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OPINION: RWC organisers hit sour note with song choice

NOT FEELING IT: The Feelers have hit a sour note with their cover of "Right Here Right Now".

I WAS astonished when Martin Snedden unveiled a cover version of British band Jesus Jones’ song Right Here Right Now performed by the Feelers as the official unofficial anthem of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Now before I get into this I can already here some people saying “Big deal, get over it. You should be more concerned about whether Auckland will be ready in time for the event or if the All Blacks can end their 24-year drought at rugby’s showpiece event and finally lift the William Webb Ellis trophy.”

I agree. The abovementioned issues are legitimate concerns as the world cup draws increasingly closer.

However, that still doesn’t disguise the fact that event organisers have hit a sour note with many New Zealanders, who have panned the choice of song and group performing it.

No disrespect to the Feelers, but they’re hardly the greatest New Zealand band, are they?

Moreover, one of their songs was used on an advertisement for failed finance company Hanover, whose owners (Eric Watson and Mark Hotchins) have left many New Zealanders with bitter tastes in their mouths and financially up shit creek in a leaky waka without a paddle. Hardly a good look, eh?

But that is an entirely different matter altogether.

Surely a New Zealand song performed by a New Zealand band would have made sense given the event is being held in OUR OWN backyard?

Apparently not. The reason Right Here Right Now was chosen was because it tells a story of a significant moment in history (it is inspired by events that led to the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall), is catchy and well known internationally.

Be that as it may, opting for a foreign song – which isn’t even about sport – over a local one is  a slap in the face to the New Zealand music industry, which is currently thriving (see Gin Wigmore, Evermore, Dane Rumble, Lady Hawk, to name but a few) and has come along way since the days of Crowded House and OMC’s international smash hit How Bizarre in the 1990s.

The Rugby World Cup presented a grand opportunity to showcase this- as well as the other great aspects of Kiwiana that make our two little beautiful islands at the bottom of the South Pacific ‘heaven on earth’ – to a huge worldwide audience.

After all, the world cup is third biggest sporting event behind the Olympic Games and the Football World Cup, with the 2007 instalment drawing a global television audience of 4.2 billion.

It is estimated around 60,000 tourists will grace Aoetearoa for 45 days in September and October next year, meaning the rugby world’s eyes will very much be focused on us. Thirteen venues – from Whangarei in the far north to Invercargill in the deep south – will be spotlight and centre stage as 20 teams from around the globe do battle.

Using Right Here Right Now as part of an marking and advertising campaign is also questionable, as it’s implying the 2011 Rugby World Cup is going to be another huge, defining noment in world history.

While it will be a huge event for those in the rugby fraternity, it’s hardly going to carry the same weight – let alone significance – of the events depicted in the song. The world is not – I repeat, is not – going to stop spinning on its axis and come to a standstill when the All Blacks play their Pacific cousins Tonga in tournament’s opening game.

LOYAL: McCormick is plumping for Dave Dobynn's popular song to be the 2011 RWC anthem.

Entertainer and poet Gary McCormick, who has started a campaign to have the song changed, told the NZPA last week after the announcement was made that kiwis deserve to have a New Zealand tune as the unofficial anthem.

“The people of New Zealand are stumping up a couple of hundred million dollars so far and rising towards this World Cup and it’s being held in New Zealand,” he said.

“The very least we can do is have a New Zealand song for the anthem for the World Cup…”

However, I don’t agree the song should be Dave Dobbyn’s Loyal, which McCormick is plumping for.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good song – Dobbyn’s finest hour, I believe – but far too old. We’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt and coffee mug to show for it.

Anyone remember the 2003 America’s Cup? You know, that disastrous yachting regatta in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf where Team New Zealand’s mast snapped in half en route to being totally massacred by Alinghi.

Instead I reckon the organisers should have asked a New Zealand band or solo artist to write and perform a song for the occasion. How hard would it have been to approach a Kiwi muso with a description of what they wanted the anthem to epitomise?

Better still,  they could have had a bit of fun and run a competition where young unknown New Zealand singers, bands or songwriters are asked to enter their songs, with the winners getting the right to perform and record their masterpiece.

Think of the marketing opportunities that could’ve presented, not to mention the music career it could have launched given the ad featuring the song would be played worldwide.

Nonetheless it is unlikely the status quo will change. Whether we like it or not, the unofficial anthem is here to stay.

I just hope the organisers have the decency to make all venues across country to play only Kiwi music during games. That should at least go someway to showcasing the local music scene and appeasing those who are feeling a little ripped off that a New Zealand song was overlooked as the anthem for what’s going to be the biggest sporting event to hit our shores.

FOOTNOTE: The official anthem of the Rugby World Cup is World in Union, hence the use of official unofficial Rugby World Cup anthem when referring to the Feelers’ song.