“Three Lions” is the 1996 song by English rock band the Lightning Seeds and English comedian Frank Skinner and David Baddiel. The song was released in May 1996 to mark the English football team hosting the European Championships, and was composed by Ian Broudie . The song’s title refers to the three lions on the England team crest.
The song came to exist thanks to the Football Association asking the Lightning Seeds songwriter Ian Broudie to compose a song for the 1996 UEFA European Football Championship. From that, Broudie created a melody he felt would make a good football chant, asking comedians Skinner and Baddiel (who were presenters of the football comedy show “Fantasy Football League” at the time) to create the lyrics. The Football Association offered to have football players sinf on the song, however Broudie refused, stating that he did not want it to be “England-istic” or nationalistic, stressing that it was more about “being a football fan, which, for 90% of the time, is losing.”
Speaking to The Guardian in 2018, Baddiel spoke about the song’s increase in popularity over the years:
“The England team has been in the wilderness and the song always runs in parallel with the team. You can’t sing about it coming home when it’s lost. The difference between “Three Lions” and all other songs before it, including “World In Motion,” is it was the first song properly to be about football and actually to describe the experience of being an England fan.
We know rationally that we tend to disappoint but somehow we keep on hoping that things might be different this time. And that element of the song, of defiance, of hope in the face of history, picks up energy if history suddenly looks like it might turn round. Even though the song comes from a place of vulnerability, its central refrain can be chanted at the right moment – now, for example – when fans want to throw caution to the wind.”
The track was re-recorded in 1998 with different lyrics after England lost in a penalty shootout to Germany in 1996. A music video for the ‘98 version features a match being played by Baddiel, Skinner and Broudie, as well as them watching a watch in a pub while singing the song. Since the video’s upload in October 2012, the video has almost 30 million views and over 228 thousand likes.
Music Video Release Date: 1998 (‘98 version)
Music Video Director: n/a
The original version of “Three Lions” is certified double Platinum in the U.K.
The lyrics to “Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home) can be read here.
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