The Michael Jackson statue outside the Fulham football ground is a nice reminder to me of the gear-grinding awkwardness of trying to mix music and sport.
Usually, sticking on some pounding rock or techno as the theme music for a sports programme or when a team comes out onto the pitch seems to be about the extent of the interface. Tacky, predictable and … fairly harmless. I seem to recall (in the dim distant days when I still had a flicker of interest in sport) a football programme using Blur’s Song 2 to jolly things along.
It doesn’t really work though. If the music’s halfway decent it’s soon going to suffer from this kind of exposure. Even the clever and much-applauded trick of the BBC using Nessun Dorma during its 1990 World Cup coverage began to grate over time.
Even as a callow teenager I noticed the oil and water nature of music and sport. Once, watching a Coventry City football match at Highfield Road in the late 70s, the public address played Generation X’s King Rocker at half-time. An innocent time-filler from the charts, or so the people doing the music at the ground must have thought. But it sort of “exceeded” the moment, calling me (as it were) away from the terraces and the “Who are you?” herd behaviour of the football crowds. The same dissonance occurred with cricket. On one occasion, when I was about 14, I was hustling for autographs from some Dennis Amiss-era Warwickshire cricket players as they were getting into their cars in the car park. What do we hear from their car radio cassettes? Oh dear, something like Supertramp or Genesis. Not the Buzzcocks, not the Stranglers, not even Squeeze or Joe Jackson. Oh dear. Even a 14-year-old knew something was wrong.
Never the twain. John Peel tried hard (too hard) to bridge the gap sometimes, banging on about Liverpool, bringing on Pat Nevin to talk about music. It didn’t work. Occasionally – very occasionally – it did. So Colourbox’s Official Colourbox World Cup Theme in 1986 just about passed muster and we could all sleep easily again for a while. And, as we did so, the yawning gulf opened up again … Just the other day the Guardian’s April Fool’s piece about Derek Dougan and psychedelic 60s music exploited the divide quite cleverly (though April Fool’s media jokes are becoming a big bore themselves).