World Cup of Music A-D

Groups A-D

World Cup of Music is a series of blog posts following the World Cup in South Africa through the music of each country. I’m not an expert on the music of the 32 countries, but I am interested in it. I will provide links to the wikpedia page for each national football team which are constantly updated. I will respond to each country’s music in the way that it interests me; historic, Pop or World. I intend to “play” each match by getting you to vote on the videos selected which will change for each “match.” There is a very good overview of South African Music by Neil Spencer with a link to related online musical resources at Spotify. I wanted to use one of the Township whistlers tunes as a theme tune for these posts but The Solven Whistlers aren’t on YouTube and Tom Hark is poorly served. So straight into Group A.

Group A; features South Africa, Mexico, France and Uruguay; perm any two from four. This is tough for South Africa but French manager Domench is in a private battle with Maradona on who can do worst with the best resources. South Africa are at home and did well in the Confederation Cup last year, Uruguay are one of my dark horses as Diego Forlan scores great goals in the World Cup and won the Europa Cup for Atletico Madrid, and Mexico usually get out of the group they are in, so a very evenly poised group. Can France leave out Nasri and ace forward Benzema and still survive? I doubt it! So June 22nd at 3pm will be shootout time. Interesting? Very interesting!

South Africa v Mexico; June 11th.

South Africa has a great musical history. Even before Paul Simon highlighted some of the township jive musicians on Graceland, Johnny Clegg had toured Europe and Hugh Masakela was well-known in the USA and UK. The Indestructible Beat of Soweto highlighted more  grassroots music in the 80s, and some of the current music is covered on Ayobaness; South African House. So here is DJ Mujava from Pretoria with the ‘Township Funk’ of Mugwanti; 

Mexico have a wonderful tradition of Latin music and have had great influence on the border states of the USA, East LA and Tex-Mex variants reflecting the musical richness of borderlands. Mexico’s own musical history is a diverse melange of influences and ranges from Banda through Mariachi and Cumbia with modern metal and ska variations. Very influential on fifties Rock n Roll through the Latin music that pervaded Big Bands in the 40s and 50s along with related Afro-Cuban influences.  Music in Mexico is more culturally integrated into everyday life and creates a backdrop to everything. Wow how to sum that up with a backdrop for football? My prediction 1-1. I’ve just got into Lila Downs so here is El Relampago & Arenita Azul Live;

Uruguay v France; June 11th

Uruguay is squeezed between Brasil and Argentina and often overlooked as a nation since we stopped buying Fray Bentos corned beef. However they won the first World Cup in 1930 and started the tradition of hosts winning as well as beating Brasil in the Maracana in the final game in 1950. No-one ever talked to the goalkeeper in Brasil again and the Brasil FA (CBD) commissioned the new yellow kit with which they conquered the football world; it was designed by a Uruguayan. And whilst Argentina is famed for the tango the all-time great Tango singer, Carlos Gardel, is Uruguayan. So Uruguay, more influential than it seems. It’s music is a typical South American mix of forms but candombe and tango are important and Montevideo has a developing modern club scene in which female musicians play a key part, La Dulce Jardin Japones; 

France; left, right or both? A completely two-footed history. I’ve just been reading The Discovery France by Graham Robb which rewrites French history from primary sources he found by cycling the country by bike; Tour de France documentaire. Not much on music though as that’s more a Parisian thing, but France has a long and diverse musical history. Rock and Folk now provide the authoritative view on modern French Music. President Jacques Chirac made it law that French radio play at least 40% French music and it is this technocratic attention to detail that created Chateauroux, Houllier and a World Cup win as hosts in 1998. My prediction 2-1. I’ve always wanted to start off with Charles Trenet et aller maintenant mon fils! Boum!

Group B

Group B features Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece, all of whom have had football tournament success in recent years. Mind You Argentina and Nigeria have looked unstoppable before and crashed out (in 2006 & 1994), whereas South Korea and Greece looked one-dimensional but achieved success (in 2002 and 2004). I expect Argentinian skill and Nigerian power to prevail but won’t be surprised if they don’t; oops John-Obi Mickel out for Nigeria so it could be wide open. Luckily Argentina have Maradona, a good a football coach as Bobby Charlton.

Argentina v Nigeria June 12th

Argentina. Like France doomed to failure with a mad coach. But musically one of the most interesting countries in the world right now with Nuevo Tango and Narcotango revitalising their music. Buenos Aires is now one of the cool club cities whilst their economy shows us how to do double-dip gloriously. However to start off with there is only one possible tune La Gloria; inspired by the famous Hand of God goal by Maradona this is the Gotan Project acting out every schoolboys fantasy, describing themselves scoring a goal in the World Cup.

Nigeria A recent BBC documentary by Jonathan Dimbleby picked up on the new hip-hop scene in Lagos. Nigeria has a fabulous musical heritage and I am a big fan of 70s Nigerian musicians, check the recent Soundways compilation, such as Juju King Sunny Ade, who Vampire Weekend happily steal from, and Afrobeat Fela-Ransome Kuti and his sons. Of whom I think I prefer Femi Kuti. I love Let’s Make History but here with a well Nigerian video is Beng, Beng, Beng, Let’s Make…: 

South Korea v Greece June 12th

South Korea Represented here by the K-Pop of Korean Music TV. I’ve looked at a few of these K-Pop videos and to me they look like Simon Cowell’s choice of music for a Clockwork Orange droogscape. Frighteningly on the money. Let’s hope there is more than Route One to come from South Korea. – Magic by One Way;

Greece I am going with Mikis Theodorakis on this opening one, just to contrast with the madly consumerist K-Pop. Greece has history like we have weather and here is a great video from the soundtrack to award-winning film Z by Costas-Gavras capturing some modern history. I once went to see a Theodorakis concert full of great music in Rome. Greek translated into Italian; sounds like a recipe for footballing success.

Group C

Group C features, yes you guessed it, us (England), USA, Algeria and Slovenia. Hmm, looks like an easy group for England but we always disprove that. You always need 1 win and 2 draws at the group stage and the well organised USA, who can score goals and provided a real football shock in South Africa when they reached the Confederations Cup Final last year, will expect to qualify. Algeria look pragmatic, not as philosophical as when Albert Camus was reserve goalie, but had a mixed year reaching the finals of the African Cup of Nations before being hammered by Egypt who they knocked out of the Mondiale. They look hard to beat. Slovenia think they have an outside chance of winning. Despite beating a good Russian team to qualify, they are right, but will also be hard to beat.

England v USA June 12

England created modern popular music because, although we have a rigid class system, we didn’t have the social apartheid that delayed American musical development until we exported black musical sensibilities back to them. So we can portray this as a clash of differing musical ethos as well as terminology. Ironically “soccer” is an English term, developed by Upper Class Boys at Public Schools to differentiate Football codes; Association (FA) “soccer” Rugby, “rugger.” England have a lot of experience at musical football but rarely get it right. They did in 1990; post-punk football for the big match World in Motion;

USA World leading musical industry with a phenomenal range of styles and standard of music, more complete than the UK with sub-genres, like Americana, and events, like SXSW, more complete that some countries entire music scene. Because she is name-checked by Bob Dylan, works with Jay-Z and is classically trained, it has to be Alicia Keys and Empire State of Mind. From the Big Apple melting pot a big tune with a big performance;

Algeria v Slovenia June 12

Algeria; My knowledge of Algerian music is through Rai which originated in Oran and I am a big fan of Cheb Khaled. He was introduced to me by some lads on the Marrakech Express (top speed 35 mph) with a ghetto blast of Didi. But the first Khaled I bought was a tape with Le Camel; 

Slovenia; Lets’ hope that Slavoj Žižek‘s recent book First as Tragedy, Then as Farce doesn’t sum up Slovenia’s second World Cup. The only Slovenian musicians I am aware of are Laibach, part of Neue Slowenische Kunst who re-recorded Let It Be in Slovenian when there was no rock music in Slovenia; or Slovenian. Controversially this is Laibach (Ljubljana in German) with a tune used in Spiderman, Panorama; 

Group D; features perennials Germany, along with Australia, Serbia and Ghana which looks like Germany, even though they have lost captain Michael Ballack, plus one; but which one? Australia had a great World Cup last time before having their pocket-picked by Italy. The White Eagles of Serbia have finished 4th (1930) and are part of the Balkans, whose class football has often been a cross between Italy and Germany, and headed France in qualifying. The thrilling Ghanaians have lost Michael Essien but did well in 2006 until knocked out by the Brazilians. Another exciting group which will be decided at 7.30pm on June 23rd.

Germany probably have the longest tradition of quality music of any contestant because of the classical traditions of their capellmeisters. Their post-war popular music has been distorted by Schlager and Oktoberfests but the Krautrock tradition heroically decided to re-invent modern music without reference to American music and bequeathed us a whole range of computer-driven music, especially by “factory” boys Kraftwerk;   

Australia; have a mixed musical history tradition which ranges from their unique 60,000 year old “songlines” which can be said to define the continent, through Rolf Harris and Sun Arise to Mango Pickle Down River. The biggest-selling rock album of all time is by AC-DC and the biggest selling disco album of all time is by the BeeGees, so Oz does do mega as well as historic.  Whilst it was Yothu Yindi initially made a hit breakthrough with indigenous music  they now have the World Music sensation of 2009 with the Yolngu singer Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu. This is the single Bapa;

Serbia; have a rich and mixed musical tradition like much of the Balkans with gypsy and brass music evolving now that Communism doesn’t restrict it to Song Festivals. That odd Eastern European tradition is now channelled into the Eurovision Song Contest. Serbia is one country looking to its own traditions. Here is one of them, as featured in the film Black Cat White Cat, Goran Bregović with Bubamara;

Ghana; has almost as strong and varied a musical tradition as Nigeria, focussed around Highlife which I first heard when I moved to London in the seventies. It is part of the West African region which arguably gave more music to the world than America. As many Ghanaian expats return to the country in the 21st Century it is developing a vibrant new musical culture as the economy starts to take off. Here is the very modern Richie Rockstone with an award-winning video for best African video 2004 Fa me bone kyE me;

Groups E-H next week


One Response to “World Cup of Music A-D”

  1. Great shop…

    […]World Cup of Music A-D « Radio YouTube[…]…

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