Jun 08

Europop 2008: The Semi Finals

FT/18 comments • 703 views

A place in the final awaits the winners of each match: Switzerland and Portugal previously drew, and France thumped Italy in their group match, but form counts for nothing now: ONLY THE WILL TO WIN (and a good track). Listen to the tracks, vote in the games, click below the cut for track info, managerial comment etc.

How to vote: just pick the track you prefer in each game. You’ll need to press vote separately on each poll. Polls open until Monday lunchtime.

Switzerland v Portugal: Which track do you prefer?

  • Switzerland: Yves Larock 68%
  • Portugal: Expander and Thinkfreak 32%

Total Voters: 25

Poll closes: 23 Jun 2008 @ 12:26

Loading ... Loading ...

France v Italy: Which track do you prefer?

  • Italy: Jovanotti 52%
  • France: Sofia Essaldi 48%

Total Voters: 27

Poll closes: 23 Jun 2008 @ 12:27

Loading ... Loading ...

SWITZERLAND: Yves Larock – “Zookey”

The manager says: “Switzerland are chuffed to have gotten this far, and hope to trounce tournament favourites Portugal much like their football team did last week. However the bench is looking a bit empty, and this manager refuses to call up Shaggy on the pretext that at least one of Trix and Flix (the Euro 2008 mascots) must be Swiss. (Also the Shaggy track isn’t great). The Swiss charts are dominated by footballing songs, none of which have the class to perform at this level. So we venture to the clubs, where the Swiss are happily blending the sounds of the mountains with house music. Er, if those mountains are in Africa and Jamaica. You have to remember that Switzerland is the home of the United Nations, and suddenly it all makes sense. Zookey is my favourite of their collaborations, and hopefully if you have your transglobal underground head on too it will see us through to the finals!”

Our analyst says: Switzerland have got this far through entertaining high-tempo play and they’re not changing a winning formula. The multiracial composition of this side will gladden the hearts of those who believe music is a universal language. Whether they can do a job on the pitch is another matter.”

PORTUGAL: Expander and Thinkfreak – “Trackum”

The manager says: “Here’s how it was supposed to work: get the Swiss guessing and floundering, at right angles, twisting away from their natural game. Get in their heads, make europop seem an impossibility. Then hit them with the smoothest cut, rock solid r’n’b – win the negative votes, fifty-seven percent, and through.

Then this. It made me dance, the first time I heard it, late at night, standing and moving and clicking, hands in the air. I just remember feeling thrilled – all of the pink and blue of its latent possibilities, furiously coming to life all at once, under and through each other. I’m no good at talking about this sort of thing – I just think it’s the most amazing minimal piece I’ve ever heard.”

Our analyst says: A surprising tactical shift from the Portugese manager, who is using slow-build tactics reminiscent of Germany’s play in this tournament, without a recognised striker. It’s a bold move and certainly his men have the technical ability to pull it off but you wonder if these endless passing triangles will ever lead to an end product.

FRANCE: Sofia Essaidi – “Femme D’Aujourd’hui”

The manager says: “After a run that has left mind, fingers and ears hurting, the last push for glory begins! The young striker is lithe, taut, slightly tempremental, and loves the umbrella formation of football. With a firm grasp of the modern day tactics, and her football history, her training ground performances have impressed. But will they impress you? They better! I’m the bloody favourite! Eek! Vive La France!”

Our analyst says: France continue to impress – here they have a seasoned striker fitting neatly into a more modern formation, but the secret to this tactic’s success is surely those fluting overlapping runs from the full-backs.

ITALY: Jovanotti – “Penso Positivo (Fargetta Remix)”

The manager says: “It has taken every ounce of restraint in Italy not to play this one earlier in the tournament, but it’s finally time to wheel out this almighty clash of two of the biggest names in Italian pop. Jovanotti is an enduringly successful and mostly rubbish singer-songwriter and occasional rapper, Mario Fargetta is an equally durable Italian rave producer who took a turn into hi-NRG chart dance in the mid-90s and was one half of The Tamperer. Here Fargetta takes on one of Jovanotti’s rap efforts and beefs it up with expiring Beach Boys and hyperactive scat samples, enormous synth chords, call and response action and a minute or so of utterly unnecessary double-speed boshing at the end for good measure. HO!”

Our analyst says: Italy have made their mark on this tournament with attacking play and for this game they’re sacrificing caution entirely, hurling men forward, shooting from distance, and looking to outpace and outmuscle the opposition. We’ve seen Switzerland play this kind of game and thrive – we’ve also seen Turkey try it and crash out. Whatever happens, this is two teams giving their all: there will surely be goals.


France 4 Russia 0: Russia were better than this scoreline suggests, getting forward and attacking even when the cause was lost, but they were simply no match for a French side with this kind of form and momentum. France brushed aside the humiliating performances of their footballing side to put Russia to the sword and confirm their status as tournament favourites.

Italy 4 Greece 2 (aet): A brace of goals in the second period of extra-time ended Greece’s challenge and put Italy through: for most of the game these sides were evenly matched, Greek pace and Italian strength battling it out in a thrilling game.

COMING NEXT… The final! Next Thursday, only on Freaky Trigger :)


  1. 1
    Pete on 19 Jun 2008 #

    Switzerland Portugal is a classic example of two tactical managers, spending ages trying to second guess each other, and then going with their gut feeling. Whilst its a battle which will polarise, its a fine battle.

    Italy and France is a much tighter battle. I like Frances supple r’n’b licks, but the voice doesn’t quite do it for me. Italy has a chirpy confidence and Eat My Goal written all over it. But I predict this one might go into extra time. And maybe even penalties!

  2. 2
    Alyson Tamara Guard on 19 Jun 2008 #

    I actually started off this under-estimating the competition and approaching it as a laugh, but now I really want to win! So I picked the song with my favourite outro of 2008! VLF!

    Incidentally, for completists, from the comedy musical (I think?) Cleopatra – here is the lovely clip for Femme D’Aujourd’hui! “Woman of today” in the less romantic English!


  3. 3
    Kat but logged out innit on 19 Jun 2008 #

    The Turkish management absolutely approves of the ridiculous Italian tactics.

  4. 4
    koganbot on 19 Jun 2008 #

    Holey moley, Switzerland vs. Portugal.

    Switzerland: This is grand, the bass bearing down like the hardest American r&b, while steel drums from Fort de France are going all zoukey and covering everything in tinsel and candy. This is delicious, this is a slammer. Excellent confabulation of elements, even if the manager can’t tell the difference between the United Nations and the League Of Nations.

    Portugal: Meanwhile, beats that have been hardened and made rich in volcanic depths claw their way to the surface, bats hum under their breath, stalagmites and stalactites compete for space, and cave walls perspire. Damn.

    I really don’t know how to vote.

  5. 5
    koganbot on 19 Jun 2008 #

    France: Evocatively twisty little Arabic instrument evokes strange melancholy in an otherwise gentle* pop song. Subtle, nice.

    Italy: Meanwhile, the Italians put on their party hats and dancing boots. Singer rides the line between song and rap, while backup boys drive tough-guy jeeps and girls stand on the back seats tossing flowers to the crowd and waving. This is a pisser.

    I’m leaning France owing to the evocativeness, but Italians in the final wouldn’t be any kind of injustice, and I’ll listen some more.

    Switzerland vs. Portugal is one of the matches of the tournament, up there with Poland-Portugal and Austria-Croatia. My hats off to the Swiss manager, playing the big boys to a standstill. Not yet able to say how I’ll vote in that one.

    *Of course, since I don’t speak French, for all I know the lyrics are about biting goats’ heads off.

  6. 6
    koganbot on 19 Jun 2008 #

    The young striker is lithe, taut, slightly tempremental, and loves the umbrella formation of football.

    Ah yes, the umbrella formation: I knew there was something specific that was grabbing me. I see that someone on YouTube is making the case for plagiarism. (If I were a jury I’d let this go, arguing that it’s just part of the pop process.)

  7. 7
    Matt DC on 19 Jun 2008 #

    Switzerland kick off, run the length of the pitch and immediately score. It’s the Lift Your Leg Up song! I know this! I’ve *danced* to this. No idea where and when, and it will bug me for ages now. There’s nothing wrong with Portugal’s slow build trancey minimal at all, but it can’t cope with the rush of gleeful ‘so THAT’S what it is!’ recognition at all.

  8. 8
    Matt DC on 19 Jun 2008 #

    Also, the France track really IS Umbrella, isn’t it? Needs MC Solaar or someone ruining the first minute though.

  9. 9
    Michael on 20 Jun 2008 #

    I think it’s like Umbrella the way Miley Cyrus’s song sounds like “Sunglasses at Night” – as in, I still really like it in spite of the obvious comparison. I’ve voted for France and Switzerland, the clash of the titans in the finale.

  10. 10
    jeff w on 20 Jun 2008 #

    It’s the Lift Your Leg Up song! I know this! I’ve *danced* to this. No idea where and when
    Me too! Me neither! Don’t recognise the ersatz steel drums though (could this be a remix? or a cover? or has someone else covered it?) – and not sure I’m convinced by the backing in the light of day.

    This is amazing. And scary! Until the microhouse beat finally kicks in around the 7’00” mark, it could have been some industrial electronica group from the late 80s.

  11. 11
    jeff w on 20 Jun 2008 #

    FR v IT seemed at first blush more one-sided, but the strengths of the French track do gradually emerge with repeat plays. Certainly the “comédie/spectacle musical(e) de Kamel Ouali, Cléopatre” looks like it might be a hoot based on that video.

    The Italian track is endearingly silly, enjoyed it a lot on the first play… but its more annoying features are amplified with repetition.

    I’m going to have to toss a coin, I fear.

  12. 12
    koganbot on 20 Jun 2008 #

    Finally voted for Portugal, but it was tough having to slight the Swiss entry. Now I’m torn between France and Italy. The French gal’s inferiority to – say – Rihanna is a drawback, but that twisty Arab riff all through continues to touch me, as does that well-known melody. But the Italian track is growing on me, funny but not at the expense of force.

  13. 13
    Alyson Tamara Guard on 21 Jun 2008 #

    Eek! This is tense! For all I know I could be losing 14-1 (I obv voted for me!). I found out today the english translation of the last verse!

    Walk after step
    It is necessary to hold the ramp
    They must give example
    Take up steps
    For steps go down much lower
    They do not have other choice

    That’s BRILLIANT! That’s the best insight since Hilary Duffs “if the light is off then it isn’t on” – or was it a reference to STEPS the band? Who knows! Come on Sofia, get me the win!

  14. 14
    Matt DC on 21 Jun 2008 #

    I can’t say for sure, but I *think* the place I heard the Swiss track is on a YouTube video montage of Didier Drogba/other African footballers doing cool dances by the corner flag. If so, how appropriate.

  15. 15
    koganbot on 21 Jun 2008 #

    Take up steps
    For steps go down much lower
    They do not have other choice

    Clearly the Swiss advice to lift your leg up can come into play here, as well as the Austrian entreaty in the group round to raise your foot. One does not really have other choice.

    So I voted for the French, though in my mind this match could come to the tiebreaker at the end. Excellent call-and-response excitement from the Italians. Italy has been in a couple of real barn burners, hasn’t it? This, and the match with Rumania.

  16. 16
    Tom on 23 Jun 2008 #

    You have a couple of hours left to vote in these!

  17. 17
    Matt DC on 23 Jun 2008 #

    I think I’ve actually danced to the Portugal track as well, once. It’s certainly very familiar, like something James Holden would play, just on the verge of when he starts to go wibbly midway through a set.

  18. 18
    admin on 23 Jun 2008 #

    Even the FT server got over-heated in anticipation over this!

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