Paloma’s rugby song mauling
TV World Cup song infuriates viewers, and even singer admits it might be getting overplayed
Rugby fans have raised a petition to demand ITV stops playing Paloma Faith’s “awful” version of World In Union, the theme song of the Rugby World Cup
THE Rugby World Cup is such a success that it has already broken all records for the competition’s popularity – except, it seems, when it comes to the theme song. Paloma Faith’s rendition of World In
Union, the soundtrack to ITV’s coverage of the tournament, has driven many viewers to hit the mute button to avoid her “truly awful” vocals.
Rugby fans have now raised a petition calling on ITV Sport to drop the 34-year-old in favour of a more traditional version of the official World Cup anthem, which was first sung by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa in 1991.
Even Faith herself, who was named best British female solo artist at this year’s Brit Awards, has admitted that the song may be suffering from overexposure, as it is played briefly during every advertisement break, as well as during the ITV title sequence for each game.
Faith’s version of World In Union was first broadcast during coverage of England’s opening match against Fiji last week, prompting accusations that she had “murdered” the song, which is recorded by a different singer for every Rugby World Cup.
Even fans of the singer admitted she was the wrong choice for the anthem.
A petition on the change.org website “to remove Paloma Faith from the Rugby World Cup” was set up by someone calling themselves No Paloma. It says: “Already sick of Paloma Faith’s awful rendition of World In Union? Worried that it might ruin your Rugby World Cup? Then sign this petition and let ITV know your thoughts!”
A letter to ITV Sport accompanying the petition says: “We, the undersigned, request that you, ITV, remove Paloma Faith from the Rugby World Cup in order to make it a more enjoyable experience for all spectators.” Among the hundreds of signatories is Maureen Crothers, from Lisburn, near Belfast, who wrote: “Paloma Faith has butchered World in Union. Having to listen to this dirge every time a match comes on is ruining my experience of the Rugby World Cup. Please, please stop using her version of this classic rugby anthem as it is like having your ears grated with a cheese grater.”
Gail Kane, from Scarcroft, near Leeds, said: “Although I think she’s great, she is murdering that song.”
Mark Stocker, from Surrey, said: “I’m fed up with having to hit the mute button every ad-break.” And James Byrne, from London, commented: “It is awful. Truly awful. And I like Paloma Faith…” World In Union, which uses a melody from Holst’s The Planets, was commis
sioned by World Rugby in 1991 and has been used as the tournament anthem ever since. It was performed live at this year’s opening ceremony by the soprano Laura Wright.
Simon Halliday, the former England centre who won a runner-up medal in the 1991 tournament, said: “I certainly prefer the original version by Dame Kiri.” Brian Moore, the former England hooker, said: “To be honest I don’t like the hymn it’s based on, so it doesn’t matter who sings it.”
Faith, who will appear as one of the four coaches in the next series of BBC’s The Voice, shrugged off the criticism, saying: “Some people are slating it, I feel like they don’t like change, but I don’t mind.
“I mean I’m quite pleased with it, so that’s all that matters really. I think they don’t like it because it’s being played too much.”
Jonathan Shalit, the talent manager who has worked with Charlotte Church, Katherine Jenkins and other singers, disagreed with the criticism.
He said: “Paloma Faith is a brilliant singer with huge range and this has taken her voice towards greatness. It’s uplifting, it’s inspiring and it gets you in the right frame of mind.”
ITV declined to comment.
One more time: Paloma Faith. Left, Bryn Terfel and Shirley Bassey treat fans to a duet version of World In Union at the 2011 World Cup