Feb 10

Pop World Cup 2010: Group C – England 0 USA 2

FT//47 comments • 1,368 views

The biggest match of the first round of group games? Two pop behemoths face off – England managed by Bec, USA by Europop 2008 victor Pete Baran. (So that’s England managed by an American and the US managed by a Brit, yes.) A pulsating pop derby as an old rivalry is renewed – or will the pressure of expectations put a damper on play? Let’s find out!

As ever, anyone can vote. This match will end at midnight on Sunday 21st February.

ENGLAND: Joe Cocker – “Change In Louise” (4Mb) The manager says: “‘Joe Cocker throws his wild blues passion into an aching, fierce chorus. As he’s supported by a glorious squad of backup singers, he’s confident he’ll ride by. The fun and funky Hammond organ encourage the fans to sing along!”

USA: Yeasayer – “O.N.E.” (12Mb) The manager says: “The USA has a proud pop heritage, and I am pleased to be able to manage this team heading into the Pop World Cup 2010. After my success with the undisciplined but committed Swiss, I am excited to be in charge of a team with almost the opposite problem. Overdogs with an almost limitless pop of music to pick from, I know that the Pop World Cup voters will be against us from the start – though I would be the first to admit that England will have a similar problem. That said I have decided to limit my picks to new releases, nothing from that illustrious history, and nothing that I think will be a massive hit. And mumbly bumbly Yeasayer fit into that category perfectly. Can a band get more American than this inward gazing artpop trio with visions of a global worldpop that sound nothing like any real worldpop? Don’t know, don’t care, I just know that this is an infectious slice of something that sounds NEW to play against an England who i reckon will be relying on old glories.”

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

  • USA: Yeasayer 68%
  • England: Joe Cocker 32%

Total Voters: 74

Poll closes: 21 Feb 2010 @ 23:59

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Commentary Box Analysis: “Blood and thunder play from England: you can’t fault them for guts and commitment but the game has moved on since the 60s and I wonder if effort will be enough. As for the Americans, hours of beach football and hacky-sack have given their play some real fluidity, but flicks and tricks won’t get the ball into the net on their own.”

Coming Up! Our other Group C match tomorrow pits Algeria v Slovenia in an educational contest for the neutral. Then on Thursday we’re into Group D and Germany v Australia, another big, big game.

RESULTS: South Africa 2 Mexico 1 (41 votes to 27) – South Africa held on to win despite constant second half pressure from a spirited Mexican side. “There’s a strong shared quirky energy in both sides making for an entertaining game.” “A bright and sturdy start [for SA], encouraging for their tournament prospects” “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.” “The horn fanfare on the “Pidipidi” chorus is what clinched it: this sounds like World Cup stuff whether or no.”


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  1. 1
    admin on 15 Feb 2010 #

    btw – is the download size popup useful enough, or is that not ‘discoverable’ and it should it be more visible?

  2. 2
    Tom on 15 Feb 2010 #

    I didn’t know there was one! Bcz obviously I haven’t been downloading the tracks from here since I have ’em anyway :)

  3. 3
    admin on 15 Feb 2010 #

    it’s there if you hover over the download button

  4. 4
    Birdseed on 15 Feb 2010 #

    I’m sorry, but to have the strongest leagues in the world, with a ridiculous array of competitive players available, spit out such vapid teams is disappointing. Despite superficial differences both teams do nothing, try nothing, pass around the ball in their own half and seem content with a 0-0 draw… If this wasn’t the first game of the group I’d wager it was fixed. With this level of commitment, though, neither side really deserves to go through to the next round.

  5. 5
    Tom on 15 Feb 2010 #

    What strikes me about this match is that both sides are harking back to their world cup glory days – England as winners with a recorded two years after 1966, the USA as hosts with a modern track which nonetheless has a kind of 1994 Spin Doctors-y vibe to it.

    I think the Yeasayer album sucks but this is probably the best thing on it – it does wibble on a bit though and there’s a lot of fanny dangle. Joe Cocker’s “With A Little Help” I don’t like at all but this is fine for what it is (i.e. a genre I don’t actually enjoy much).

    I can’t imagine this was the game neutrals were expecting or hoping for, but I enjoy both these tracks more than I thought I would and I think we’ve got quite adventurous approaches here in the context of this competition.

  6. 6
    Pete on 15 Feb 2010 #

    SPIN DOCTORS? Hmm, if I didn’t know better I would have thought someone was being a Spin Doctor themselves.

    The hardest thing about playing these big teams is what to punt out, but playing something new seemed the only way to go, else raiding pop history would seem even more unfair. I, unlike Tom, really like the new Yeasayer album though this is the poppest thing on it I think it is a perfect Pop World Cup track, with so much thrown into it. But it isn’t the tactic I was going to use, I just got a bit worried the the Gucci Mane track might get too much of a backlash. Lets say I am feeling out the crowd (though I may have played this differently if I had seem the South Africa result first).

  7. 7
    Tom on 15 Feb 2010 #

    The album as a whole is more Red Box I grant you.

  8. 8
    Pete on 15 Feb 2010 #

    That’s more like it! For America!

  9. 9
    Martin Skidmore on 15 Feb 2010 #

    I didn’t care for either track, to be honest. Perhaps my unfancied Algerian minnows stand a chance after all…

  10. 10
    jeff w on 15 Feb 2010 #

    Download size pop up useful for me. May not work from my phone, but I can see it from this PC which is enough. Thanks for introducing this.

  11. 11
    Pete on 15 Feb 2010 #

    Unfancied Algerians? I have got to say that in this group I think England and the US are the minnows. Algeria are one of the strongest African teams.

  12. 12
    Steve Mannion on 15 Feb 2010 #

    The English game is routinely criticised by fans for having lost its edge. With the real excitement and creativity to be found in our lower leagues, including the Blue Square Funky Conference, the Poundstretcher Purple League and the Minerva Spartan Darkwave Division I can understand the manager opting for seasoned, established veterans in a bid for more widespread appeal. But I’m hoping we’ll see three distinct ages of English pop for the three group games.

  13. 13
    Matt DC on 15 Feb 2010 #

    That noise you hear after both tracks is the sound of millions of pounds of sponsorship money pissing up a wall. Given the shockwaves that resounded throughout the world of pop when these two undisputed giants of the game were drawn against one another, it’s possible the match itself could never have lived up to all the hype. But both teams should be doing a lot better than this.

    The USA were, in my opinion, the pre-tournament favourites by some margin. Virtually unparalleled squad depth and a Europop 2008-winning manager at the helm. One possible chink in the armour is that the manager has done his best work on limited resources, it remains to be seen how he’ll handle the competing egos and big-time Charlies of the American game. This team selection may have sidestepped the issue by going for the indie underdog – there’s certainly some fantastic interplay and deft touches in midfield but the frontman is useless.

    Typically enough for England, the “this could be our year” optimism seems to have evaporated the second the players arrived on the pitch. This is a very lacklustre match. That said, I think the Americans are good for the three points against an awful, lethargic England performance.

  14. 14
    ChrisB on 15 Feb 2010 #

    I was really hoping for something epic in this match because the possibilities were endless (“Toxic” vs. “Song 2”, “Sexy/Back” vs. “Smile”, etc…). Instead, it looks like both teams are holding their best players out, confident they’ll coast into round 2 on reputation alone. I do like the American strategy of emphasizing youth, so that’s how I’m voting (and my own biases for rooting for my home country).

    I’m not usually one to second guess another manager, but if England even went with The Beatles, it would have at least shown up Uruguay and forced people to double and triple-think a vote for Yeasayer. Instead, England sounds tired out of the gate (I’m not even convinced this is Joe Cocker’s best effort). I really don’t understand this strategy but team practices must be really intense and I guess we’ll see if it plays out later in the tournament.

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    Tom on 15 Feb 2010 #

    The defeat of “Rasputin” at the previous pop world cup caused a bit of a tactical shockwave, and I suspect people are staying away from very well known tracks (wisely, IMO).

    Though maybe there was a tabloid “COCKER FOR ENGLAND” campaign and the manager got the wrong one.

  16. 16
    koganbot on 15 Feb 2010 #

    The English wear their passion like weights on their legs, which creates power when they connect, but getting there’s a problem. Meanwhile, those wacky Americans become – what? – conceptualists? The idea of a boyband Afropop amalgam is interesting but you have to then produce a boyband Afropop amalgam rather than just the idea of a boyband Afropop amalgam.

    I respect these choices, since I’m going to vote against anything high profile or familiar from England or the U.S. no matter how good; the whole spirit of these games would propel a manager of such countries to opt for oddities, one shots, and newcomers. If I were picking for the U.S. I might choose only songs in Spanish, or nothing but freestyle, or tracks without emphatic drumbeats, or use some other apparently leveling strategy that would actually show off my country’s dominance. As for what’s given us here, this is better Cocker than the Cocker I know, but it’s still Cocker and he helped change soul from excitement to falling bricks. And, while indie recessiveness may well produce some pale genius formalist someday, “O.N.E.” has trouble getting beyond “interesting.” Interesting beats ton of bricks, however, so I vote United States.

  17. 17
    koganbot on 15 Feb 2010 #

    #15 I voted against Nelly Furtado representing Portugal for the same reason, but not enough people joined me.

    #14 The only Beatles track I’d consider voting for is “Revolution No. 9,” except I don’t like it so I wouldn’t vote for it.

  18. 18
    thefatgit on 15 Feb 2010 #

    Two flawed strategies.
    England: Leave the hairdryer in the changing room.

    USA: You win nothing with kids.

  19. 19
    Steve Mannion on 15 Feb 2010 #

    You (may well) do in the Pop World Cup!

  20. 20
    ChrisB on 15 Feb 2010 #

    I didn’t (necessarily) mean that teams should have gone for big, ubiquitious hits, but pitting a 65-year old man against a buzz-band of the moment seems like an odd match for the highest profile match of the first round.

    Now I can’t wait to see what the Germans will come at me with later in the week!

  21. 21
    Matt DC on 15 Feb 2010 #

    The USA fielded ACTUAL kids in the last Pop World Cup and failed to get out of the group stage as a result.

  22. 22
    Pete on 15 Feb 2010 #

    We can talk tactics all we like, and I spent about a month worrying about how this game would come off, and then went with my gut at the last minute. On paper this is very high profile, but as Matt says above, the joy of the PWC is hearing stuff you haven’t heard from countries you have never been to Neither US or England can do this. I saw a lot of managers in the Euro’s over-thinking their choices. But if there was ever a group of death, this is it.

  23. 23
    ChrisB on 15 Feb 2010 #

    You’re right, Pete, and as a manager of another big, western democracy with a lot of options to choose from, I definitely feel the pressure too.

    The Yeasayer song is growing on me, too. I think it’s a solid selection and I can’t wait to see what you come up with in the later matches!

  24. 24
    Bec on 15 Feb 2010 #


    I chose partly out of panic (aaargh how DARE I of all people be in charge of England) but mostly because I just really like the song and fancied people giving it a listen.

  25. 25
    lonepilgrim on 15 Feb 2010 #

    very disappointed with the England track – trading on the past, but not it’s glories. The USA at least has some novelty value

  26. 26
    Tom on 15 Feb 2010 #

    Well, it’s better than any other Joe Cocker I’ve heard Bec!

  27. 27
    Steve Mannion on 15 Feb 2010 #

    I’m not keen on the USA’s lone striker upfront. Like last year’s Glo-Fi Cup finalists Neon Indian the dreary tone can be hard to handle and tends to sneak goals in from just a couple of yards out somewhat unsatisfyingly. But also like them there’s a reliable stopper and strong holding midfielder who knows how to keep the ball and get it forward. I do prefer what’s going on at the back and tho they won’t be tested or troubled much by England this time their willingness to adapt to if not define the modern game should see the colossus thru.

  28. 28
    Tom on 15 Feb 2010 #

    I don’t think a laughable regional competition like the Glo-Fi Cup bears comparison with the pop world’s showcase event!

  29. 29
    Steve Mannion on 15 Feb 2010 #

    you and your ‘Big 4’ attitude!

  30. 30
    lex on 15 Feb 2010 #


    OMG. These are the two teams I DREAMED of managing, I had ENTIRE SQUADS AND BACK-UP SQUADS of contenders raring to go for both, and the lucky sods who got them piss all the talent up the wall like this? KMT. KMT. KM fucking T.

    Tempted to sit this out and ask for a refund in protest but the USA track is really spectacularly annoying rather than just stodgy, plus I have extra resentment because I had been hoping to avoid listening to Yeasayer for as long as possible. I AM A NAYSAYER. ENG, you got lucky, very lucky.

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