Apr 10

Pop World Cup 2010: Round of 16 Match 1 – Nigeria 3 France 2

FT/27 comments • 1,199 views

Now the massive popglut of the final group stages is over, we return to a more sedate pace, though the pressure is by no means off the managers. Big beasts are everywhere. There are no easy games at this level, and there are no second chances. This is particularly true given that 50.01% is a winning score from now on (the procedure for precise 50-50 finishes is to be published later).

In our first game of the Round of 16 (swapped into being the first for administrative reasons, sorry for any confusion), we see a mighty clash between to much-fancied competitors: The Lex’s France against Matt DC’s Nigeria.

Fifteen more games. Thirty more songs. The excitement is growing.

This match closes at midnight on Sunday 2nd May

FRANCE: Poni Hoax – “Budapest” The Manager Says: “Dark, desperate death disco: starts ominous, gets paranoid, never loses intensity of either feeling or beats.”

NIGERIA: JJC – “We Are Africans (Naija Remix)” The Manager Says: “While the tournament has already seen many, many great goals, we haven’t yet seen a great team goal – a ten-man passing move (well, nine men and a woman) that ends in the back of the net. So here it comes, courtesy of Nigerian expat producer JJC and a great big rap posse featuring the cream of Nigerian MCing talent. Additionally, his is a historic day for world pop football. Never in the history of the tournament have so many African teams qualified for the knockout stages. So this is as much a match as an occasion for continent-wide celebration, one I’m sure my fellow African managers will join me in. Say it loud. Say it proud. YOU. ARE. AFRICAN.”

Round of 16 Match 1: which track do you prefer?

  • NIGERIA - JJC 56%
  • FRANCE - Poni Hoax 45%

Total Voters: 77

Poll closes: 2 May 2010 @ 23:59

Loading ... Loading ...

Commentary Box Analysis Neither manager is risking a weakened squad in this crucial game, and both are playing to traditional national strengths here: the French deploy simmering, building dance cool, the Nigerians rock the intricate exuberance which has served them well up to now. It feels like a close one from here.

Coming up The next game will be the game which we thought would be our first: the might of South Africa against the pop finesse of Korea Republic.


  1. 1
    Matt DC on 26 Apr 2010 #

    It occurred to me at the weekend that I could legitimately have played Sade up against France here and Lex himself agreed he would have voted for her against his own track. But I couldn’t resist playing this one.

  2. 2
    Martin Skidmore on 26 Apr 2010 #

    A very close thing for me – two excellent tracks. I listened a couple of times each, but the fun of the Nigerian track won out in the end for me.

  3. 3
    weej on 26 Apr 2010 #

    This Poni Hoax track… what can I say? If I was a better writer then maybe I’d be able to think of something more readable and less annoying than “AMAZING! Best thing I’ve heard in months!” Ok, off to listen to it again.
    JJC are good too, but no contest.

  4. 4
    koganbot on 26 Apr 2010 #

    I might vote against Sade on the basis of her being too well known among Anglo-American music fans, no matter how good the track. But then again it depends on how little-known the track is. And some voters might consider the track too Anglo-American. What you can legitimately play and what people will vote for may be a different matter. I voted on principle against Nelly Furtado representing Portugal way back when for being too well-known and too not Portuguese. (But she won her match, so who am I to give anyone advice about strategy?)

    In any event, we can’t claim that the Nigerian manager is ducking the residency or cultural issue with his choice of the JJC squad. But one might wonder what people actually residing in Africa think of this aggregation and their style of play. (But one might also wonder whether anyone residing in Africa has ever voted in the PWC.) Quite enjoyable to this observer, even if history may not be endorse their football cheers and if cultural strife in Nigeria complicates their simplistic goal shooting. Buoyant, putting the ball in the air, though busy bobbing and heading the ball to each other without always advancing matters, and their floaters give the French goalie plenty of time to prepare. Meanwhile, the French striker slices through a seemingly strong Nigerian backline like so much beurre, the defenders not knowing whether to giggle at or be enchanted by her mannered moods. The French midfielders themselves launch effective “Italian” shots against the confused defenders, in an exercise in pan-Europeanism. A vote here for France.

  5. 5
    Alan on 26 Apr 2010 #

    It’s a game of contrasts and no mistake. Joyous fun or stylised moping, but employing tactics familiar to their region. I just can’t call this myself. I want to listen to France more right now, as it takes me back to mid-2000s electropop tournaments, but there’s a lot of lackadaisical, if showy, passing around before a short burst of energy and then the striker just sits down and watches. Nigeria play a fuller game but all up front which could be a tactical error, leaving an almost open goal.

  6. 6
    koganbot on 26 Apr 2010 #

    By the way, when Tom Mallon reviewed “Budapest” for the now-defunct Paper Thin Walls (whose server has since literally melted down, apparently), he described it thus: “What kicks off sounding like an LCD Soundsystem leftover, all four-on-the-floor beats and beep-boop bass, slowly devolves into a rohypnol nightmare, battered on all sides by bloody smears of shrieking strings and shards of guitar. Guest vocalist Olga Kouklaki oozes bored sex appeal as she lazily rides the ‘paranoid express,’ eventually rising to a shriek as the drugs kick in and the city burns.” And a bit further on he offers us this visitors guide: “Equal parts sex and danger, ‘Budapest’ sounds like a great place to get laid… if you don’t mind being stabbed shortly after.”

  7. 7
    Matt DC on 26 Apr 2010 #

    FWIW most if not all the MCs are resident in Nigeria from what I can tell.

  8. 8
    Matt DC on 26 Apr 2010 #



    I’ve just discovered that an as-yet-unused squad member has been killed in a road accident. I’m tempted to offer up his song outside the tournament as a tribute.

  9. 9
    Birdseed on 26 Apr 2010 #

    The French track starts out so promisingly – like a leftover from one of those great “tribute to flexipop” compilations, but the voice gets immensely grating after a while, croaked-out mispronounced city and all, and the sharpness drops out in favour of increasingly silly instrumental tinkering. It starts out great post-disco and ends up bad metal.

    The JJB track I’ve talked about before – I’m fascinated by the interesting contrast between how deeply we condemn a generalised “Africa” as used by certain media and politicians, and the generalised “Africa” used in this and other songs by African musicians! That something is socially constructed, obviously, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

  10. 10
    Pete on 26 Apr 2010 #

    Nigeria all the way, no matter how simplistic or crude the politics are (and I think they are a touch more nuanced) it is just a big fun hug of a record, even if it isn’t hugging me. The French track is too cool for school, nicely dark but what would they say in Citidel De Culture having an English speaking entry, even if what is being said is nonsense. And yet again about another country. I have never seen a French team play with such a lack of national pride!

  11. 11
    lonepilgrim on 26 Apr 2010 #

    Having reached the knockout stage Nigeria appear carried away by the sense of occasion. There’s a lot of posturing and badge-kissing but they risk being undone by a French team who are focused on penetrating the opposition at every occasion. This is a captivating performance from the Gauls – after a shaky start they keep getting better and better.

  12. 12
    thefatgit on 26 Apr 2010 #

    A close, tight match with plenty of acton from both sides. The french call upon their pan-european knowhow to offer us an efficient and disciplined display of gallic “catenaccio” balanced with a surgically precise offensive performance. The nigerians counter with one-touch passing that at first seems to break itself against a gallic brick wall, but second-half, they’re relentless chasing a first-half deficit. They stick to their guns and push deep and are rewarded for their efforts. The icy cool french melt in the glow of Nigeria’s fire. JJC left a massive smile on my face. And that’s enough reason to see them through.

  13. 13
    shedders on 26 Apr 2010 #

    Relentless precision passing and aggression from the French, trying to crush the sap out of Nigeria. A powerful attack but ultimately predictable and built on sand – style over substance.
    Nigeria play the race card to get the crowd behind them. They have enough talent and cheek allied with raw energy to sneak this round.

  14. 14
    mm on 27 Apr 2010 #

    Charming chants from Nigeria, but what’s been said about France is true — the track really opens up from an anonymous beginning. Gets my vote.

  15. 15
    FC Ljubljana but logged out innit on 27 Apr 2010 #

    That stabbing string hook on the French track is so familiar – where have I heard it before?

  16. 16
    Anna_anna on 27 Apr 2010 #

    God this is a tough one, esp. as I expect both the French and Nigerian managers to guilt-trip me in the pub at some point soon. The French team played a game that’s so my style it could have been handmade in an atelier for me (it’s also totally a track that would call people ‘dollink’), but it does lack Nigeria’s call to the hips. Analysing the replays.

  17. 17
    Lex on 27 Apr 2010 #

    @15 you may well have heard it in this exact song when it came out a few years back (or in a remix of it that I was so close to using instead – think I made the right decision but this remix, which I’ll link when the voting closes, would have solved Birdseed’s issues with the track @ 9).

  18. 18
    lockedintheattic on 27 Apr 2010 #

    Awesome play from both teams there – but France just edges it for me because of that element of surprise, i thought i knew exactly where it was going from the first few beats but I was wrong – and delighted to be.

  19. 19
    Tracer Hand on 29 Apr 2010 #

    Best nil-nil draw you’ll ever see.

  20. 20
    Steve Mannion on 1 May 2010 #

    Nigeria keep delighting without surprising and just about take this for me. ‘Budapest’ isn’t representative of the types of French dance I’m most enthusiastic about which tend to be more euphoric/build n’ release but not expecting to hear in this tournament, and tho it’s not a bad track with some nice orchestral touches I like my dark disco a little bit harder and faster.

  21. 21
    Tom on 2 May 2010 #

    Four more hours to vote in this – currently at 76 votes so the next one could – could, I say – be the CLINCHER.

  22. 22
    Tim on 3 May 2010 #

    Congratulations to Nigeria on winning this – and commiserations to France, I think everyone will be sad to see the end of this French side. Still, at least the French manager can begin to speak more freely about other teams in the comments boxes…

  23. 23
    Tom on 3 May 2010 #

    Yes, congratulations to Nigeria – I wonder how decisive the intervention from DJ Mighty Mike’s blog was?

  24. 24
    mm on 4 May 2010 #

    Somewhat surprising result.. the Nigerian track felt a little bit too simple-minded to win against a tough french team.

  25. 25
    Tracer Hand on 4 May 2010 #


    Great match, congratulations to both managers!

  26. 26
    Lex on 4 May 2010 #

    @23 From the minute I heard about that outrageous manipulation of the results I claimed the outright moral victory. MY WIN STANDS and I eagerly anticipate my semi-final match.

  27. 27

    […] tracks with only a vague immediacy in common. Most of the compelling ones, such as JJC’s “We Are Africans,” are either from the continent or inspired by […]

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)


Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page