‘3 Lions’ Goes From the Pubs & Streets of England to the Global Charts

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Italy may have prevailed in the UEFA European Football Championship, but it’s the U.K. that again transforms its EuroCup history into chart success. “3 Lions,” a 1996 anthem that has persisted among British football fans since its release, debuts at Nos. 79 and 181 on the Billboard Global Excl. U.S. chart and Billboard Global 200, respectively. (The charts began last September.)

A week after Bo Burnham broke ground for comedians, “3 Lions” brings U.K. comics David Baddiel and Frank Skinner (officially credited as Baddiel and Skinner) to the charts, alongside British alt/pop act The Lightning Seeds, fronted by Ian Broudie. The fight song notched 8.2 million streams (up 100%) and sold 5,800 downloads (up 111%) worldwide in the week ending July 8, according to MRC Data. The tracking week encompassed England’s semi-final victory on July 7, but did not include the championship game, in which the club came up just short, July 11.

“3 Lions” culled nearly all its streams and sales (99% and 97%, respectively) from outside the U.S., hence the 112-position gap between its ranks on the Global Excl. U.S. chart and Global 200. This extreme lean toward international activity is rare for an English-language song by British (or American, Canadian or Australian) acts, but the song’s hyper-specific context, driven by its “football’s coming home!” refrain, explains the lack of crossover. It’s also in total opposition to the Independence Day-fueled debut of Miley Cyrus’ 2009 hit “Party in the U.S.A.” (No. 179, Global 200), which drew more than 90% of its streams and sales domestically.

Notably, The Lightning Seeds scored U.S. chart success in 1990, when breakout single “Pure” hit No. 31 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song also rose to No. 8 on Alternative Airplay, where follow-up “All I Want” reached No. 9 that year. In 1992, the act added a third Alternative Airplay top 10, and its best showing, with the No. 2-peaking “The Life of Riley.”

“3 Lions” concurrently blasts 22-4 on The Official UK Singles chart, where it reigned via versions in 1996, 1998 and 2018.

Following England’s loss in the final match, a second week on the Global charts for “3 Lions” remains to be determined. But whether the song lasts for one week or two this month, it will likely behave closer to the timely chart runs of Earth Wind & Fire’s “September” (one week at No. 113 on the Global 200 after the tracking week that included the “21st night of September”) or Cyrus’ debut this week, as opposed to, say, Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” which transformed an unlikely TikTok meme into a top 10 resurgence and 41 weeks (and counting) on the Global 200.

Still, even if “3 Lions” departs the charts, it has a good chance to resurge around upcoming World Cups, just like “September” each fall and “Party in the U.S.A.” and other patriotic anthems each July.

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