Football doesn't need music.
It doesn’t need it in the pubs. It doesn’t need it pumping through Premier League players headphones. Football doesn’t need national anthems or classic rock hits backing slick TV montages. It doesn’t in any way require music, but take it away and what have you got? The grunts and groans of 75,000 people lurching into a giant stadium to witness the escapades of a wee white ball.
Music and Football - they never did need each other, but they always got on great at parties. How does Coldplay become cool when it accompanies slow-mo footage of a winning free-kick? And how does the man kicking the ball suddenly transform into a demi-god, saviour of all mankind? (Here's looking at you James McFadden!)
These days it seems impossible to imagine football without its extensive musical surround. For well over a decade, most football clubs in the UK have employed music supervisors to oversee the pre and post-match musical content. The nature of that content is carefully considered to not only enliven the sporting drama but hopefully present satisfying alignments with the socio-political concerns of the club’s fans. Hibernian’s affiliation with the music of the Leith brethren The Proclaimers, being an obvious example.
It's always interesting to note the various public figures, pop stars, celebs and politicians associated with any given football team. You could almost correlate from those individuals the kind of music that might feature over the stadium tannoy in the pre-match build up, (Brings to mind Leicester City players running out to ‘Fire’ by beloved Leicesterite rockers, Kasabian). Fans and clubs instinctively know they need to sing from the same hymn sheet and establish a united musical front, so to speak. In doing so they enforce all kinds of borders, spiritual and otherwise which, in the territorial world of football, is no small thing.
Football is an ever changing landscape and within it Music is following a similar path. For example, in my home of Scotland, the aforementioned Proclaimers favourite ‘500 Miles’ has been cast aside as the scoring song for the national football team, with 90s dance hit ‘Bits N Pieces’ by Artemesia winning a poll and instantly becoming a Scottish Football anthem.
Speaking of Scottish Football – listen to my score for the award-winning landmark BBC series ‘Scotland’s Game’ which covers the last 30 years of Scottish football – and keep your ears open for how music is used in today's Scottish Cup Final between Celtic and Aberdeen!
In short, Football doesn’t need music but it certainly couldn’t do without it.