Amazingly, despite England's failure to qualify, UEFA have decided to press ahead with Euro 2008. Ian Plenderleith has a listen to the songs battling it out for European glory

There seem to be a lot of “official” Euro 2008 songs about. Either some songs are claiming to be official when they aren’t or, like the scope of the competition itself, the genre of official tournament song is expanding. Just as some have proposed fleshing the finals out to 24 teams, the continent’s pop stars are demanding there be at least three UEFA-sanctioned tunes. That’s one for each host nation, then another for the tournament overall. We think. Head to YouTube for all the latest attempts to convey the spirit of football into three minutes of mindless music.

Austrian pop singer Christina Stürmer (possibly chosen because her surname translates as “striker”) has admitted on TV that she doesn’t understand the rules of football, but that hasn’t stopped her from singing Wir Haben Fieber (We’ve Got Fever), a predictably dreadful effort whose highlight is a verse proclaiming: “The city’s brightly lit/Do you hear the screams on the streets?/The crowd is going crazy…” That’s only because these words conjure up an image of fervent revolution rather than one of Austria fans getting ready for certain humiliation. If you wait until the end of the video, you’ll be rewarded with the sight of a Croatia fan rubbing a comforting hand over the pot belly of a distraught England supporter.

In Switzerland, one of the country’s few internationally known pop stars, DJ Bobo, is dragged out for an even more desultory effort called Olé Olé. At least they don’t sample fans singing “Olé Olé”, but we do get a pop-by-numbers riff articulated with: “Come on everybody, let’s celebrate/Break the rules and sing Olé Olé…” At this rate the stadiums will be empty because all the kids are out on the streets having a mass rave and celebrating and jumping into each others’ arms. Any chance of something about the actual game?

That would be the official anthem, Like A Superstar, accompanied by an amateurish animation featuring mascots Trix and Flix, to music by Shaggy, who has composed a predictably fustian noise that will spoil your pre-game should you be one of the few actually to get inside a stadium. For the rest of us, there’s the consolation that this reflects the kind of turbo-charged super-event that major tournaments have become.

But all is not lost. From Linz comes a song that you may find either disturbing, hilarious or brilliant, or possibly all three, and which perhaps better reflects the current psyche of the Austrian football fan. Step forward heavy rock outfit Alone and their anthemic Wir Geben Uns Die Kugel, which you can translate as either “We pass ourselves the ball” or “We give ourselves the bullet”. The soccer/suicide double entendre is no accident.

The video shows the band sitting in a dark pub singing, deadpan: “We were always ­masochists… but this time it’s going to be even worse/A disaster, a debacle/For masochists a super spectacle/90 minutes of pain with beer in cans and black candles.” It ends up in a brawl with chairs flying around, a refreshing change of tone to the official idea that all football fans these days are running arm in arm through the streets having a great big party, regardless of the score.

We Give Ourselves The Bullet comes from the double-CD Swiss/Austrian compilation Lieber Ein Verlierer Sein (Rather Be A Loser), released on Vienna-based Las Vegas Records, and which includes a slice of superb mittel­europa electro-angst in the form of 1978 by Clemens Haipl, and featuring the voice of former Austria star Willy Kreuz, who played in the finals in Argentina. The rest of the disc covers all manner of indie-genres, judging by the five songs posted on MySpace, leaning towards the apocalyptic (The Prater Stadium’s Burning), or the utopian (Picnic On The Football Field and Where Stadiums Have No Sponsors’ Names).

For laughs closer to home, check out John Terry, also known as The England 2008 Song That Never Was, which appears to be entirely serious, even when singer Phil Hamer’s voice goes all squeaky, like a parody of a ten-year-old boy in angry denial, to sing the chorus: “We can beat anyone we like.” Ah, that’s why England didn’t beat Croatia. Because they didn’t like them.

From WSC 256 June 2008

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