The Power of Four
|"The Power of Four"|
|Song by Melody Music Lions Choir|
"The Power of Four" is a joint anthem composed for the British and Irish Lions rugby union team. It was written by Neil Myers in 2005. It was commissioned by the Lions head coach, Sir Clive Woodward for the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand as the official song. It was intended to be a universal anthem for the British and Irish Lions to be sung before every game. However it was criticised as being uninspiring as members of the Lions squad did not engage with it and it was also noted that the fans did not like it. It was dropped as the Lions anthem after the 2005 tour and led to changes in the way music would be chosen in future Lions tours.
Historically, the British and Irish Lions were intended as a representative team of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland however, when the Irish Free State broke away from the United Kingdom it was deemed inappropriate for the British and Irish Lions to use the British national anthem, God Save the Queen. As a result of this, the British and Irish Lions did not have an anthem to represent them before any of their matches until 2005.
2005 Lions Tour
The Power of Four was commissioned by Sir Clive Woodward for the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand and was written by Neil Myers. It was recorded by the Melody Music Lions Choir. The song is a classical composition played in a high key. It was first performed live by Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins before the British and Irish Lions rugby union match against Argentina at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales in 2005. it was performed despite suggestions of either God Save the Queen, the Welsh national anthem Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau or a combination of the anthems of the Home Nations of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland being played instead of The Power of Four. It is always sung in English.
Before the British and Irish Lions squad was selected, Woodward sent out bracelets with "The Power of Four" printed on them to potential British and Irish Lions players to try and create a sense of unity and to make them think about the upcoming tour to New Zealand. This was criticised as being "crazy". The Power of Four was also used as a motivational slogan in some of the Lions' team building activities.
The lyrics of The Power of Four were circulated to all of the members of the British and Irish Lions tour squad and the song was pre-added to the playlists on their tour iPods. The song was not released as a single however it was permitted to be broadcast by radio stations and it was made available to download on the Internet. The British and Irish Lions players were shown the words of The Power of Four on the Saturday before their first game and it was expected that they would know the words by the time they had arrived in New Zealand. However it was mentioned by a British and Irish Lions spokesman that the players were under no obligation to sing it.
The BBC opined during the British and Irish Lions' warm-up game against Otago that it was not inspiring for the Lions supporters to sing. Austin Healey observed that the players did not appear to like The Power of Four when it was performed.
Before the first Test match, it was noticed that despite British and Irish Lions fans being filmed singing The Power of Four, none of the players did sing it when it was played as the Lions anthem before God Defend New Zealand. It was also noted that Lions fans felt that The Power of Four was not catching on and some even suggested that Axel F would be better than The Power of Four. It was also suggested that due to a perceived selection bias towards English members of the Lions, that Land of Hope and Glory should be used instead of The Power of Four. The acting British and Irish Lions captain Martin Corry said that he did not attempt to sing The Power of Four because he felt that he would not be able to reach the correct notes. In 2009, British and Irish Lions player Alun Wyn Jones said that "I'd rather sing The Power of Love" when asked if he would want to sing The Power of Four.
The song experienced a mixed response in the media. In July 2005, following the Lions tour, a journalist on the BBC Sport website, James Standley, commented that The Power of Four is "hollow and disliked by fans." However, Lions coach Sir Clive Woodward said he hoped it would "stir the passions". It was also described in The Independent as an "excruciating mix of politburo and classical pop". However Danny Stevens in The New Zealand Herald said that "The Power of Four was not a bad song but unfortunately nobody actually knew the tune or the words." The words of The Power of Four were also compared to be similar to the New Zealand Māori rugby union team's "Timatanga" haka in The Telegraph.
The negative reception of The Power of Four was listed as one of the issues used to criticise Woodward for the failures of the tour. It was also pointed out that Woodward and team manager, Bill Beaumont used The Power of Four whenever they entered into a press conference which led to the press conferences being referred to as possibly being "mistaken for a revivalist meeting".
The Power of Four was so negatively received, that it was announced that future British and Irish Lions tours would have songs and themes chosen by a musical committee set up in the wake of the 2005 tour instead of by the team coach. After 2005, The Power of Four became largely forgotten. During the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia, ESPN jokingly suggested that The Power of Four would be remixed into a hip hop song for the third test by Pharrell Williams and would be performed by Snoop Dogg.
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- MP3 file archived from the British and Irish Lions' site. Note: here the lyrics are slightly different: "our countries' call" rather than "our lions' call".