A Playlist for the Beautiful Game

It started with a tweet on the Sunday before the World Cup. An innocent tweet. A friend, Morgan Pitelka (who I actually know offline), asked me: “@jhnadel what pre-World Cup music do you recommend?” Not sure why, but I read his question as a call to action to create a World Cup playlist. For full disclosure. I’m not a musician. My saxophone career ended at age 14 (though my sax eventually made an appearance in the World Inferno Friendship Society). I’m not a music expert or a music historian. But I love finding new things to listen to. So I started digging in the music of the different countries. Not too deep; 32 songs from 32 countries is a tall ask. But I had some ideas already: either Denmark or Serbia would include music by my close friend (and daughter’s godfather) Rastko Lazic – as a Serb living in Denmark, married to a Dane of Serbian/Montenegrin descent, he kind of qualifies for both.  I knew I would want to have rap from the banlieues (housing projects of France). And ChocQuibTown. Other than that, I started down rabbitholes on Soundcloud and Spotify, going from band to band until I found something that I liked.

The results tend toward my tastes—political, punk(ish), rap(ish), a little off-kilter, and a fair dose of women musicians. I’ve included popular bands too. And successful ones. The Sugarcubes. Abba. Divinyls. Jorge Ben (for Morgan). Patti Kim—perhaps the most famous South Korean singer ever. My hope is that anyone who listens will find something new and go down their own rabbit hole.  And please feel free to make suggestions. Steer my ear to a different rhythm.

A note on format: at first I figured that I would choose one song per country. But I realized quickly how tough that would be. So I’ll add new songs, from different artists, to the countries that advance. For each round, a new song (or two).

So, with thanks to @mpitelka, and to Romeo and Tropics of Meta for offering to host the project.  Hope it doesn’t disappoint.


Music to Watch By

Group A

Russia: Pussy Riot, bit.ly/2yGDg2d

Saudi Arabia: Majedalesa, bit.ly/2iXxzjZ

Egypt: Maryam Saleh, Maurice Louca, and Tamer Abu Ghazleh, bit.ly/2JtQ0yH

Uruguay: Barrio Reo* covering Carlos Gardel  bit.ly/2Jrec4J  


Group B

Iran: Kiosk  bit.ly/1Rhqol4

Morocco: Maalem Mahmoud Gania bit.ly/2FeTx1S

   and Fadoul bit.ly/2Jsa98q

Portugal: Linda Martini bit.ly/2sPLobD

   and Anarchicks bit.ly/2HDdITm

Spain: Elbicho bit.ly/2l2sKsQ

Group C

Australia: Divinvyls bit.ly/2JOrbwC

               and Warumpi Band bit.ly/1D6xQYD

Denmark: Oh Land bit.ly/1alE63z

France: Keny Arkana bit.ly/2MmYLrU

and La Fouine bit.do/emKob (or should this be Egypt?)

Peru: Novalima bit.ly/2JznoE7


Group D

Argentina: Juana Molina bit.ly/2t0vSJh

Croatia: Gustafi bit.ly/2l5Yj5i

Iceland: The Sugarcubes bit.ly/2JPYwri

Nigeria: Tony Allen bit.ly/18MABTj


Group E

Brazil:  Gilberto Gil and Jorge Ben bit.ly/1wzV062

      and franciso, el hombre bit.ly/2dFszl6

Costa Rica: Nativa bit.ly/2l5d34c

Serbia: Darkwood Dub bit.ly/2JMq3K1

and Rastko Lazic bit.ly/2sV5cKT (love to @rastkolazic)

Switzerland: Zeal and Ardor bit.ly/2kw1BPP


Group F

Germany: CRO bit.ly/1lgoC2D

Mexico: Café Tacvba  bit.ly/1S5exYG

Korea: Patti Kim bit.ly/2MmEClW (hugs to @JAGhedini)

               and -[온스테이지] 100. 빈지노 Beenzino bit.ly/1dHpTPW

Sweden: Abba (obligatory) bit.ly/QHOObn and Makthaverskan bit.ly/20Ra377


Group G

Belgium: Stromae bit.ly/1EDn3XV

  and Wyclef Jean* covering Jacques Brel bit.ly/2JCeypr (for @Soccerpolitics)

England: PJ Harvey and Ramy Essam bit.ly/2qW5MFb

Panama: Los Rakas bit.ly/1eMOCwE

  and MecániK InformaL bit.ly/2JIwGtB

Tunisia: Emel Mathlouthi bit.ly/2n67dzj


Group H

Colombia: ChocQuibTown bit.ly/2LOuqkX and Aterciopelados bit.ly/2t8P3ku

Japan: ネクライトーキ bit.ly/2MqB6a2

Poland: Hey bit.ly/2HKk1EB and Hańba! bit.ly/2JLx6Tl

Senegal: Takeifa bit.ly/2sS19iC

* Original sung by musician from country, cover by musician from elsewhere.

**All photos pulled from musicians/bands Facebook profile

Joshua Nadel is an associate professor at North Carolina Central University and is the author of Fútbol! Why Soccer Matters in Latin America and Futbolera: Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Latin American Sports History. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2019. (co-authored with Brenda Elsey).