Dec 10


FT + Popular153 comments • 9,810 views

#646, 9th June 1990

“World In Motion” is the ultimate 1990 record, but oddly the specific World Cup it reminds me of is 2002: living in London, broadly optimistic about England’s prospects, watching football in the morning then going out in the afternoon sunshine and having a beer, maybe dancing later. That timelag made it a topsy-turvy experience, gave the sensation of the usual order of a World Cup summer being turned enjoyably upside down. The same kind of pleasant dislocation, in fact, that struck me when I heard, 12 years earlier, that New Order were going to make the England team record, and it was going to be called “E For England”.

Well, it wasn’t, but given the chain of marvelous unlikeliness this did set off – New Order doing a football song, New Order at number one, John Barnes rapping on a chart-topping hit – I can’t begrudge one missing bit of cheekiness. The mooted title also points at what makes the track work – this really, genuinely “ain’t a football song”, the sport takes its place in a more universal celebration of summer, freedom, optimism, and most of all dance music.

It’s a rightful place, too. I’d learned the fat kid’s defensive disdain for football, but even I’d become aware of a counter-melody to the constant establishment song of thuggery, tragedy and mistrust. The idea of E’d-up hooligans hugging on the terraces is one of the great fond legends of the late 80s, potent whatever its literal truth. But presenting football and dance music as incongruous, ironic partners obscured deeper connections. The lifestyle of the casual, grafting to get money for a European jaunt and returning with clothes and style ideas, has pretty obvious parallels with acid house culture in the UK (and involved lots of the same people). It’s not a huge jump from imported trainers to imported 12″s. Italy being a prime source of both, of course. So when the Italo house piano – a feature of almost every good #1 this year – drops in mid-song for the “We. Want. Goals.” sample – this record stops seeming unlikely and instead becomes something gloriously, inevitably, right.

After that pivot point you get the England half of the record. Before, you get a New Order single – and a very good one. Not perhaps their greatest – not “Bizarre Love Triangle” or “Regret” or “Run”. But their virtues – Barney’s unaffected earnestness, the efficient snap of the drum programming, and especially the beautiful overlapping runs of bass, guitar and keyboard – are all here. I sometimes get the feeling New Order fans – Americans in particular – see “World In Motion” as a novelty or an aberration, when really it’s a validation: this is a band at their peak, following their best album. They’ve gone through grim times, found a kind of salvation on the dancefloor and played their part in taking a whole culture with them. This single is as necessary to their wider story as “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. And to be honest I listen to it a great deal more often.

As for the football section – well, there are a lot of Englishmen who know few raps from memory but could recite John Barnes’ at a moment’s prompting. It has heart and gusto and – a genuine rarity this in a World Cup song – it actually talks tactics. And yes, you can’t have a football song without some degree of chanting, but “World In Motion” earns it – the “Arrivederci!” bit appears as a natural, joyful, end to the song instead of its main motive force.

In the end, though, a culture gets the football songs it deserves. And it’s easy to forget how good England sometimes felt in 1990. The optimism in “World In Motion”, the sense of possibility, was very real and hard to put into words now without sounding pie-eyed or rote – pop was revitalised, the world was changing, youth culture was transformed, Thatcher was weakening (and would finally fall that winter). Football had played a hidden role in setting up some of these cultural shifts and here it was, accepting its invitation to the party.

For Mexico 86 I’d hardly paid attention, for France 82 I’d only cared about the Panini stickers. Italia 90 was the first World Cup I followed: as it turned out I was hardly alone, and the tournament’s gone down as one beginning for the great gentrifying and commercialising changes in football in the 20 years since. At the time of “World In Motion” this future went mostly unpredicted – instead there was a Utopian streak in pop thought, a sense of the coming together of genres, classes, eras that this record with its mix of ’66 and ’88 caught exactly. Maybe it was just that I was 17. Looking back it seems a little more bittersweet, a high tide of confidence – the Utopia never arrived, and this is the last time we’ll meet 1966 on a hit record (football song or no) as an equal, not as a chastising ghost. But for now Summer is beginning, the team is ready, and the future is an open goal.



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  1. 1
    Tom on 29 Dec 2010 #

    Posting this today, it would be wrong of me not to mention that “Love Will Tear Us Apart” has become a more enduring fan song than this (though is it sung in football? I dunno).

  2. 2
    MichaelH on 29 Dec 2010 #

    There’s an argument to be made that Bobby Robson was responsible for Cool Britannia/Britpop, if we first accept that the 1990 World Cup was the crucial event in the rehabilitation of laddism: that to be working class, interested in casual clothes and football, was not necessarily to be a hoodied hoolie. Admittedly Madchester was going on concurrently, but with darker undercurrents than the 90s’ celebration of laddism every really offered nourishment to. England’s success at Italia 90, with its explicitly working class hero in Paul Gascoigne, spawned the respectablisation of football and fostered Loaded culture, both of which made the ground fertile for Britpop a few years later. And without Bobby Robson there would have been no tactical reshuffle to take England through to the second stage, there would likely have been no Gascoigne at the World Cup – plenty of England managers would not have given a chance to a wild kid who couldn’t do what his coaches wanted, and no moment of national catharsis after the semi.
    No Bobby R, no Noel G. Just saying.

  3. 3
    punctum on 29 Dec 2010 #

    In 1990, 1989 seemed to have occurred a million years ago. Whereas in 1989 we had Hillsborough, Jive Bunny and despair, now there was on offer the World Cup, rave culture and hope. It may be that the gradual embrace of football by the middle classes was welcomed with open arms as a systematic, more subtle raid on working class culture – try to get an average seat for a Chelsea home game today and you won’t get much change out of £60 – and its promise may have been as illusory as that of rave.

    In 1990, though, it felt right – and how right it was that, twenty years after “Back Home,” England’s World Cup song should be written and performed by the greatest of all pop groups; if we count Joy Division and New Order as one group (and if we’re going to count the Beatles of “Free As A Bird” as the Beatles then really we have to) then there has been none greater. The Beatles changed music twice, but JD/NO did it three times; and as the group who more than anyone else helped demolish the gates and build the bridge towards dance and rave culture, without whom the 1990 charts would not have been strengthened and coloured brightly by the Roses or the Mondays or Primal Scream or so many glorious and inglorious others – can we even imagine things like Candy Flip’s dazed take on “Strawberry Fields Forever” reaching the Top 100, let alone number three, without this precedent? – it was fitting that they should have been given the opportunity to use the football song to celebrate this new colour, this hopeful second summer of love, as well as to subvert it.

    Whereas 12 months previously there lay regret, hate, death and fans being treated like the inhabitants of a veal calf truck, now there was the option to stand up again, to make a new start. The England squad made it to the semi-finals with style and honour, did not disgrace themselves, and “World In Motion” reflects a confidence wise enough not to spill over into arrogance. Bernard Sumner, backed by the squad, sings “Love’s got the world in motion/And I can’t believe it’s true” with genuine wonder (the Wall down, Mandela free, Thatcher on the way out) and to hear Hook’s bass cascading like a nasturtium on a trampoline in this context is a joy.

    The House undertow is expertly handled, and the intentionally self-mocking rap, penned by Keith Allen and performed by a knowing John Barnes (the double entendre of “there’s only one way to beat them/Get round the back” – smuggling one’s stash of Ecstasy past the club bouncers? – and the glad but definite “We ain’t no hooligans/This ain’t a football song”), leads the way towards the record’s final subversion; are they really singing “E for England”? Probably not (it’s “we’re play-ING for England” but with the “ING” sung, or at least mixed, to sound like “E”), but its dissolving of boundaries, even for this Scotland/Italy supporter (well, Pavarotti’s 19-year-old recording of “Nessun Dorma,” used as the BBC’s theme tune to the World Cup campaign, shot to number two not long afterwards), still causes me to blink with unrestrained glee.

    I think: if only Ian Curtis had conquered himself and lived to write and appear on “World In Motion,” and if only we had had the courage to take on this modest proposal and do something with it (let alone run with it)…New Order’s only direct appearance in Popular was the climax of the finest unbroken run of number one singles since 1979, and as with all peaks, the only way to go was down (as we shall shortly see). But if “Killer” was a timely warning about the downside of this change in culture, then “World In Motion” presents its manifesto – this is how it could be, if only we wanted it. And its key line of “When something’s good, it’s never gone” is intensely moving in a New Order sense – if “Everything’s Gone Green” is the best single ever made, because it’s about people struggling to find their way back into the world after an incalculable and near unbearable loss, and then they accidentally invent something new and are therefore enabled to live again, then “World In Motion” has the fortitude and patience to leave the chill of “Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey” death behind and make everything, not just football, live again. They think it’s all over? It never is.

  4. 4
    Simon on 29 Dec 2010 #

    World In Motion never became a “terrace chant”, if that’s what you mean. What it has done is recommodified Barnes in the way Bobby Charlton was once (as in the fanzine boom of the late 80s-early 90s) primarily remarked upon for his combover before his skills; mention him to your average online ironic football fan and they’ll doubtless go on about his rapping before his golden age at Liverpool, his breaking barriers at Watford (there’s a clip on YouTube somewhere of Michael Barrymore lightly blacked up pretending to be Barnes from the BBC coverage of the 1984 Cup final), his celebrated goal in the Maracana, whatever. Apparently only five players turned up to recording, thinking it’d be another cliched squad bellowing effort, and all of them got a go at the rap, including Gazza and the not all that coherent to begin with Peter Beardsley.

    Fairly interesting sidenote about this is Kenneth Wolstenholme’s commentary right at the start, although never officially noted as such, has been re-recorded, and you can tell because he gets it wrong (starts “well…”, then different intonations)

  5. 5
    Matthew H on 29 Dec 2010 #

    Nice to hear from a man who loves ‘World In Motion’ even more than I do. A friend bought it for me for my 18th birthday at the end of that May, and it chimed wonderfully with my excitement at that landmark, school’s final finish, the upcoming tournament where – yes – anything seemed possible, etc. Anything seemed possible everywhere.

    Couple of things:

    #3 I think they say ‘E for England’ at the very start of the chant before it moves to ‘playing for England’. Could be wrong; could easily relisten, of course.

    #1 United fans, BLESS them, have always sung “Giggs will tear you apart again” and I don’t think they were the first. Who did Wagner Love play for?

  6. 6
    Billy Smart on 29 Dec 2010 #

    “The 1990 World Cup was a crucial event in the rehabilitation of laddism” – Well, thanks for that.

    I did really want to like it, my favourite group recording an England football song. Technique had meant everything to me at 16 and 17, the poetry of disco existentialism, the pinning down of intangible found moments and feelings of bliss and loss… The residual moments of NO epiphany can be found in the record, as identified by Tom and other popular correspondents. But any record that has a lot of lehry blokes chanting about “Eng-er-land” is always going to run against a brick wall of Billy distaste in the end. I’m entirely English, but I always feel more likely to get beaten up during a World Cup, you see. “Oi! Mate! Eng-er-land! Eng-er-land! Freak!” The combination of drink, shouting and empty-headed nationalism is wholly repellent to me.

    For a record that carries such a historical reputation, I have to report that the Eltham sixth form reception was one of blanket indifference – It was agreed to be better than other football records, but nobody other than me seemed to have had much time for New Order in the first place – They were insufficiently rocking for snakebite indie types, and not seen as offering proper dance or pop music by the majority.

    The John Barnes rap was heard with derision by everyone, though, I recollect. As with ‘Vogue’ its by far and away the bit that I like the best now.

  7. 7
    Billy Smart on 29 Dec 2010 #

    #2 Watch: A week of New Kids On The Block’s ‘Step By Step’. Less well remembered than ‘World In Motion’, and rightly so.

  8. 8
    Billy Smart on 29 Dec 2010 #

    MMWatch: David Stubbs, May 26 1990;

    “I can’t quite reconcile myself to this latterday trend in which they attempt to make football songs quite *good*. Getting New Order in to do the England song seems to me a completely uncalled for attempt to attain credibility for the genre. It never works. ‘World In Motion’ is a perfectly acceptable piece of New Order’s digital existentialism, Bernard Albrecht’s frail musings taut over scurrying synthesiser rhythms. But he’s singing about football for f***’s sake. About lost moments, remote possibilities, blue eyes and grey eyes, yes. About man-to-man marking, no. It’s not a proper subject for New Order or any such band. It’s like singing about a nice pie, or a pint of lager, or a joke. I like all those things, but not in pop. The pleasures are mutually incompatible, like salt and sugar.

    Mercifully, the self-consciously boorish vocals of the “footballers” get a low profile on ‘World In Motion’, though John Barnes’ rather swaggering rap about how he’s going to get behind the defence should mean he’ll have to indulge in a spot of hat-eating on the early flight home.”

    Stubbs awarded single of the week to Front Line Assembly’s challenging ‘Mental Distortion’. Also reviewed that week;

    Northside – Shall We Take A Trip?
    Pop Will Eat Itself – Touched By The Hand Of Cicciolina
    The Scottish World Cup Squad – Say It With Pride
    Deborah Harry – Maybe For Sure
    Frazier Chorus – Cloud 8
    St Etienne – Only Love Can Break Your Heart

  9. 9
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 29 Dec 2010 #

    “The pleasures are mutually incompatible, like salt and sugar”: the nonsensical declaration of a man who doesn’t cook…

  10. 10
    punctum on 29 Dec 2010 #

    Ah, Front Line Assembly. When are we going to get Eighties Canadian Industrial Hardcore Week on the X-Factor, eh, Simon (“It’s only Skinny Puppy!”)?

  11. 11
    Billy Smart on 29 Dec 2010 #

    Barnes himself had a disappointing Italia 90, of course, although if his goal against Belgium had been allowed things might be remembered differently.

    At the same time as ‘World In Motion’ he could be seen on TV advertising Lucosade in a dressing room “After ninety minutes of sheer hell, you need refreshment!” (Rob Newman’s post-World Cup Barnes impersonation “After sixteen minutes of sheer hell, I get substituted”)

    The main TV memory of Italia 1990 is the Peter Purves standing in Wembley Stadium advertisment for the Electricity Board “Allow me to ENLIGHTEN you!”

    And I remind everybody that the reason why Paul Gasgoine wept in the semi final was not because England sadly lost, but because he’d just received a yellow card and would miss any subsequent final – i.e. for reasons of self-pity, not patriotic team spirit, as many people seem to misremember.

  12. 12
    punctum on 29 Dec 2010 #

    That’s a bit cruel; admittedly he shouldn’t have been a doofus and got a second yellow in the first place but were all these tears and Robson’s consolations really completely self-centred? Surely there must have been a great deal of patriotism-related sorrow within him?

  13. 13
    Billy Smart on 29 Dec 2010 #

    I suppose that’s true – Self-destructive confusion was a part of what made Gasgoine such a compelling footballer to watch, like a soccer Hurricane Higgins. The structured world of the football pitch was the one place where he could escape from the dismal pressures of being much-loved daft-as-a-brush “Gazza”/ the wifebeating obsessive compulsive voices in his own head, but even there the madness would take over – see also the other Gazza moment that everyone remembers from the time, in managing to break his leg in the act of kicking Gary Charles’ sternum in his insane foul in the 1991 Cup final.

  14. 14
    23 Daves on 29 Dec 2010 #

    #11 That Barnes advert is possibly a rare example of advertising which did subliminally burrow into my brain and cause me to buy Lucozade Sport more often than I might. He’s so downright furious in the advert as well, a close runner to Jimmy Saville’s seatbelt campaign in the forceful scowling stakes. Very unsettling. I swear he made me feel I had to buy it.

    As for “World in Motion”, I remember New Order being interviewed on Radio One and announcing they were “working on” the England football song, and it being treated as a joke at the nation’s expense. They had to repeat themselves a couple of times before the DJ in question would accept they were being serious. It’s not particularly difficult to understand why, but the end result to me is still a pretty good New Order single. I suppose a small part of me does find it frustrating that this went to number one and “True Faith”, “Fine Time”, “Bizarre Love Triangle” and “Blue Monday” (even “Blue Monday” for Christ’s sake, which I think overall sold a lot more than “World In Motion”!) didn’t. For all that, it’s not a shameful piece of work, no fanbase led fluke or over-compromised piece of fluff, and whilst all New Order singles from this period sum up the late eighties and early nineties extraordinarily well for me, this certainly is the boldest, most direct declaration of the lot. I won’t say too much about “Three Lions” yet, but “World in Motion” hasn’t a hint of bitterness or victimhood about it, it’s just alive with the possibility of success. I’m not saying that it necessarily caused me to watch the World Cup for the first time that year, but I’m sure it helped nudge me in that direction. It made it sound vibrant and alive, something very few football songs actually manage to do.

  15. 15
    DietMondrian on 29 Dec 2010 #

    The 1990 World Cup is remembered more fondly than it deserves to be – the England v Ireland group game was abysmal, England scraped through the group, scraped past Belgium in a game that was goalless for 119 minutes, scraped past the much more entertaining Cameroon…the final was appalling too, and I think the goals-per-game ratio for the tournament was the lowest ever (I haven’t checked this). Cameroon beating holders Argentina in the opener and Maradona blubbing after the final were among the very few high spots.

    Nine out of 10 for New Order, though.

  16. 16
    anto on 29 Dec 2010 #

    Brrrrillliant review. The record is an intriuging patchwork perhaps all the better for being made by a band who were mildly interested in rather than crazy about football (just imagine an Oasis World Cup song -on second thoughts don’t). Not all of it works, the EN-GER-LAND chant is obnoxious and my allegiance at Italia 90 – the first World Cup I watched was with the boys in green , but yes mostly it’s ok and Barneseys rap provided one of the best moments of Gavin & Stacey.

  17. 17
    George on 29 Dec 2010 #

    High point of Italia 90: Maradona mouthing obscenities at the Italians booing the Argentine national anthem before the final against West Germany.

  18. 18
    wichita lineman on 29 Dec 2010 #

    Like DietM, I’d have to disagree with Punctum’s suggestion that “the England squad made it to the semi-finals with style and honour” (Italy did, though). The Cameroon game was embarrassing, and we scraped past an ok Belgium. The Germany game was exceptional, which everyone remembers. I went to my Grandad’s funeral the next day. Quite an emotional summer.

    As for hooligans hugging on the terraces, I was moving in similar circles to the Boys Own boys in 1990 and whenever the subject of football came up they’d talk about crews, or Chelsea in the 80s, and seemed to find it hard to understand that though I was into football I really fucking hated the hooligan aspect. They were the people who had ruined it for me, my dad, and several friends who still wouldn’t return to the fold for a few more years. The Boys Own lot were retired hooligans btw after finding an alternative way of getting that stuff out of their system.

  19. 19
    Mark M on 30 Dec 2010 #

    Tom, you were clearly paying so little attention in 1982 you didn’t notice that the World Cup was in Spain, not France…

    Re 15: Yes, there was a lot that was grim about the 1990 World Cup, but then 1966 doesn’t have a great rep in other countries, either.

  20. 20
    thefatgit on 30 Dec 2010 #

    WIM evokes mixed memories for me. In fact, Italia 90 evokes mixed memories, and the both of them cross-pollenate images, experiences and reminiscences across the whole of that summer.

    Still smarting from a personally catastrophic spring, the summer brought warmth and hope. I had settled into an odd existence in London, moving into a squat near Elephant & Castle tube. Making do with never having much money, but always seemed to scrape together enough for “substances”.
    I mixed with some dodgy types back then, and did some things I now very much regret. None of that seemed to matter. Living in London was an exciting and dangerous adventure one minute, and as close to hell on earth the next. On the hottest day, we danced in the fountains in Trafalgar Square. We’d do silly stuff like dishing out Love Heart sweets to the punters in the Heaven queue underneath Charing Cross Station. Ecstacy broke down barriers and prejudice. I saw a skinhead hug a black rent-boy in Leicester Square. The World Cup almost intruded into the summer vibe. England would be lucky to get out of the group, let alone make it to the knock-out stage, was the general consensus at the start. Much of the football from my perspective was lost in a druggy fug, but the Germany game stays long in the memory.

    I watched that semi-final in the strangest place I ever saw a televised game. Few people can say they saw that match in The Crypt at St Martin-in-the-Fields church, which back then was a soup kitchen for the homeless. There were about 70 of us crammed into there watching on a small, but adequate TV mounted on the wall. It was an emotional rollercoaster. The first half was a cagey affair, with both teams lacking clear-cut chances. In the second half, Brehme’s free kick was deflected into Shilton’s goal by Paul Parker. Lineker levelled with 10 minutes of normal time left. Cue wild abandon, screaming, cheering and hugging amongst some of the lowliest individuals you’d ever meet.
    Extra time came and the biting of dirty fingernails began. The Gazza yellow card was met with howls of disapproval. We all knew what it meant, no Gazza in the final. The tears in his eyes were significant. A watershed moment, we were to discover much later just exactly how significant. Gascoigne pleading with the Brazilian ref, Lineker in the background motioning to the bench, mouthing “watch him”. It was the most significant moment in English football history since ’66 and all that. The New Football baptised in Gazza’s tears. The rest? Dreams shattering in slow motion; Platt’s goal disallowed for offside, the penalty shoot out with big red x’s against Pearce and Waddle’s names, the inquest and the cruel full-stop of Pavarotti serenading us up the steps and into the night.

    WIM was and still is my favourite footy song, even if it wasn’t really a footy song. It reminds me of when my life was at it’s most desperate and uncertain and all those crazy memories from that summer when we came 4th in a football tournament watched by 26 billion people, including 70 lowlifes in a crypt.

    “You’ve got to hold and give, but do it at the right time”. Too true, Barnesy, too true.

  21. 21
    swanstep on 30 Dec 2010 #

    I appreciate the enthusiasm of this essay, but I can’t say the song does much for me. Billy Smart has expressed pretty much exactly my take on the record, and Dietmondrian has expressed pretty much exactly my thoughts about Italia ’90 (utterly dreadful, negative, goal-parched tournament). That said, like ‘Do they know it’s xmas?’ WiM does kind of ‘get there in the end’, so in fact it always slightly surprises me when I hear it out somewhere (say every 4 years). WiM is always just a little more pleasant and a little less unctuous than I remember it I find…. Anyhow, I’d give it a 5 or a 6.

    Unrelatedly, the Bowie review blog ‘Pushing ahead of the dame’ to which freakytrigger links is up to the song ‘Station to Station’, and it has really excelled itself. Highly recommended.

  22. 22
    thefatgit on 30 Dec 2010 #

    Note that 26 billion was the recorded TV audience for the whole of the World Cup. That statement might have scanned wrong!

  23. 23
    vinylscot on 30 Dec 2010 #

    Definitely the best of the England world cup songs, but still not a patch on Scotland’s 1982 “We Have A Dream” epic (John Gordon Sinclair) and the Republic’s 1990 “Put ‘Em Under Pressure” (Maire Brennan and Horslips!).

    ..and I always felt a little sorry for David Platt, who had emerged the previous season as a world-class player, almost single-handedly driving Aston Villa to second place in the league, and who was probably England’s best, and most important player at the finals. He never really got the recognition I felt he deserved, being rather overshadowed by Gazzamania, and Lineker’s four goals (Platt scored three).

  24. 24
    the pinefox on 30 Dec 2010 #

    The comparison with ‘do they know it’s xmas?’ is somehow a good and convincing one!

    I think a fact that Ewing probably underestimates is how separate football and pop were at this time, compared to now. I think Ewing slightly (implicitly?) conveys a sense that ‘world in motion’ was omnipresent and football fans were all singing it and it appeared at the start of every England game on TV, etc.

    But in fact, for instance, I don’t remember ever hearing it on a football programme on TV during the World Cup – because pop music wasn’t part of TV football in those days. It is now (it is NOW!) – in a way that I (and surely others) find bland and uninspiring: teams walk out at Wembley to Arcade Fire, Lily Allen is in the background on Football Focus, etc. That crossover has happened. But I don’t think it had happened in 1990, so I don’t think that football culture (including media coverage of football) had much to say about this song. Maybe pop culture, DJs et al had more to say about it? Ewing points out to me that he really associates this track with 2002, and I think this helps to confirm my point, as the pop-footy crossover was very well established by 2002.

    I thought today how Ewing doesn’t mention the one area of footy – pop culture crossover that I would have been aware of at the time, namely the fanzine culture. The primary musical correlates of this would have been Billy Bragg or (a band I don’t know very well) Half Man Half Biscuit. I don’t think this culture had much to do with dance music, but maybe its being an ‘indie’ culture helped lay the ground for New Order to make this record (though I’m not sure what ‘helped lay the ground’ could really mean in that proposition, as I don’t think the FA were reading fanzines).

  25. 25
    Cumbrian on 30 Dec 2010 #

    Seconding (thirding?) the call on England’s performance in the 1990 WC – they weren’t very good but came up against a set of teams that also weren’t that good or lacked the killer instinct to put them away (the Ireland game, perhaps apocryphally – I’d need to check, inspired the Italian newspaper headline “No Football Please, We’re British”, the Dutch had failed to hang onto the heights of Euro 88, then a scrape past Belgium, needing two penalties – one of which was massively dodgy – to get past Cameroon). Indeed, in common with most of England’s footballing ventures since 1990, the minute England played a decent side, they got beaten.

    On the song, it’s pretty good. John Barnes even manages to raise his game from his previous rap on Liverpool’s awful “Anfield Rap” – perhaps the most awful football song of all time (though I am sure there are plenty of contenders). I still don’t think it’s a top tier New Order song, as I prefer the taut-likes of Blue Monday, True Faith, Bizarre Love Triangle, etc, to the more open euphoria of WIM. A second tier New Order song is still pretty damn good though.

  26. 26
    the pinefox on 30 Dec 2010 #

    I always thought England 1990 WC were alternately good and bad:

    bad vs Ireland
    good vs Holland
    bad vs Egpyt
    good vs Belgium
    bad vs Cameroon
    good vs Germany
    possibly bad vs Italy

  27. 27
    the pinefox on 30 Dec 2010 #

    btw one small way of testing my sense that ‘world in motion’ was not especially a big part of soccer consciousness at the time would be to go back to Pete Davies’ All Played Out and see if he mentions it. I suppose he probably does. But then he probably wasn’t an average fan anyway. So my test is flawed.

  28. 28
    23 Daves on 30 Dec 2010 #

    #24 I’m not the world’s best authority on football, so I could well be utterly wrong here – but I’m sure that New Order had been used in the background of the football coverage on television before “World in Motion” was issued. I remember this as being a time when the association between indie (and specifically “Madchester”) and football was just starting to kick in, and I’m sure New Order had actually written a few soundtrack doodles for various football programmes in the run-up to its release as well.

    Beyond my vague assertions, however, I can’t provide any evidence. Perhaps someone else knows more?

  29. 29
    the pinefox on 30 Dec 2010 #

    >>> The backing track for the chorus of “World in Motion” bore some striking (and controversial) similarities to the instrumental theme tune for the DEF II current-affairs show, Reportage.[3] This had been written for the show by Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert, also of New Order (and who would later be known as The Other Two).

    shows that they were making theme music, though not footy. Most funny thing about this entry, though, is:

    >>> The single’s B-side, in reality an early version of the A-side, was titled “The B-Side”, extending the football theme of the release, and was produced by former Swans member Roli Mosimann.

    I don’t think ‘the B-side’ extends a football theme. ‘Second half’ or ‘extra time’ might do.

  30. 30
    Rory on 30 Dec 2010 #

    I heard this playing last week over the speakers of the skating rink in Princes Street Gardens here in Edinburgh. Even given our city’s reputation as the least Scottish city in Scotland, it felt a bit odd.

    Naturally enough “World in Motion” didn’t top the Australian charts, managing only a peak of 21 (versus 4 for “Blue Monday”), and I didn’t encounter it until a few years later, after my infatuation with Republic prompted me to pick up their greatest hits CD. This was clearly a superior track, and the unpleasant undertones of the “Eng-er-lund” chant didn’t mean as much to me back then, so I rated it highly at the time. Nowadays, even though I’m well aware of the chant’s connotations, I still rate it, because the juxtaposition of hooliganism and New Order is so unlikely – a tension that makes the song more interesting and successful rather than less, to my ears. I’d agree with an 8.

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