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. 61
    will on 31 Dec 2010 #

    As both a New Order and Watford fan – Barnes and Luther Blissett were my childhood heroes – how can this brilliant record be anything other than a 10?

    I can’t be the only one though who mourns the fact that this the last England record on which the players themselves sing. I personally think the FA should corral the lot of ’em into a recording studio every time we reach a major finals.

  2. 62
    enitharmon on 31 Dec 2010 #

    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.

    You is ‘avin a larf, n’est ce pas? The loud-mouthed, bone-headed boorishness exemplified by Gascoigne (and all too prevalent twenty years on) has nothing to do with explicit working classness – certainly not a working-classness my crane-driver granddad would have recognised. Perhaps it’s a public-school-and-oxford view of the working class, I don’t know.

    Here, too, is the sound of thirty years of new feminism starting to go down the pan. It gets a lot worse in the next few years and I’m not going to enjoy watching it one little bit.

  3. 63
    Izzy on 31 Dec 2010 #

    #60 – from that description I’d say it sounds like Alan Ball

    Lovely review Tom. I regret enormously that, at just shy of fourteen, I was a little too young to appreciate the synthesis of pop cultures that Italia 90 brought us. I was massively hyped up for, and then massively let down by, the football itself*, but most of the wider impact passed me by – the only upside to that is that now the semi-final gets that bit more epic every time I see it, because it doesn’t quite have that peak to live up to.

    Anyway, great to listen to this again, it now feels to me like both the encapsulation of and elegy for an era.

    * though see this On Second Thoughts piece for a timely reappraisal

  4. 64
    Alex on 31 Dec 2010 #

    The last World Cup with more than one ideology participating. Also, the piano break always reminds me of “Vogue” and vice versa.

  5. 65
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 31 Dec 2010 #

    There’s a case — not sure I would like to argue it properly on the fly like this — for gazza as a descendent of the character played by richard harris in “this sporting life”; very gifted, inarticulate, brutalised, ambitious, being used more than he’s using? I too would contest that “explicitly”: would prefer something more like “totemistically”; but I don’t entirely agree with enitharmon that loaded/lad’s culture was a top-down imposition; the guy who first pitched the idea of loaded is a lot closer to look back in anger’s jimmy porter character than public school/oxbridge — he came from the last wave, or spurt, of 60s/70s “self-made” (and more or less self-educated) working class kids making good in media-land, as it was becoming less of an access point and more of a middle-class preserve (= ppl like me!)

    not that he’d thank me for the comparison…

    i was too embrangled in the wire to have much of a bead on where lad culture went next — britpop is a bafflement to me

  6. 66
    MikeMCSG on 31 Dec 2010 #

    # 60/63 Yes it definitely was Alan Ball. You can see him on the footage wildly gesticulating for a pass, no pitchside mikes to pick up the “You greedy bastard ! ” exclamation unfortunately !

    # 65 What you’re picking up on at the end of your first paragraph is of course the direct legacy of Crosland and Williams.

  7. 67
    enitharmon on 31 Dec 2010 #


    Not sure which way to read that comment about Crosland & Williams. Mark’s last wave of working-class kids making good in media is something I recognise. It could have been me making that break, despite being bog-standard comp and redbrick, although for reasons I don’t fully understand in retrospect it was an opportunity I failed to seize. (It may have had to do with the pressure of a working-class family to take on a ‘proper’, ‘respectable’ job). Even if I flunked the opportunity, I’m grateful to Crosland, Williams, and those that fought before them for allowing me an opportunity denied both to my older sister and, sadly, my daughter (bog-standard comp and Durham).

    But perhaps you are vilifying Crosland and Williams, as many do, for ‘betraying’ a system that hand-picked a few suitable show candidates to be groomed with the right accent and social attitudes for admission to the elite, while letting the rest of the unwashed rabble go to hell in a handcart (unless of course they had big boobs or could kick a football).

  8. 68
    MikeMCSG on 31 Dec 2010 #

    Well it depends which way you look at it. Wasn’t it better to have a few bright wc kids breaking through than none at all ? The “unwashed rabble” are no better off now than they were then; it just cut off an escape route and put more kids in bad schools. As ex-SDP I would never vilify Shirley but she got that one wrong.

  9. 69
    Erithian on 1 Jan 2011 #

    Time for the traditional end-of-year look at how far we’ve come since September 2003 when Tom began his magnum opus. Here’s where we’ve been at the end of each calendar year:

    2003 Great Balls Of Fire (#66, Jan 58 – 5 years 2 months, 66 entries in the year)
    2004 A World Without Love (#167, Apr 64 – 6 years 3 months, 101)
    2005 Eleanor Rigby/Yellow Submarine (#222, Aug 66 – 2 years 4 months, 55)
    2006 Get It On (#302, Jul 71 – 4 years 11 months, 80)
    2007 Lonely This Christmas (#362, Dec 74 – 3 years 5 months, 60)
    2008 This Ole House (#477, Mar 81 – 6 years 3 months, 115 (plus the Pistols!))
    2009 I Want To Wake Up With You (#575, Aug 86 – 5 years 5 months, 98)
    2010 World In Motion (#646, Jun 90 – 3 years 10 months, 71)

    So a somewhat slower year, understandably with the various things going on in real life Tom (and the month’s hiatus waiting for “Vogue”!), but an essential read as always. More power to your elbow and a happy New Year to everyone taking part.

  10. 70
    LondonLee on 1 Jan 2011 #

    @62 “loud-mouthed, bone-headed boorishness exemplified by Gascoigne”

    Who also happened to be a sublime artist with a football. And what does “explicit working classness” mean when it’s at home? How many boxes do you have to tick to become explicitly working class? Council flat? Single-parent family? Dropped ‘aitches? Wearing a flat cap?

    I have wonderful memories of the summer 1990, it was baking hot in London during the WC, I was living in a flat right in front of Stamford Bridge with a rooftop view of the pitch (moved out after 6 months, I couldn’t afford it in the end) and I had just met the girl I would go out with for the next three years. All that and England getting to the semis too.

    I never rated this much as a “proper” New Order single though which I guess is besides the point, I bought the 12″ anyway.

  11. 71
    enitharmon on 1 Jan 2011 #

    LondonLee @ 70

    Gascoigne was and is a serial abuser of women. That alone makes whatever he did with a football irrelevant to me; he’s a scumbag of the highest order and there’s no possible excusing him. The “Loaded” culture which some Popular pundits seem to think so much of was largely concerned with contempt for women, and that as I’ve hinted upthread would influence popular culture of the coming decade and beyond, to the despair of those of us who fought battles to break away from such attitudes.

    Working class I suppose means being like me; knowing that however bright and articulate you are the doors won’t open, that your face will never fit. It’s about mummy and daddy not being able to buy you influence through the right school and the right Oxbridge college regardless of intellectual merit. It’s about being permitted to do science or engineering if your bright, but heaven forbid you should want to go into the law (if I had my school time over again, knowing what I know know, I’d badger and cajole my way into following that path, I’d have been a good barrister I think but it was never presented as an option). Working class is standing together with your neighbours against those who would bleed you dry. Working class is being force-fed a diet of trash culture so that you won’t become self-aware and start challenging the system that keeps you in your place.

    Working class communities have little time for wasters who don’t pull their weight.

  12. 72
    Jimmy the Swede on 1 Jan 2011 #

    Izzy @ 63 and MikeMCSG @ 66

    I see I’m going to have to improve on my attempts at irony in the future!

  13. 73
    El boludo on 1 Jan 2011 #

    @enitharmon, I completely agree with your 1st paragraph and I’ll have something to say about the depressing Loaded culture later on as it begins to completely dominate the times in which I’m growing up :-(

    I’m a bit confused at your last sentence though, who is it even aimed at? (and as a council estate kid, I don’t remember electing a spokesperson for all working class people!)

    Anyway, this song. Amazingly, I’d never heard this before today – I quite like it! I was expecting some horrible combination of pallid indie-dance and bullying “anthemic” singalong, but it’s actually a pretty decent tune, probably helped by having fuck-all to do w/football. John Barnes’s rap is not at all what I had been led to expect, it’s really hard to dislike (I don’t know how much of this is to do with the video where Barnes is clearly like “WTF am I doing here?”)

    I could do without “Eng-er-land” tho. Seven, I think. Tom, sorry for being thick but I thought you were quite down on the house piano in your “Killer” review? I love it, personally. Ooh, I need to go back and comment on that one.

  14. 74
    Izzy on 1 Jan 2011 #

    #72: oops! Still, hadn’t heard that before – it’s always lovely to hear about a famous moment punctured by something so mundane.

  15. 75
    Billy Smart on 1 Jan 2011 #

    Re #75 – “The ‘Loaded’ culture which some Popular pundits seem to think so much of” – Who are you thinking of, Rosie? You’ll have to name names! I’ve been contributing to Popular for four years and I really can’t think of anyone here who answers to this description. Writing erudide/ arcane/ impassioned pop commentary isn’t really lad behaviour…

  16. 76
    LondonLee on 1 Jan 2011 #

    No one is excusing Gascgoine’s appalling off-field behaviour. Does this mean I can never enjoy his goal against Scotland?

    If we’re going to be waving around our class credentials I grew up on a council estate in a one-parent family which is why I don’t have the illusions about the ‘noble’ working classes you do. You sound like someone who’s just heard their first Jam single.

    Plenty of doors opened for me but I guess you think art school doesn’t count. Christ, my old man used to be a cab driver and ended up a stage manager at the National Theatre working with Larry Olivier and Peter Hall.

  17. 77
    LondonLee on 1 Jan 2011 #

    Looking through earlier comments I don’t think I saw any mention of “Nessun Dorma” – surely that’s the song most people think of when they remember Italia 90. I was in tears myself when the Beeb played it after the Germany game.

  18. 78
    Billy Smart on 2 Jan 2011 #

    #77 I think that’s because Nessun Dorma was #2 during the month that the next Popular entry spent at the top. It’s not been sacrificed.

  19. 79
    enitharmon on 2 Jan 2011 #

    LondonLee – what the fuck has the Jam got go do with anything? Paul Weller was from Woking, for fuck’s sake. And what was the bollocks about hearing the Jam for the first time anyway? They were nothing special, they did nothing original. You know full well I’d already lived through the best years of pop – which a good few of those pampered souls who pontificate here didn’t though they presume to know more about it than I do. But hey, what do I know. I’m so uncool I think making the effort to be able so sing properly and learning to play an instrument is of more value than shrieking atonally and making bizarre random noises with an acoustic generator. But that, to the pampered public school elite of this forum (note that I never get invited to present Populist nights by the way, presumably I’m much too vulgar, and female to boot) is the True Authentic Existential Wail of the Downtrodden. (To return to the case in point, much has been written in this thread of the sad absence from the record of Ian Curtis, that tormented soul from the mean streets of the Cheshire Stockbroker Belt with his sink education in the impoverished surroundings of The King’s School, Macclesfield, where he couldn’t even muster an O-level.)

    I’ll say this – any one of you smug pampered Oxbridge types hanging out here, I’ll take any one of you on and match my intellect head to head with yours, and I will win. But I’m not going to put up with the kind of boorish, know-it-all, testosterone-fuelled bulling I seem to be coming in for here. Tom, I look to you to impose some discipline.

  20. 80
    Tom on 2 Jan 2011 #

    I admit I haven’t been following this thread as closely as I ought, because I’ve been busy totting up the poll results (still one day to get those ballots in!)

    So trying to unpick this:

    – Michael H uses the phrase “explicitly working class hero” to describe Gazza, in the context of the path from Italia 90 to “lad culture”. In other words he’s *not* talking about the question of whether or not Gazza was typical or representative of the working classes, but about how there was no attempt to smooth over his working class-ness. Because there were so few working class figures presented as heroic at the time, of course Gazza was taken to be somehow typical too.

    – Rosie at #62 argues that Gazza wasn’t typical of working-class people. Which is surely true! But I don’t think Michael was arguing he was – more that he was typical of a particular type which became a lot more celebrated (and imitated) following Italia 90. The kind of “boorishness” which was – at first ironically, then less so – gentrified as “lad culture”. Boorishness isn’t a solely working class trait, obviously. But, for instance, I can say “Well, the Bullingdon Club isn’t representative of Oxbridge” until I’m blue in the face, I’d still have to admit it’s become a symbol of a particular kind of poshness.

    Am I on the right track so far? It seems to have got pretty heated after that and I’m in no mood to start adjudicating people’s life experiences. I agree with Billy though – I don’t think many of the people on this forum carry a particular torch for mid-90s lad culture, which seemed very much a retreat and backlash in the face of more positive early 90s stuff. (In my experience though, as the proportion of women topping the chart increases through the 90s and 00s, the proportion of people bemoaning the death of the good old days and complaining about manufactured pap, noise, etc. also rises.)

    One thing I feel I should say – nobody has EVER been “invited” to DJ at Club Popular, they’ve all asked. Should we ever do another one and you’re in town you’d be a guest of honour, Rosie!

  21. 81
    LondonLee on 2 Jan 2011 #

    The Jam reference was just my little joke, Weller often went in for simplistic lyrical sloganeering about the working class. For someone who doesn’t like punk you seen awfully obsessed with your class street cred, Rosie.

    Anyway, sorry if I’ve been rude but a lot of working class people I’ve known have been boorish louts, and racists to boot (a lot of them have been lovely people too, like my family) so I get my back up when people start making speeches about their so-called “real” attributes.

    I never went to Oxbridge either, I couldn’t even get into St. Martin’s.

  22. 82
    LondonLee on 2 Jan 2011 #

    PS: You lot are up very late, aren’t you? It’s 3am there.

  23. 83
    flahr on 2 Jan 2011 #

    It’s 3am? 3am? It’s 3am et… no Bunny no!

    I really like New Order so it’s great they got a Number One, and with a pretty good song to boot. I’d especially like to say how much – not being there at the time as I constantly point out – I enjoy the evocative readings of Tom and DJ Punctum (#3). They’ve helped me see a sense of optimism in the song I’d not really noticed before.

  24. 84
    enitharmon on 2 Jan 2011 #

    And I would like to add that my post late last night was the internet equivalent of throwing crockery at the wall. This has a lot to do with having had ‘flu over the Christmas season and now discovering after crawling out from the wreckage that nobody’s available to go out for a drink because they in their turn are down with ‘flu.

    “Working Class” experience takes many forms and aside from the fact that I have chosen to spend my declining years amid my gritty roots (being a cheap way of being close to sea and mountain) in a Victorian tenement Grade II* listed bijou Docklands apartment, I’ve always felt very frustrated by the narrow horizons and inherent small-c conservatism and my dislike of punk is consistent with supicion of those who wear their working-classness on their sleeves. Never stopped me feeling the albatross round my neck though.

    Perhaps in 2011 I’ll get around to doing what I’ve been threatening to do for years now and never got around to – wrting for FT above the line. It may well be concerned with a close observation of the working-class experience.

  25. 85
    enitharmon on 2 Jan 2011 #

    Oh, and Tom, does that “guest of honour” still stand if I insist on playing Sting and Annie Lennox?

    That supposed increasing proportion of women at the top of the charts – I’d be more impressed if they were there because of their vocal or instrumental talent and not because of the size of their implants. I remain cynical about a world in which such people lip-synch even in a “live” stage or TV performance (presumably because without electronic assistance they would be revealed as inept). Aretha Franklin they ain’t! Somebody even suggested on the radio the other week that the mighty Janis Joplin (whom Leonard Cohen had in mind when he sang “we are ugly but we’ve got the music”) wouldn’t even get a recording contract these days.

  26. 86
    Erithian on 2 Jan 2011 #

    OK, there’s a consensus that this is about the best example of collaboration between band and football team. It doesn’t always work that well. Ladies and gentlemen, from 1994, I give you … Germanyvillagepeople!

  27. 87
    Steve Mannion on 2 Jan 2011 #

    Had England made it to the USA ’94 World Cup we can only wonder what an official record would’ve sounded like and who would’ve been involved. I’m sure Keith Allen would’ve taken another toepunt with a proto-Fat Les affair but it would’ve been a bit too early for a full-on Britpop collab and any interest from Albarn would’ve clashed with ‘Park Life’s own major popularity that Summer. There may have been sufficient remaining interest in a WIM-esque dance number for that occasion but who to front it? East 17? Stereo MC’s? I’m struggling…

  28. 88
    Alex on 2 Jan 2011 #

    But hey, what do I know. I’m so uncool I think making the effort to be able so sing properly and learning to play an instrument is of more value than shrieking atonally and making bizarre random noises with an acoustic generator. But that, to the pampered public school elite of this forum (note that I never get invited to present Populist nights by the way, presumably I’m much too vulgar, and female to boot) is the True Authentic Existential Wail of the Downtrodden.

    Oh, for fuck’s sake. This is possibly the worst comment in the history of blogging, and would have been one of the worst letters in the Melody Maker’s history had it been written in 1994.

    Also, anonymous blog commenter whines about not getting to run somebody else’s nightclub. Fail.

  29. 89
    Izzy on 2 Jan 2011 #

    Hm, let’s take #84 as an apology and pretend the whole unpleasant episode never happened, shall we?

    I remember now feeling strangely underwhelmed by ‘World In Motion’ at the time. I fell in love with ‘True Faith’ and then ‘Touched By The Hand of God’ in 1987 (odd choices for an eleven-year-old!) and saved up to buy the Substance compilation from Boots the following year. I certainly never heard Technique, though I’ve had it on the past few days and it’s pretty flawless, another triumph from following Popular!

    I can’t remember exactly what I was wanting in 1990, but ‘World In Motion’ seemed watery and tuneless in comparison. I would have guessed something with a harder beat, but in actual fact I have a half-memory of hoping for a tune they would sing on the terraces – lovely as it is, I would be very surprised if ‘World In Motion’ had ever got that particular honour.

  30. 90
    heather on 3 Jan 2011 #

    Hey, I’m working-class too! But apart from that, I do want to rant about the Ian-isation of New Order in the last few years. I love Barney’s cracked, wobbly little voice and his clear little Blake lyrics, so it’s become increasingly frustrating that he’s been left out of the Official Narrative. The same way that a load of cokey Londoners took over indie and baggy and indie-dance and all that and rebranded it as ‘Britpop’, but that’s an argument for 1995.

    I mean, I like Joy Division well enough, but they don’t have a song as simple and perfect as ‘Your Silent Face’. For years as a teenager I rather brooded about this, as if I’d been wishing for someone’s death so that perfect records could be made. But then I realised that they’d have split up and made perfect electronic fluff anyway without the death aspect. It’s just annoying to see documentaries and clueless emo teens going straight from JD to the Mondays and putting New Order in some ’embarrassing 80s cheese’ category.

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