Alex James: The Great Escape

Blessed be my World Cup anthem
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The Independent Online

It's been quite a glamorous week. I left the beau monde of the Whitechapel Gallery quite early on Thursday night, but the in-crowd at their annual gala fund-raiser demonstrated, by their very hipness, that apart from Music, which is, ironically, all available for nothing now, Art is currently the universe's most precious commodity. It's the way it should be. The art brigade are definitely the best fun. Art has seen off the vulgar cults of Celebrity and Youth as the most potent elixirs of marketing. Art Voodoo casts its spell over the young, the famous and the fabulous like never before. They won't go to a restaurant or club with no contemporary art on the walls. I realised this and sacked Soho House - there's no art in there.

So Embrace are to write the official World Cup song. I've done a couple of football songs and I've never had so much fun. Fat Les did the official Euro2000 song and I stood with the England team to have my photo taken. I was a head taller than the goalkeeper and the back four. I realised I might have overspent on the budget. You sell about 50,000 records every time they score. It had a 200-piece orchestra, five choirs and cannons going off at the end. EMI have never forgiven me; they should have their money back by 2022 though, if we do well. I'm not sure if the words "official" and "record" should ever go next to each other.

I talked to quite a lot of newspapers and TV crews last week promoting Whitechapel's Art Plus Music event, but they all wanted to talk about football. I'd forgotten what a monster the World Cup is. I've got married and had children since the last one, and drifted away from football a bit. I was mulling over it all when I walked into the green room at Sky Sports on Saturday, as a guest of Soccer AM. I'd been urged by everybody to save the nation from Embrace if possible but I didn't know what to do, or who to do it with. There are so few occasions where people just sing. I can't think of where it happens apart from football matches.

They're hungry for something to sing when we're winning.

Walking into green rooms at TV studios is a bit like going inside the telly. You can be next to someone you've always wanted to meet, or someone you've called an idiot who turns out to be alright. People on TV have amazing faces, though. They're more triangular than you'd think possible. Betty Boo and I were talking to a really charming boxer when Brian Blessed walked in. He just didn't stop talking and everything he said was astonishing. He's trying to get to Mars and he thinks everyone who isn't is somehow missing the point of the 21st century. I feel exactly the same. Whenever I meet someone who wants to go to Mars, I try and hang on to them. They haven't given up having dreams. Brian sang O Sole Mio, from the Cornetto advert, in a perfect operatic tenor voice. Every time he shouted, or burst into song, the football fans joined in, as if charmed.

I said, "You've got to do a football record, mate." He said, "Yes! And we can give the money to charity!" Brian Blessed on a mountain top, call-and-response melody, big drums, opera-stylee. Now, that could work.

alexjames@independent.co.uk

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