Feb 10

Pop World Cup 2010: Group A – South Africa 2 Mexico 1

FT//25 comments • 1,379 views

Hello, and welcome to the Pop World Cup 2010! 64 matches showcasing pop – in its very broadest sense – from 32 nations. There can be only one winner, and that is YOU, the pop fan.

If you want a brief explanation as to what the PWC is go here. Kicking the competition off we have hosts South Africa, managed by Isabel Ewing vs Mexico, managed by Tom Schaller. Two managers new at this level, so the pressure is on right from the start.

How to join in: If you can read this and hear the tracks posted you’re eligible to vote – just tick which one you prefer in the poll. You can leave comments below too. If a track gets 58% or more of the vote, it wins and the team takes 3 points – otherwise, the match is drawn and each team gets 1 point. We’ll be launching a mini-site with voting instructions, results tables, and more very soon.

And without further ado, onwards! With the festival of football (and pop)!

SOUTH AFRICA: Pitch Black Afro – “Pidipidi” The manager says: “An inspirational track influenced by Timbaland. We will play Missy Elliot style! Mexico beware!”

MEXICO: Cafe Tacuba – “La Ingrata” The manager says: “The genre-spanning Café Tacuba’s take on Mexican Norteño music. Lots of accordion, with the singer’s already very nasal stylings ratcheted up to near obnoxious in order to put across his real scorn for the subject of the song: his ex-lover – La Ingrata, the ungrateful one.”

Group A Match 1: Which track did you like better?

  • South Africa: Pitch Black Afro 60%
  • Mexico: Cafe Tacuba 40%

Total Voters: 68

Poll closes: 14 Feb 2010 @ 23:59

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This match will end at midnight (UK time) on Sunday.

Commentary Box Analysis: “South Africa are playing with a lot of pride out there – a classic formation, it’s taken the USA a long way in the past this kind of tactic, and the front man has quality to spare. But you have to wonder about the calibre of players they might bring off the bench if he starts to tire. Mexico on the other hand are a busy side, very high workrate and that energy’s going to be their best asset I’m sure. They have to make sure they don’t wind up the crowd though – obnoxious is all very well but not if it gets you booked.”

Coming Up!: The other Group A game, Uruguay vs France, will be up tonight, then on Thursday South Korea take on Greece and there’s a mouthwatering pop clash between Argentina and Nigeria.


  1. 1
    Tom on 9 Feb 2010 #

    I’m trying to sort out a few formatting issues so the GRAND LAUNCH of this will be tomorrow! Hopefully these aren’t the formatting issues where “you have to vote again” though.

  2. 2
    Birdseed on 9 Feb 2010 #

    Strong opener! Despite the superficial differences there’s a strong shared quirky energy in both sides making for an entertaining game. South Africa, for me, is just edging this one though I can’t help but feel there should be stronger material available to the team for future clashes.

  3. 3
    Pete on 10 Feb 2010 #

    This is South Africa all the way for me. I think the Mexican track is a bit disappointingly stereotypical. Not surprised to hear hip-hop from the South Africans, but I am interested in how relatively lo-key it is. But I think they corrected predicted a hi-tempo piece of work from the Mexicans and counter-programmed appropriately.

  4. 4
    tonya on 10 Feb 2010 #

    In the regular World Cup I support countries in North America and countries where they speak English, so that doesn’t help me pick here. I love Mexican music but that vocal cannot be borne, so the home country gets a shot to move on.

    I’m still heartbroken that I missed the call for managers by one person.

  5. 5
    Jonathan Bogart on 10 Feb 2010 #

    I’m going to have to give this to South Africa as well — and Café Tacuba is my favorite Rock en Español band! But I’ve always disliked “La Ingrata” — at least the bits sung by Ribaac, he of the nasal growl — and they have so much more so much better music that it’s a bit like repping Radiohead by “Creep.”

    But the horn fanfare on the “Pidipidi” chorus is what clinched it: this sounds like World Cup stuff whether or no.

  6. 6
    mm on 10 Feb 2010 #

    I have to say this one is a runaway victory for South Africa. Fresher, more novel.

    South Korea tomorrow has to be one of the big favorites.. I hope the manager is invested enough in the team to pull it off.

  7. 7
    Kat but logged out innit on 10 Feb 2010 #

    Hurray off to a good start, chaps!

  8. 8
    jeff w on 10 Feb 2010 #

    Hurrah, I am able to download the tracks to my phone – which is the only way I’m going to be able to hear them thanks to stupid werk restrictions on doing anything fun or that needs flash.

    A request: can you add an extra line in the post for each match stating how many MB each file is please?

    Now I just need to find a way to vote. :/

    On topic: I agree these are two good tracks. Am leaning towards the hosts at the moment but will play both again, for sure.

  9. 9
    Matt DC on 10 Feb 2010 #

    The jury’s currently out here as well. The pre-match hype had made me think the Mexicans would be playing it hard, dirty and snarling in the tackle but they have a lot of positivity and flair there as well, and show they can switch things up when need be.

    South Africa by contrast play it straight and direct, they can clearly run and run and run but I’m not sure the killer final ball is quite there. When their game gets predictable they can make changes in the second half, but I’m not sure these are entirely successful. Still, they may be 2-0 up by then, who knows.

  10. 10
    Adrian on 10 Feb 2010 #

    I’m going for Mexico in this bout for sheer jauntiness.

    This keeps the festive opening ceremony* spirit alive. (*Where was the opening ceremony? Pyrotechnics and synchronised dancers with ribbons are called for!)

  11. 11
    koganbot on 10 Feb 2010 #

    South Africans go for nonstop footplay with relentless force in the middle. Mexico counters with misdirection and fakery. The problem for the Mexicans is that, while entertaining themselves vastly, they can’t seem to get the foot on the ball. Matt’s right about SA not really having a striker, but they don’t need one since they’re playing around the opponent’s goal so much that the ball keeps going in, almost of its own accord.

    (At the time of “La Ingrata” I was into Caifanes and Fobia while considering Cafe Tacuba cold and I haven’t really kept up, though obnoxious guy here does bring heat with his nasality, so perhaps I would like Tacuba more than I had if I were to revisit them. They ran up against a strong South African effort.)

  12. 12
    lex on 10 Feb 2010 #

    The RSA track is a banger. If I’m moved to download a track, that’s a winner right there. Not perfect – a touch too long, and when did it come out? If an American act had come out with that recently it’d come off as wannabe-dated-Timbalandisms. But in this context that’s not a factor and it’s at least a solid 7/10.

    MEX dude’s voice actually not as horrible as I was fearing from the comments, but still pretty bad, especially when he starts whining. Emo vocals over what sounds like the kind of stuff Mexicans would play for tourists = no thank you, 3/10.

  13. 13
    Tom on 10 Feb 2010 #

    RSA is 2004, according to this Kelefa Sanneh piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/07/arts/critic-s-notebook-a-son-of-soweto-ignites-rap.html?pagewanted=1

  14. 14
    Gus on 10 Feb 2010 #

    Both good tracks. If you have a little background with Mexican music you can pick up on the pastiche elements of the Café Tacuba track. It’s quite exagerated in its style, and its vocals are quite funny in parts. Perhaps not the best choice from the band for this competition though. Playing to the folks back home, but not necessarily getting the job done on the pitch. I personally prefer it to the South African track, but I think a draw would be a fair result in this one.

  15. 15
    Garry on 10 Feb 2010 #

    Mexico seem to be playing to their traditional strengths with a hint of winking pisstake, while SA have been importing formations from abroad. I’m hoping for a draw, as neither seem to do justice to their country.

  16. 16
    Tom on 11 Feb 2010 #

    Hopefully the positive reaction to the South Africa performance will silence the press campaign for the manager to play Die Antwoord.

  17. 17
    Matt DC on 11 Feb 2010 #

    Crowd sizes are a lot bigger in this tournament than in the Euros – both ties already have 40+ votes.

  18. 18
    Steve Mannion on 11 Feb 2010 #

    Have to hand it to the hosts here. A bright and sturdy start, encouraging for their tournament prospects. Mexico have potential but perhaps they’re relying on a style of play not to my tastes, or just unsuccessful in attempting a fluid pass n’ move game, then bickering with the ref too much. I find them too annoying and charmless on this occasion but I feel they can improve.

  19. 19
    Tom on 15 Feb 2010 #

    Closed the poll on this but it’s not displaying, hmm.

  20. 20
    admin on 15 Feb 2010 #

    looks ok here. 60-40 win for SA

  21. 21
    Tom on 15 Feb 2010 #

    Yes, of course it appeared the second I posted the comment. The timed close function isn’t working tho – was meant to end at 11.59 last night.

  22. 22
    admin on 15 Feb 2010 #

    i’ll try to update the plugin – it’s way behind because it’s one that i have hacked to allow us to do these ‘blind ballot’ style polls. that might fix it – but the developer is no longer updating his plugins (big news in the WP world that)

  23. 23
    Tom on 15 Feb 2010 #

    Don’t worry, happy to close the polls manually!

  24. 24
    Tom Schaller on 15 Feb 2010 #

    Congratulations to my worthy opponents. I expected to get walloped the way the crowd seemed to turn against us, so a narrow defeat is something I’m happy enough to swallow and learn from.

  25. 25
    Steve Mannion on 15 Feb 2010 #

    Terrific attendance for this opening match and the France game, really hope this continues all the way to the final.

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