When footballers Glenn Hoddle and Chris Waddle became unlikely popstars, and actually had a fantastic song

14 January 2021, 14:14

Glenn Hoddle and Chris Waddle had a hit single in 1987
Glenn Hoddle and Chris Waddle had a hit single in 1987. Picture: Record Shack Records/YouTube

By Tom Eames

Cast your mind back to 1987. It was an era where just about anyone could release a single and it wouldn't be that weird. Roland Rat and EastEnders star Nick Berry were scoring hits, so why not a footballer?

Kevin Keegan had given it a go with... mixed success. But no one had tried it in the new era of '80s synths and electronica. Now, you might say there's a reason for that, but stay with us...

In 1987, two of England's biggest footballers had a crack a pop stardrom, and took it pretty darn seriously. And it... sort of... worked.

Glenn Hoddle and Chris Waddle teamed up for what proved to be a one-off single called 'Diamond Lights'. It has since gone down in pop folklore as one of the worst pieces of music ever made.

Glenn and Chris - free poster!
Glenn and Chris - free poster! Picture: Record Shack Records

However, we'd argue that pop historians are being rather harsh on the duo. Sure, they looked ridiculous on Top of the Pops in their Miami Vice get-up. The whole thing just looks like one big cringe-fest.

But while they've been an easy target of ridicule all these years, if you just took the song on its own, it's not actually that bad. If anything, it's... quite good?

Read more: 6 pop artists you totally forgot released football songs

If you heard 'Diamond Lights' without knowing who it was, or if you thought it was from a band of the era, we reckon you'd probably quite like it as a piece of catchy '80s electro-pop in the style of A-ha, Duran Duran or Tears for Fears.

But as soon as you realise it's two footballers with zero stage presence and dodgy haircuts, it's game over. Full time.

Chris Waddle and Glenn Hoddle as they were in 1987
Chris Waddle and Glenn Hoddle as they were in 1987. Picture: Getty

'Diamond Lights' came about after an appearance the duo made for their personal sponsors, Budget Rent a Car, at an annual company awards ceremony. The pair had an impromptu karaoke sesssion, which was apparently praised by a friend with connections in the music industry, who introduced them to Bob Puzey.

Puzey had written songs such as 'I'm in the Mood for Dancing' by The Nolans, and auditioned the pair and agreed to write and co-produce a single for them. In case you were wondering, the 'diamond lights' of the song refers to Puzey's wife's eyes.

The song ended up climbing to number 12 in the UK singles chart, which is pretty good going considering back then you needed to shift quite a big chunk of copies to get that high. However, the record company marketed them as Glenn and Chris instead of Hoddle and Waddle. Who made that decision?!

It even had a picture disc version. Just look at this excellence:

Diamond Lights vinyl
Diamond Lights vinyl. Picture: Record Shack Records

However, it's their Top of the Pops performance which has gone down in pop legend as one of the show's cringiest moments.

Dad dancing galore, it's a joy to behold.

Waddle later remembered it as "the most nerve-racking thing [he'd] ever done" and that the duo had to appear on the programme in person, as the producers had refused to air the music video because "[it] was so bad."

How bad could it be?

Oh.

The video sees the boys flanked by an unknown mysterious lady who stares intensely at the camera. At the end, they leave the studio to sign autographs for football fans, only for the woman to appear and stare again, as if she's about to do something menacing.

Hoddle later recalled the appearance on TOTP in a positive way, referring to it as "one of the greatest things I ever did. I'm glad I did it and I learnt a lot from it."

Read more: 9 really bad songs by brilliant artists

Glenn & Chris even recorded and shot a music video for a follow-up single entitled 'It's Goodbye', but promotion for its release was stalled after Hoddle's transfer to AS Monaco, and the song only reached 92.

Since then, plenty of other footballers have given music a go with various levels of success from Paul Gascoigne, John Barnes, Andy Cole and Chris Kamara. But we'd say none of them were as amazing as Glenn and Chris's attempt.

10 years later, when interviewing Hoddle for the England manager job, FA chief executive Graham Kelly apparently asked him, "Any skeletons in the closet?" before joking, "apart from that record with Chris Waddle?".