British & Irish Lions
Lions reveal re-mixed 'Power of Four' anthem
July 4, 2013
The Lions are set to air their 'Power of Four' remix ahead of the Sydney showdown on Saturday © Getty Images
ESPNscrum takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the Lions' preparations for their series decider against Australia on Saturday...
The British & Irish Lions have released a remix of their much-maligned Power of Four anthem in the hope of striking a psychological blow ahead of their series-deciding clash against Australia in Sydney on Saturday night.
The controversial composition, commissioned by the then Lions head coach Sir Clive Woodward ahead of their troubled tour of New Zealand in 2005 and then subsequently panned by fans and pundits, has been dusted off with many industry insiders tipping the re-worked rallying call to be a hit in the charts and at the ANZ Stadium.
The classical arrangement of original composer Neil Myers that was debuted ahead of the '05 Lions' warm-up clash with Argentina and performed by Welsh opera starlet Katherine Jenkins has undergone a significant overhaul courtesy of singer-songwriter, rapper, record producer, and hit-maker Pharrell Williams.
Williams was recruited by Lions' officials earlier this year due to his input into two of the biggest worldwide hits of the year - Daft Punk's Get Lucky and Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines with chief executive John Feehan understood to have led negotiations.
The result is a new track described in a teaser statement as "a soul-infused, hip-hop heavy homage to the Lions." The refreshed anthem will be performed for the first time moments before kick off on Saturday with the most radical and eyebrow-raising element set to be a rap solo performed by prop Alex Corbisiero.
The input of the New York-born loose-head, widely known as 'the hip-hop prop', is not surprising given his well-known vocal talents* and the England international is relishing the chance to perform. "I was delighted to be part of this fresh take on the anthem," Corbisiero told reporters in Sydney. "The thought of performing in front of 80,000-plus fans is certainly daunting - more so than packing down against the Wallabies - but I'm confident I can nail the song and then the Wallabies."
Corbisiero is also honoured to be joining a long list of songs performed by leading sport's sides. "I used to spend hours in the mirror reciting John Barnes' rap from Italia '90," he recalled. "YouTube is full of gems like England's 1982 World Cup song and then there was that Kenny Rogers song The Gambler boys latched onto at the 2007 World Cup in France - and don't get me started on the Anfield Rap."
At this point the clearly enthusiastic Corbisiero could not contain himself any longer - he grabbed a microphone off the table in front of him and broke into Liverpool FC's famous song recorded for the 1988 FA Cup Final: "I come from Jamaica, my name is John Bar-nes, when I do my thing the crowd go bana-nas'".
The exact details of Corbisero's "caustic yet complimentary" rap are being kept under wrap with Lions officials insisting on a seemingly ever-present embargo. "I normally like the flavour to flow," insisted Corbisiero, "but just like our game plan for tackling the Wallabies - there has got to be some structure. I can't be running all over this lick."
Williams, who will be in Sydney to help perform the song, admitted to reporters he was not familiar with the sport of rugby. "Man! Do you know these guys play football without pads?!" he said before revealing he hoped his friend Snoop Dogg would also join the line-up for the pre-match show as long as "he sorts his s*** out with the Australian customs guys."
Lions officials refused to confirm that lock Paul O'Connell was in line to perform the rapping role until Corbisiero won his fitness battle although fullback Stuart Hogg did reveal via Twitter that he had caught O'Connell, his room-mate during the first tour stop in Hong Kong, talking quickly into his toothbrush in the early hours of one morning. O'Connell later joked he had been sleep-rapping and the tweet has since been deleted.
A spokesman rubbished the suggestion that the re-vamped anthem is just the latest effort to leverage the Lions' brand for commercial gain. "Nonsense," he said. "It's a free download provided free of charge in association with HSBC and will not cost fans a penny."
Corbisiero is not the only Lions player involved in what is shaping up as an intriguing appetiser for the crucial Test. Another prop, former England international Matt Stevens is also set for a key role in proceedings with the Celebrity X Factor runner-up poised to lead the London Welsh male voice choir that will accompany the squad and their special guests.
Following the confirmation of Stevens' role, social media was awash with reports claiming his musical talents were behind his shock selection for the tour with unconfirmed reports suggesting the surprising omission of Kelly Brown from the squad was down to his failure to win a sing-off with his Saracens team-mate.
Woodward, an outspoken critic of many elements of the current tour, was fulsome in his praise for the efforts to "bring the Power of Four message to a new generation of fans." However, it is understood that he has not heard the new anthem and like fans and the rest of the world will have to wait until the game to see if the Lions can hit the right note.
*WARNING: This video contains alarming footage of Simon Ward, commentator and the 'voice' of Twickenham, attempting to dance.
Lions prop Alex Corbisiero will have a microphone and not a ball in his hand at the ANZ Stadium on Saturday night © PA Photos
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