by Raizel Liebler
Unless you are living under a rock, you’ve noticed World Cup fever — with the quadrennial playing of the beautiful game’s ultimate championship. But have you heard the best World Cup theme song OF. ALL. TIME? By New Order (yes, that New Order!)? Even if you don’t like it, World in Motion is arguably New Order’s most popular song; it is New Order’s only number one hit in the UK Singles Chart.
Contemptuous is the one word summary of New Order’s overall feel. And if you add in their bass lines and break downs, you’re basically done. But if you aren’t, New Order incorporated frog noises into their songs, long before others considered it. This is a quote from a typical New Order fan: The Perfect Kiss “contains the absolute best frog solo in the history of recorded music.” The fandom generally stands with the contemptuous mood, for I can imagine fans saying in response to this post “make sure your readers know World in Motion song isn’t World — that is a completely different New Order song.” Noted.
I love New Order so much that my favorite song of theirs is a particular remix of a b-side that I hold so dear and precious that my friends don’t know which particular remix it is, so I clearly fit within the overall snobbery of the fandom. But I love, love, love World in Motion. Love it enough that I have unashamedly bought the CD single — with additional drawn out remixes. Remixes that do not add any new breakdowns, but instead new slivers of quoting samples from football players (soccer if you’re U.S.). Samples that I do not understand, not because I don’t understand English, but because I don’t understand football.
So World in Motion takes one of (if not the most) looking-down-upon-you-lower-beings bands of all time and has them do one of the most joyful expressions of sports fandom love. This isn’t the corporate produced recent official World Cup songs, (like Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) and We Are One (Ole Ola)) where the song itself is created by a committee and then some world famous artist is specially selected to perform the song. New Order loves football, and as the song states — love — in the form of football — has got the world in motion.
The song is as nationalistic as it sounds, considering the song was produced for the England football team’s 1990 FIFA World Cup campaign, and features in the video and rapping in the song several members of the 1990 English team. And the “They think it’s all over” is a re-recording of the color commentary by football commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme at the end of the 1966 World Cup Final between England and West Germany, where England won their only World Cup championship to date.
But the best way to describe this song is cheeseball. Pure unadulturated cheeseball, nowhere else found in the oeuvre of New Order, like the Superbowl Shuffle. And for New Order “purists” who engage in unending discussions about who is the best songwriter in New Order or that only songs written by X are any good, all of the classic lineup of New Order co-wrote World in Motion — Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, and Gillian Gilbert.
I sing this song all the time — as I hope you will too. “We ain’t no hooligans — We’re playing for ENGLAND” The footballer who sings the rap bridge can still sing it 24 years later.
As a New Order fan put it so eloquently: “This is the best-slash-worst thing ever.”