England’s tournament anthems down the years have ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous.
The successful ones have pulled people together, and said something about the country at the time.
World in Motion reflected some of the early electronic music scene and some pretty suspect rapping, while Three Lions and Vindaloo captured different shades of Britpop and wry English humour.
After being entrusted with the Euro 2020 song, Krept and Konan set out on a journey to write something relevant to the modern landscape – both musical and social.
The south London duo document the process in Krept and Konan: We Are England, which is streaming on BBC iPlayer.
The documentary is an exploration of the changing face of England, its diverse national team, and whether football fandom has become more inclusive.
We caught up with Krept and Konan during filming for the new Rap Game series – and they told us about the challenges they faced trying to write an anthem to get the whole nation fired up.
‘There’s a lot more to England than London’
Krept says one of the key things they had to be aware of was “everyone has a different definition of what England is”.
He said: “You might ask someone what they think England means and they might say: ‘Council estates.’ Someone else might say: ‘Pubs and fish and chips.’
“We put out a tweet asking people what their perception of England was. Some people even said: ‘Racism.’ It’s not easy to capture everything.”
Part of that diversity of thought is down to diversity of background and to get a fuller picture of England, the boys – who have West Indian heritage – hit the road.
In one scene they visit Old Trafford to speak to Manchester rapper Aitch, who brings them up to speed on some Mancunian slang.
In another, they climb in the Peak District – both wearing inappropriately fresh trainers – to get a new perspective on what it means to live in England.
“I don’t know what you’re supposed to do once you get up here,” says Konan in the film.
But what did they take from the journey?
“It was just a reminder that there’s a lot more to England than London,” says Krept.
“We were up so high and we were looking and seeing these little cottages and thinking: ‘How do we make something that they’re going to understand? Or, at least, if they don’t like the song, there’s got to be something that they know.'”
‘Players on the pitch from the same walks of life as us’
The boys meet some of England’s footballers, who offer their feedback on the track (it’s safe to say midfielder Declan Rice is a fan) but also allow the film to further explore race and English identity.
Gareth Southgate’s team have been hailed as a modern symbol of the strength of diversity.
“We’re supporting England and seeing players on the pitch from the same areas and walks of life as us,” says Krept.
While on the road, they meet striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s father and grandfather.
“Grandad was white, dad was black, he’s mixed,” says Krept. “They all had different opinions, different experiences from different generations.”
In another scene, former England international Eniola Aluko gives the boys a black history lesson at Hampton Court, where she tells them about John Blanke – a royal trumpeter from the time of Henry VIII.
‘When it comes to England, we’re all together’
As part of an exploration into the changing face of football fandom in England, Krept and Konan – together with rapper Big Zuu – look back on past anthems.
Mostly, they’re just seen as a gauge of the musical landscape of their eras. But some uncomfortable questions are raised.
In one scene, Krept and Konan watch footage from popular ’90s fan culture show Fantasy Football, in which David Baddiel does blackface while dressed as former Nottingham Forest player Jason Lee.
Baddiel has since apologised, saying: “It was wrong. I am sorry.”
Krept says: “Fan culture’s changed a lot. And sports too. Back in the day, there might be one or two black players. Now, when you go to a football game, there’s such a diverse amount of fans and players.”
Both he and Konan hope they have created an anthem that will unite people.
Krept says: “We all support different teams, but, when it comes to England, we’re all together.”