Sep 09

30 plays of “Hurt” never stopped us dreaming

FT/18 comments • 557 views

Clearly the most significant aspect of England’s qualification for next year’s FIFA World Cup is that it allows the nation once again to dream of victory in the Pop World Cup. This tournament, to find the world’s greatest pop nation, will be running on Freaky Trigger (with cross-platform media support! We’ve even set up a @popworldcup Twitter account though don’t expect it to do anything till December.)

If you saw the 2006 Pop World Cup on livejournal, or the EuroPop 2008 feature here, then you know broadly what to expect. Every participant gets to manage a country by choosing MP3s to represent them. Readers vote on which MP3s are the best and offer comments box commentary. The winning countries progress through the tournament to the final. In 2006 the unfancied Czech Republic beat Portugal in a thriller.

The PWC is utterly unaffiliated with the FIFA World Cup. We do, however, use the football world cup to determine which 32 countries will enter the Pop World Cup. So let’s see who’s qualified so far:

England (always in the betting but the current crop of players is weak), Japan (a real threat with the right manager), South Korea (labour in Japan’s shadow somewhat), The Netherlands (never as good as you might think), Brazil (among the favourites, surely), Ghana (this looks pretty tempting), Australia (will be exposed at this level), Spain (dark horses), Paraguay (may struggle)….

…oh, and North Korea. Good luck with that one.

Some of the other big names in global pop – ultimate sleeping giant the USA, disco specialists Italy – look certain to qualify. But others – Nigeria, France, and European colossus Sweden – face a struggle.

We’ll be officially opening registration for Pop World Cup management at the end of the qualifying campaign, so don’t say “I want to play!” yet. But watch this space…


  1. 1
    Pete on 10 Sep 2009 #

    As European Champion I think it almost behoves me to get North Korea. but I look forward to the draw. Though with bands like the Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble I reckon I would waltz into the second round.

  2. 2
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 10 Sep 2009 #

    Mullah Resmat has Axis-of-Evil-esque dibs

  3. 3
    Iain F on 10 Sep 2009 #

    I followed the 06 one but not well enough to remember all the rules so wondering a couple of things:

    1)How much choice do you get in what team you manage?
    2)How current do the songs have to be?

  4. 4
    jel on 10 Sep 2009 #


  5. 5
    Matt DC on 10 Sep 2009 #

    You left out the host nation, Tom!

  6. 6
    Tom on 10 Sep 2009 #

    #5 – doh! Yes, obviously South Africa qualify as host nation and indeed ought to do rather well.

    #3 – in 06 it was entirely random, for Euro 2008 we let people choose: not decided this time – I suspect a combination of the two: perhaps new players get to choose, veterans have to take their chances? And the songs don’t have to be current – that’s part of yr strategy as manager.

  7. 7
    Steve Mannion on 10 Sep 2009 #

    Only being allowed to use one or two songs from more than ten years ago is a compromise rule I’d like to see altho I guess you can leave it to the discretion of the electorate to decide whether fielding classics from certain countries embarrassing riches is fair play, interesting play, really deserving of ticks etc.

  8. 8

    LET THE ELECTORATE JUDGE: gaming the rules and the ref is part of the game

  9. 9
    Tom on 10 Sep 2009 #

    re. choice – I’ve decided now. You can pick random if you’re daring or nominate a cpl of countries you’d like on a first come first served basis. People who say random get priority if more than 32 want to play, though.

  10. 10

    starting now? North Korea and Nigeria…

  11. 11
    Tom on 10 Sep 2009 #

    No no not starting now – we don’t even know who’s qualified (Nigeria are struggling). We’ll have a request-for-players in December.

  12. 12
    Birdseed on 10 Sep 2009 #

    Sounds awesome, I will be in (in december). Pity Bhutan isn’t going to qualify, they’d have kicked ass.

  13. 13
    Martin Skidmore on 11 Sep 2009 #

    I seem to remember playing two no-hoper countries in the last one – one that I was handed in the draw, the other (after elimination) that I took over from a friend. I’ll try again, nonetheless.

  14. 14
    koganbot on 11 Sep 2009 #

    “Urban Girl Goes To Get Married” sounds excellent; but also, listening to it I said to myself, “This is really familiar.” I am certain I never heard this before, having heard zero North Korean songs in my life, and I haven’t heard this exact melody, either. But the end of each chorus and then the brief background singing from the musicians, and the beat (which seems 2/4 to these nondrummer ears), sound like they’ve been plucked from a late ’50s, early ’60s western theme (western as in shoot ’em up cowboys). Um, does that make sense to anybody?

    Also there’s something about this that vaguely reminds me of the Rezillos’ “Flying Saucer Attack,” which this song obviously isn’t, though we do know that the Rezillos had a massive influence on North Korean music.

  15. 15

    It’s why they changed they name to The (Axis of) REVILlos

  16. 16
    Pete on 12 Sep 2009 #

    I got the Western theme thing too, though I put it down to what seemed to be slightly out of tune sync between cheap recording and playback equipment that always reminded me of what happened when the NTSC Bonanza was played on UK PAL equipment. There is something about thee sweeping strings…

  17. 17
    Tom on 11 Oct 2009 #


    Ivory Coast, Germany, Denmark, Serbia and Italy in. Cote D’Ivoire, Germany and Italy should be strong. Serbia could spring a surprise or two. Denmark? A manager committed to unearthing new talent could do well with them.

    Sweden is in serious trouble though.

  18. 18
    Tom on 18 Nov 2009 #

    Final qualification decided tonight which means that TOMORROW (in a separate post) we’ll be opening the Pop World Cup 2010 up to potential players.

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