton, I recall the time when Sylvester Stallone actually turned up at Goodison Park, in January 2007 for a 1-1 draw against Reading. He’s apparently a friend of an Everton shareholder and was in the UK to promote the not-at-all-unlikely “Rocky Balboa”. Cue a huge chant from the Goodison faithful of “ROCKY IS AN EV-ER-TON-I-AN!” Match of the Day 2 cameras got a great shot of him sipping a carton of tea then all but spitting it out as the taste hit him like a right hook.

    We had my little nephew round to stay at Christmas ’82, and I played him “Private Investigations” while narrating what I thought was going on in the imaginary movie to which the instrumental section would be the soundtrack. “The detective’s walking down the deserted streets … is that someone watching him or just a cat?… here comes the baddie, POW!” (as the power chord clangs in). He was mesmerised. I think it works!

  39. 39
    Steve Mannion on 21 Apr 2009 #

    my favourite entrance music moment ever is Nigel Benn using Goodmen’s ‘Give It Up’ prior to Eubank defeat.

  40. 40
    rosie on 21 Apr 2009 #

    The intro to EotT evokes Waterloo Sunset, does it not? Before it goes all in-yer-face macho on you I mean.

  41. 41
    Tim on 21 Apr 2009 #

    I lived in Leeds in the late 80s/early 90s. At that time Leeds United used to run out to a horrible thing which started with the opening keyboard line from “Fanfare For The Common Man”, then segued into the intro from “Eye of the Tiger” and followed that with a quick chorus of “Simply The Best”.

  42. 42
    Tom on 21 Apr 2009 #

    It’s “Waterloo Sunset”‘s lairy cousin maybe! It’s a shame the two intros are both far too famous to make a blind test practical.

  43. 43
    Tom on 21 Apr 2009 #

    #41 the birth of the mash-up!

  44. 44
    Tim on 21 Apr 2009 #

    Oh and Wichita (#35) – there’s a bit in “My Life As A Dog” in which a fellow obsessively plays his Swedish language 78 of “Yes We Have No Bananas”. His wife (eventually driven to distraction) smashes up the record. I wonder if the two are related in some way?

  45. 45

    shrewsbury town used to run out to biff bang pow!’s “there must be a better life”

  46. 46
    wichitalineman on 21 Apr 2009 #

    Re 44: Wasn’t that I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts? But it was definitely something just as daffy. Isn’t Sweden great?

    On the pop/sport interface: opening melody lines of themes from Black Beauty and World Of Sport are identical; Forget About You by the Motors is basically the Grandstand theme.

    It seems Gary Glitter has avoided the vanishing commissar treatment in the US where Rock’n’Roll Part 2 lives on. Hello Hello I’m Back Again was, of course, another terrace chant which has now been expunged.

    Re 41: Dirty, dirty Leeds. I’d expect no better.

    Re 45: I’d love to think that’s true…

  47. 47
    JonnyB on 21 Apr 2009 #

    I think Tim #41 sums it up…

    A distinction needs to be drawn on the stadium thing. Individual tracks, perhaps quirkily-chosen ones, or things that have a local, team or punning relevance are far more acceptable. Generic ‘triumphant moment, work up the crowd!’ songs cross the line. Personally I am happy to admit a fondness for ‘We are the Champions’ as a pop song, but I can’t separate it from sports stadium hell.

    I loved the Watford story. I might try to introduce the same sort of thing at bowls on Friday.

  48. 48
    Steve Mannion on 21 Apr 2009 #

    #43 surely it’s more of a medley! or megamix (still not entirely sure what distinguishes one from the other)

  49. 49
    LondonLee on 21 Apr 2009 #

    In the States they often play music while the game is going on which drives me up the fucking wall. And the NFL seem to have some corporate rule that every team has to play the same music so you get The Stones’ “Start Me Up” at every single kick off.

    The Boston Red Sox “theme tune” is Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” which I do admire as a choice for it’s eccentric thinking outside the usual sports box but it has ruined that song a little bit for me.

  50. 50
    Matthew H on 21 Apr 2009 #

    This song reminds me of my one single term at boarding school, which is mainly a bad thing. Then again, 27 years on, I’ve got a rose-tinted nostalgia for both. It makes this anthem sound melancholy.

    Oh, and ALSO I recorded the Top Of The Pops when this hit No.1 just before I went off to school – recorded on audio tape, of course; Ferric Oxide, possibly – and it has my mum drawing the curtains over the top of the intro, precisely in time. Recording telly on audio tape, eh? Them’s was the days.

  51. 51
    Billy Smart on 21 Apr 2009 #

    #35, as with Everton abandoning ‘Z Cars’ for ‘Eye of the Tiger’, in the late 1990s Charlton briefly replaced ‘The Red Red Robin’ with the stirring punk sounds of ‘Into The Valley’ by The Skids – to the derision of all.

  52. 52
    LondonLee on 21 Apr 2009 #

    What do they play at Charlton now? “Down Down” by Status Quo?

  53. 53
    wichitalineman on 21 Apr 2009 #

    Or “Death Valley” by Charles Blackwell. As long as Millwall don’t swap places it’s sort of bearable. Cue return of Curbs?

    Tom, I’m not sure if you noticed that Chipstead were relegated from the Isthmian League on Saturday. Yes, I’m afraid the Chips are down.

    The most unlikely sport/pop crossovers had to be the BBC themes of the 70s, some of which endure:

    Booker T & The MGs – Soul Limbo (cricket)
    Winifred Atwell – Black & White Rag (snooker)
    New Dance Orchestra – Pop Goes Bach (skiing)
    Brian Bennett – Holy Mackerel (rugby – frivolous Moog fest)
    Douglas Wood Group – Cranes (darts – weirdly tuneless piano groove with solitary extended Moog fart)

    Two Popular artistes in there!

  54. 54
    LondonLee on 21 Apr 2009 #

    Fleetwood Mac – The Chain (Formula One)

  55. 55
    wwolfe on 21 Apr 2009 #

    I haven’t commented in a long while because I’m not familiar with a lot of the #1 from the past few years. But I wanted to say how much I enjoyed the entire “Come On Eileen” entry, as well as the second and third paragraphs of this one. I’m about fifteen years older than you, but I’m happy and fortunate to say those paragraphs describe that time in my life perfectly.

  56. 56
    Erithian on 21 Apr 2009 #

    Adoption of songs by fans of certain teams has a great illogicality. You can see why Manchester City took to “Blue Moon”, but it’s less obvious why Stoke City adopted “Delilah”, and even less so why Bristol Rovers adopted Leadbelly’s “Goodnight Irene”, which they’ve sung since the 50s.

  57. 57
    ace inhibitor on 21 Apr 2009 #

    Two more Popular artistes in sporting contexts; did anyone else hear ‘Geno’ being played in Dublin when Ireland scored a try in the recent rugby internationals? And at Wolves, about 15 years ago (as a charlton away supporter, as it happens), they used to play ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’ before the game, only after the Hi Ho’ the tannoy would cut out so the crowd could bellow ‘Wolver’ampton’…

  58. 58
    ace inhibitor on 22 Apr 2009 #

    re 55, I also really enjoyed your description of your ‘normally happy’ childhood tom. I was, in the same period, a normally unhappy 17-18 year old, in a town where nothing ever happened, waiting for life to begin, and finding solace in an (official) listening diet of PiL/Robert Wyatt/Au Pairs etc (the only new pop I admitted to liking was the Associates, unless the Fire Engines count). Despite this I too feel a fondness for almost everything thats cropping up at the moment (even Eye of the Tiger, which admittedly I mainly enjoy crucifying on the playstation singstar 80s legends – its what passes for family entertainment in these parts). Its the familiarity of everything that resonates, & I think yr line about hating some music being one more thing to enjoy that sums it up; my relationship with music was so intense and opinionated at this time that I have a relationship with everything, which endures even when the opinions themselves have mellowed, or reversed

  59. 59
    pink champale on 22 Apr 2009 #

    i love ‘save a prayer’ too – there’s not much as gloriously absurd as ”and you wanted to dance so i asked you to dance / but fear is in my soul” in simon le bon’s podgy whine

  60. 60
    lonepilgrim on 22 Apr 2009 #

    I would never have admitted to liking this at the time but it now sounds almost bearable – particularly for those opening, jabbing chords. I became reconciled to the sounds of US rawk when I got the Dazed and Confused soundtrack – but EOTT is no match for Ted Nugent.

  61. 61
    peter goodlaws on 22 Apr 2009 #

    #56 – Perhaps the most puzzling of all is Coventry City singing the Eton Boat Song and nothing else. Was this just an illusion of grandeur from that bearded tosser, Hill? Down at Eastbourne Borough, we greet the side to the strains of “Sussex by the Sea” played by a brass band not out of place on a Peter Skellen record. When a home goal goes in, we have to suffer “Tom Hark”, which I loathe.

  62. 62
    intothefireuk on 23 Apr 2009 #

    Big intro followed by a big let down. Horrible.

  63. 63
    DV on 24 Apr 2009 #

    One thing I will always remember about the current Vicarage is how the downstairs neighbours took to playing ‘Eye of the Tiger’ at such volumes that we could hear its dulcet tones quite clearly. Once they were doing this and so we joined in with the chorus, screaming it out at the tops of our voices. The neighbours never played the song again.

    I love this song, people who hate it are enemies of music itself.

  64. 64
    Malice Cooper on 30 Apr 2009 #

    yuk !

    Hateful american rubbish

  65. 65
    burkesworks on 7 May 2009 #

    Peter @ 61; the reason why Cov sing the Eton Boating Song was entirely down to Jimmy Hill and his at-the-time revolutionary ideas of club “radio stations”, non-working electronic scoreboards, all-seater stadia, and decidedly iffy methods of taking set pieces, that he brought into Highfield Road in the late ’60s. Needless to say the record was renamed the “Sky Blue Song” and the chinny one made sure he picked up a writing credit.

  66. 66
    wichitalineman on 8 May 2009 #

    Do Cov still sing “proud posh or cobblers” or did they update it during their lengthy stay in the top division? I remember hearing Jimmy Hill sing this (in its entirety) on the BBC once in the nineties – it took me a while twig what the hell that line meant.

    Iffy set pieces like this? It was a big hit in our playground!


  67. 67
    Kat but logged out innit on 11 May 2009 #

    I can confirm that Eye Of The Tiger is far more enjoyable when played on Guitar Hero! Though my fingers are a bit sore now.

  68. 68
    Erithian on 17 Aug 2009 #

    Channel 4 Top 100 Watch: the 80th best-selling single in the first 50 years of the UK chart.

  69. 69
    thefatgit on 16 Oct 2009 #

    Re: 67
    When playing EOTT on Guitar Hero, do you staple black bin liners to your living room wall for the authentic Survivor video look?

  70. 70
    Erithian on 8 Nov 2011 #

    Since I mentioned him upthread, and it’s in keeping with the boxing theme, Joe Frazier RIP.

    Seems the one fight Ali couldn’t win was the fight to be forgiven by Joe once their boxing days were long over and Ali wanted to apologise for the extremely damaging things he said in the early 70s (calling Frazier an Uncle Tom with little thought for what his family would go through as a result). There was a very touching tribute on Radio 5 this morning from Joe Bugner, who had an epic fight with Frazier in July ’73 and who invited him down to Sydney for Bugner’s 60th birthday party last year. Many of us last saw Bugner on the archive TOTP from 1976 last week.

  71. 71
    hardtogethits on 9 Nov 2011 #

    #41. Those who are well-placed to remember do not recall any use of the song “The Best”.

  72. 72
    Jimmy the Swede on 9 Nov 2011 #

    I must join my buddy (and fellow sports enthusiast) Erithian in paying a loving tribute to Smokin’ Joe, who has passed away. One did not have to be a boxing fan to be caught up in the almost insane excitement engendered by those wonderful heavyweight battles of the 70s. They were true world events and I remember them all clearly – the anticipation on the Wednesday night on “Sportsnight (with Coleman)” as dear old Harry Carpenter set the scene and then watching the delayed telecast at the weekend. Fabulous. Frazier was dignity personified and won the inaugural match with Ali in 1971 by a country mile, decking The Greatest in the final round. Alas, two years later, in a result nobody saw coming, he was destroyed by George Foremen inside two rounds, being sent to the canvas six times (he had never been dropped in his career before). He then came to London and, as Erithian says, outpointed one Joe Bugner in what was beyond any doubt the best performance Bugner ever put up. A further two years on and we had “The Thriller in Manila”. Ali was champion again and he and Frazier punched each other to a standstill before Eddie Futch, Joe’s trainer, pulled him out with only one round left. Ali promptly collapsed in his corner. Neither were the same again. But make no mistake, Frazier was a remarkable champion, active in a golden age for the fight game. And let’s not forget his Olympic gold medal from Tokyo too. After all that, may he rest in peace indeed.

  73. 73
    DanH on 25 Jan 2013 #

    This came out a year after “Edge of Seventeen,” though the guitarist on “Seventeen” later admitted to nicking the guitar line from The Police’s “Bring On the Night,” much to Stevie Nicks’ dismay.

  74. 74
    Duro on 3 Sep 2014 #

    Delurking and making my Populist debut, and this was the logical place to start. I still find minor amusement in the fact that this soundtracked my arrival into the world (probably not in the most literal sense), and a quarter of a century later when hosting a 1982 party I was struck by how many foundation records were released in this particular year. While this is not exactly ‘The Message’, no song associated with Clubber Lang should ever be considered a bad thing.

  75. 75
    hectorthebat on 28 Oct 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010) 1002
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)
    Kerrang! (UK) – Singles of the Year 3
    Sounds (UK) – Singles of the Year 8

  76. 76
    benson_79 on 15 Aug 2020 #

    #57: before Hi Ho Silver Lining, the entrance song down the Molineux was The Liquidator; sadly because everybody used to sing “FUCK OFF WEST BROM… THE WOLVES!” at the main refrain, the club ended up banning it.

    I never thought of EOTT as all intro and nothing else, but maybe that’s because I’ve watched too much darts and (talking of entrance songs) forever associate it with the legend that is Raymond van Barneveld.

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