God (with the help of a few UIUC alums) created YouTube so that we could unearth video gems that had long left the public’s consciousness. Over the last 40 years international soccer federations have left us several gems in the form of peppy send-off songs for their national teams.
So, let’s talk about these songs and then translate them into Illini speak.
The German send-off songs contain all the elements that endear—humility, mild awkwardness, and sincerity — which is what makes their 1994 send off song all the more troubling for the U.S. In 1982, Germany beautifully serenaded the Spanish host with “Ole España”. In 1986, Die Mannschaft played a lovely tribute to the Mexican host with “Mexico Mi Amor”.
Then came 1994 when it was time to play a tribute to the U.S. Think all the great American musical acts Germany could have teamed up with back then: Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Guns-N-Roses, Springsteen, Van Halen, or even Garth Brooks. Instead, the Germans chose the Village People. Yep, this was how the German viewed us and probably still view us.
This is Lou Hensen and the 1985 Illini prior to heading to Atlanta to play in the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament (where they happened to play the Georgia Bulldogs) pays tribute to the Peach State (with the Allman Brothers, REM, the B-52s and others great Georgia musicians of the time at their disposal ) by teaming up with.......wait for it.......... the Indigo Girls. Yep, It doesn’t make sense neither did Germany teaming up with the Village People 15 years after their disco peak.
Denmark did not professionalize the national team until the late 1970s. But, they quickly caught on sending Denmark into a frenzy when they qualified for the 1986 world cup. Prior to departing for Mexico, the Danish Dynamite recorded a gem.
Take it away Patrick Bateman:
Re-Sepp-Tenn is the most beautiful World Cup song of the 1980s. A melodic and inspiring piece about a nation in its first World Cup trying to carve out a unique identity in the face of mass conformity. It’s beat is hopeful and inspiring. The song precisely captures the mood of national heroes embarking on a treacherous journey.
This is John Mackovic in 1989 or Ron Turner in 1999 gathering the Illini in a studio for a sing-a-long prior to their respective bowl trips against UVA. The blowout bowl wins over UVA were fun, inspiring, and hopeful just like mid-to-late 80s Danish soccer.
France - 1986 World Cup
Viva Les Bleus. I have a recurring nightmare about the day this one is no longer available on YouTube.
Only Bill Self has the requisite swag to pull off a hype video as great as Viva Les Blues. This is the 2001 Illini with Self, Sergio McClain and Frank Williams heading out to play in the NCAA Tournament.
England - 1990 World Cup
In the summer of 1990, English soccer and English group New Order mixed to produce the perfect offspring: World in Motion. The song actually hit No. 1 on the charts.
Before heading to the 2007 Rose Bowl, Illinois teams up with Kanye and Pitbull to create a jam to to send the Illini off to Southern California in style. To top things off, this also ends up No. 1 in the charts. Let’s take a second to fantasize about Zook, Mendenhall, and Juice’s Grammy acceptance speech. Dale!!!