Manic Street Preachers have unveiled their official Wales Euro 2016 anthem Together Stronger (C’mon Wales) – the song they hope will fire Chris Coleman’s team to footballing immortality in France.
This morning we premiere the video for the single, which was produced and directed by award-winning film-maker and regular Manics’ collaborator Kieran Evans. It features an appearance by the Wales football squad at their training base at The Vale Hotel, as well as documenting the highs and lows of Welsh international football history. The video opens with the emotion-wracked commentary of BBC Radio Wales’ Robert Phillips following Wales clinching qualification to their first major tournament for more than 50 years against Bosnia.
A suitably stratospheric riff from the guitar of James Dean Bradfield heralds in Together Stronger (C’mon Wales) and a song that it’s hoped will get the heart pumping, the adrenaline rushing and serve as the soundtrack to Wales' appearance at Euro 2016. The stirring string-laden anthem is sure to send shivers racing down the spine of any self-respecting Welsh football fan, with its suitably rousing chorus which namechecks Wales’ star men Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey – and lyrics courtesy of sporting oracle Nicky Wire. All profits from the single will go to the Welsh charities Princes Gate Trust and Tenovus Cancer Care.
For the Manics it was a case of finally being able to release a song that had endured so many false starts. “It had always been on the cards,” said Manics’ frontman James Dean Bradfield.
“Nick had written lyrics for a song during previous campaigns, but of course, they’d all bitten the dust. “It was the Belgium home game where the cogs in Nick’s head started whirring when we knew it was game on and we had a great chance of qualifying.”
Rock ‘n’ roll and football have never been the easiest of bedfellows. Music history is littered with the detritus of embarrassing collaborations and even worse songs, something the singer is more than aware of. “You always wonder if you can actually pull off a football song, because let’s face it there have been so many bad ones out there,” he said. “We’ve got to admit that the benchmarks are Three Lions and World In Motion – they are two great football songs."
However, James was always confident the Manics could pull it off – chiefly thanks to the knowledgeable sporting prowess of their bass player. “I thought we had a good chance because I knew that Nick would write such a well-informed lyric – there would be so much history in there," he said. “It’s something he just knows about. It’s been indelibly connected to him since he was seven years old. “He’s always been such a sports addict, whether it be rugby, football, cricket, boxing or athletics. “The golden rule with us is that whenever Nick gives me one of his A1 top lyrics, or whether it was Richey in the past, you always knew that you had the chance to create some amazing music.
“As soon as Nick gave me the lyrics I knew we could create a good football song.” “There’s no point being subtle with a football song,” said James, whose band headline a massive open-air show at The Liberty Stadium on Saturday, May 28.
“Kieran’s brief between him and Nick was to create a narrative that speaks of the heartbreak we’ve endured over the years, but that ultimately ends with the fiery phoenix rising from the ashes of failures. “People don’t associate Welsh football with that feeling of glory, so we wanted to convey that. “But we also wanted to show what a hard road it’s been for Welsh football fans and for the Welsh football team to get there.”
The video also features a memorable appearance from the whole Wales squad who look incredibly comfortable in front of the camera – and most importantly seem to be having a great time.
The lead singer confirmed the squad were naturals – with all the players bouncing up and down together in unison in one clip like the most ardent of football fans. “That moment happened when Kieran said to them ‘come on this is the last take, go for it’ and one of the players shouted ‘let’s have a tear up'," says James. “Everybody laughed and they were just enjoying themselves. “They’d had a full day of training and we felt a bit guilty asking them to do this at the end of the day, but it didn’t feel awkward. “All the players were great and went for it. It felt like a club mentality. It didn’t feel like a fake brotherhood. They were all so comfortable with each other.”
The Manics' frontman confirmed he hopes to make it to France, getting to the Slovakia game at the very least, but whatever happens he's going to savour the moment Wales finally qualified for a major international tournament after 58 years. “We all watched qualification with so much trepidation, which turned into expectation which eventually turned into joy. “It was so uncomplicated, it was so beautiful. “There’s no need to complicate it. Just enjoy it.”
Together Stronger (C’mon Wales) is available to buy from Friday.