“World in Motion” by New Order

New Order’s “World in Motion” was actually ahead of its time in a way, in that a good portion of it doesn’t even speak directly to soccer. Indeed in the third verse, John Barnes even goes as far as to proclaim that “this ain’t a football song”. But everything considered, that assertion would actually be false. 

However, it is pretty obvious that New Order’s intent with “World in Motion” was to create a piece that differs from your traditional soccer song, a genre that is actually quite popular in England.

So as for the first two verses, this piece reads like a general song of encouragement, basically inspiring the addressee/listener to be bold in doing his thing. And the chorus goes on to indicate that it is actually “love” that has “the world in motion”. 

So perhaps we can speculate that what New Order is putting forth is an idea like love should lie at the foundation of our personal ambitions. And when you add the English football team to the equation, it’s like they’re playing for global love, not simply to bring home the Cup – or something like that.

A Football Song?

As for the intro, interlude, outro and third verse, despite Barnes’ claim otherwise, those are the parts of this piece which come off more evidently as a football song. Or let’s say that even though “the pitch” is mentioned in the outro, that particular segment is more nationalistic, i.e. being focused on biggin’ up England as opposed to football per se. 

With the third verse, Barnes does a sound job of utilizing terminology that can be applied to sport but also the game of life in general.

But as for the intro and interlude, they feature actual football commentary. So even if as idealized “World in Motion” is supposed to have a general applicability, all things considered no one is more likely to listen to this song on a casual basis than an actual (England) soccer fan.

Lyrics for New Order's "World in Motion"


In some circles, the artist behind this track is recognized as ENGLANDneworder, since New Order actually performs it alongside the England National Football Team. That is to say that this piece was specifically in support of England’s efforts associated with the nation’s participation in the 1990 FIFA World Cup. 

As such, various members of the squad participated on the track, including most notably midfielder John Barnes, since he holds down the third verse.

Besides for John Barnes, other members of the 1990 England National Football Team who served as additional vocalists on this track are as follows:

  • Des Walker
  • Chris Waddle
  • Steve McMahon
  • Paul Gascoigne
  • Peter Beardsley

In the process, Gascoigne and Beardsley even dropped their own rap verses. These rap verses weren’t included on the final cut but did eventually make themselves public during an auction held in 2017.

Among the English national footballers who didn’t participate was forward Gary Lineker. It has been noted that he was rather working on his own song in support of the squad’s World Cup campaign, titled “If We Win It All”, which didn’t manage to catch on at all.

Success of “World in Motion”

New Order is a band that has been featured numerous times prior in this blog, as they rank amongst the more-successful turn-of-the-century British rock acts.

But interestingly, despite having 10 studio LPs and over 40 singles under their belts, they only topped the UK Singles Chart once. And it was actually “World in Motion”, which came out as a standalone single through Factory Records on 21 May 1990, that did so.

Credits for “World in Motion”

This song was written by New Order. At that time, the band consisted of the following:

  • Stephen Morris
  • Gillian Gilbert
  • Bernard Sumner
  • Peter Hook (who later quit the band)

Additionally Keith Allen, a prominent British comedian, officially contributed to the writing of “World in Motion”.

The entire New Order crew is credited with producing this track alongside Stephen Hague, an American musician, though one who has specialized in working with British acts.

World in Motion

Some More Interesting Facts

It has been noted that “Back Home”, a song helmed by the England National Football Team that participated in the 1970 World Cup, did top the UK Singles Chart. So technically, England’s soccer team is the only act to date to have dropped two songs that bested the UK Singles Chart, albeit with said act respectively featuring two completely-different lineups.

The working title of this song was actually “E for England”. But that idea was nixed due to the power that be realizing that as rendered, it somehow served as a roundabout shoutout to the popular yet illegal recreational drug, Ecstasy.

The voice heard in the intro of this track is actually that of the late Kenneth Wolstenholme (1920-2002). Kenneth was sort of a legend in the United Kingdom, as it was he who called the 1966 World Cup Final (which was held in England and that the English won). In the process, he dropped a couple of lines that went on to become famous catchphrases in the UK.  And it is those that he re-recorded to serve as the intro to “World in Motion”.

To note, England ultimately finished in fourth place at the 1990 FIFA World Cup, which was held in Italy.

“World in Motion” can also be found on a couple of New Order’s compilation projects, i.e. 1994’s “The Best of New Order” and 2011’s “Total: From Joy Division to New Order”.

Popular Usage of “World in Motion”

This was one of the many songs used in the 2002 British biographical comedy-drama movie “24 Hour Party People”.

In 2008, Series 2, episode 5 of British sitcom “Gavin & Stacey”. The rap part of the track was performed by a number of actors.

This was utilized in the popular British dating game show, “Love Island” (Series 3, Episode 17) in 2017.

Fans’ Reaction to “World in Motion”

“World in Motion” garnered a lot of love from fans around the world. A football fan from Argentina said that this track has the ability to cheer up any national team, something that he finds other songs lacking in.

Another fan, a German, called this song “beyond outstanding”. He’s been a fan of New Order ever since his father introduced him to the band. Being a fan of football too, he called this classic one of the finest football songs ever.

This track has also incorporated the start of the rave era in the UK, together with the ‘90s synths, making it withstand the test of time – something that a fan noted, as he compared it to the types of songs released these days.

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