While the national team inspired a nation, ‘Three Lions’ gets 6.8m audio streams, 5.2m video streams and another No 1
Whether you love it or hate it, Three Lions hit the top spot for a record-breaking fourth time. Originally released for the 1996 European Football Championship when the song spent two one-week spells at No 1, while the re-release in 1998 enjoyed three weeks at the top. And, once again, its songwriters David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and Ian Broudie are topping the charts with the same song.
The extraordinary feat makes it the first song in chart history to spend four separate spells at No 1 with the same line-up. Do They Know It’s Christmas? also had four stints at the top, but with different line-ups. Considering most football songs that enter the charts are best forgotten, why is this particular novelty tune still so revered?
At a glance, the song is a catchy anthem that sticks in the mind like the memory of a last-minute wonder goal. However, scratch below the surface and the true genius is revealed. Forget football, lads and larger, Three Lions celebrates failure – something English, or British, people are quite good at – tapping into the nation’s psyche and sense of humour. Not many other songs utilise such negativity, eventually turning the mood and filling people with hope and passion the way Three Lions does. The songwriters clearly understood its theme and how it could connect with its audience, and that is what makes it so successful.
Speaking to the NME in 1996, Baddiel said: “The song’s supposed to take you from one place to another. It starts off with, ‘Oh, yeah, I know what it’s like supporting England, they always fuck up. But at the end of it you’re supposed to think, ‘No, wait a minute…’”
He went on to explain, “That’s why, at the start you’ve got samples of Alan Hansen and Trevor Brooking saying what an awful state the English game is in, and then towards the end you get all these positive ones.”