Chelsea FC should have an easy time name-dropping. This is a side, that canoodled with celebrities long before it had a trophy cabinet worth boasting about. The list of celebrities includes quite an array of musical talent from Bryan Adams, Damon Albarn, Jimmy Page, Busta Rhymes, Danii Minogue and Paul Oakenfold.
Yet, way back in 1972 Chelsea’s attempt at recording a single to mark their participation in that season’s Football League Cup Final would prove to be bittersweet. Despite starting as strong favorites, Chelsea would succumb to a dogged Stoke City who scored two past a valiant Bonetti. Despite that loss, Chelsea ensured that something would live on from that season.
With legends Peter Bonetti, Ron “Chopper” Harris, Tommy Baldwin and others joining Peter “The King” Osgood in front of the microphones set up at Wessex Sound Studios, Chelsea’s squad would give their fans a song that would serve as Chelsea’s official anthem for years on. “Blue is the Colour” is an upbeat, cheerful, light and almost too easy to sing along track that is instantly recognizable to True Blues around the world. Played at the end of almost every victorious home game, the song inspired several copies – one of which went on to feature in Margaret Thatcher’s successful campaign for the Conservatives in the UK General Elections.
And yet, while “Blue Is The Colour” usually comes after the game is done and dusted, there’s another quirkier track “The Liquidator” that plays before the start of games, when the crowd’s anticipation is at its highest. It has no lyrics, but Chelsea’s supporters more than make up for it with euphoric cries of the club’s name at just the right moment in the song. The Liquidator, unlike other quintessentially English songs, is a reggae track but without those characteristic vocals. The song however has also been used by other sides like Wycombe Wanderers, Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion.
In more recent times, Bryan Adams – a massive Chelsea fan – traded in his usually reliably golden touch for what can only charitably be called a rhyming ditty. With this song “We’re Gonna Win”, the Canadian rocker seems to have fallen for that all too easy to make misconception – artistes think a sports song is one that ought to trade musical excellence for a riff that you can easily hum. What follows is poor melody, lazy music and unimaginative lyrics – a combination so toxic most Chelsea fans wouldn’t touch it with a stick. Liverpool’s “You will never walk alone” stands apart as a rousing classic that doesn’t see sports fans as tune-challenged Neanderthals. Bryan Adams needs to do his favored club a better turn.
And then you have songs that have been adopted by the faithful, because of a fortuitous choice and placing of words. Like ‘the blues’ for instance. Elton John certainly fell victim with his song “I guess that’s why they call it the Blues” played occasionally at Stamford Bridge. For a club not entirely unfamiliar with disciplinary problems, the scenes of young boys being herded to some kind of military school should be ironic. But the real cringing must be reserved for when Elton John refers to ‘rolling like thunder, under the covers’.
You can only imagine John Terry wondering if someone’s having a laugh at his expense, when that part blares over the loudspeakers. You might be tempted to think Elton John’s loyalties lie with the West London side, but you’d be mistaken. The singer, who once famously threatened (in jest, of course) to “kill” his son if he ever supported Chelsea, is an ardent supporter of lowly Watford, even serving as its Honorary President for Life and former owner.
Graham McPherson, who christened himself Suggs to avoid being outed as Scottish, laid bare his club loyalties when he recorded what you might call an unofficial Chelsea anthem. “Blue Day” is a cheerful, up-tempo track that gets it right on more than one note. Over 5 decades earlier, a humorous song “the day Chelsea won the cup” that recounted a list of impossible things happening on a day Chelsea won a trophy, made quite the splash. Suggs acknowledged Chelsea’s troubles on that front, turning it into a call for loyalty. “We waited so long, but we’ll wait forever” is not just a nod at Chelsea’s older supporters, but also a reminder to the teeming millions of newer Blues around the world of the price that loyalty can exact.
If this fun, well-written song falls short, it’s because it only hints at a coming crescendo while never quite getting you there. It’s almost to the tune of a marching band, and that does take some edge off of it. The closest it rises to challenging some of the best sporting anthems out there is where Suggs eggs the listener on to “hear the Chelsea roar”. Released just before the 1997 FA Cup final win, the song would prove to be quite the good luck charm as Chelsea brushed Middlesbrough aside to register a 2-0 win. The scorer that day? A certain Roberto di Matteo.
Do Chelsea need a new song to rouse their troops? The Blues certainly have the musical talent at their beck and call. We’ve tried rock, pop and blues. Maybe it’s time for rap. Lil’ Wayne, who did the Green Bay Packers the honor of recording this track (warning – contains expletive content) is a fan of the Blues. Who’d have thought it?
What song would you say best exemplifies the Blues’ spirit? We’d love to hear your take in the comments section.