Apr 10

Pop World Cup 2010: Round of 16 Match 2 – South Africa 1 Korea Republic 3

FT/31 comments • 1,218 views

Isabel’s South Africa team stormed through Group A, only dropping points once they’d qualified, and even then to the pop might of France. Chris R steered Korea Republic, to second place in Group B despite being early favourites. It’s often said that when teams start strongly they run out of steam, while teams who build their form through the tournament are at their best in the later stages.Who’ll grab the momentum with a quarter-final place on offer?

This match closes at midnight on Monday 3rd May

SOUTH AFRICA: DJ Cleo – “Wene Ng’hamba nawe The Manager Says: “Expect to see a fast-paced, consistent team full of energy and power. Keep your beers within reach for the whole game: you won’t want to miss a second.”

KOREA REPUBLIC: Girls’ Generation – “Gee” The Manager Says: “South Africa’s near-perfect record speaks for itself; they’d be up there with Ghana if they hadn’t been held to a draw by shrewd/plucky France. So I’m throwing in a star who was waiting on the bench: “Gee” is apparently one of the biggest Korean singles ever, and you can see why. Girls’ Generation (aka SNSD) have mastered the K-pop technique of incongruous, chopped-up, random-sounding English choruses.”

Round of 16 Match 2: which track do you prefer?

  • KOREA REPUBLIC - Girls' Generation 61%
  • SOUTH AFRICA - DJ Cleo 39%

Total Voters: 72

Poll closes: 3 May 2010 @ 23:58

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Commentary Box Analysis South Africa find their rhythm early and knock the ball about impressively without having many obvious strikers, looking for goals from all over the pitch. Korea come out of the traps looking almost unhealthily lively and are darting everywhere, with shape, hooks and precision. Then the South African manager, out of the blue, brings on an entire front line who storm around massively. The commentary box is up and dancing but we haven’t the faintest idea who’ll win.

Coming up On Thursday, the Round of 16 gives us another high-profile match-up as the USA meet Germany.


  1. 1
    Tom on 27 Apr 2010 #

    This track was also a massive single locally, incidentally – it’s from 2008, and is the first dip of the SA managerial toe into the amazingly fertile house scene over there. And the last dip? Our fate is in the hands of the fans!

  2. 2
    lonepilgrim on 27 Apr 2010 #

    Korea start brightly but lack invention in front of the net. SA have pace and a rhythmic flow to their movement on the ball. There are no stars here – it’s a team effort – and I expect them to win.

  3. 3
    Birdseed on 27 Apr 2010 #

    Wow, we’ve really got a clash of the titans here! It would be tempting to see SA punished for fielding a side that claims to play according to contemporary house while still retaining so many kwaito set-pieces, but at the same time it’s a fantastically active and energetic squad fronted by a modern legend. Meanwhile, South Korea do just about everything right – play in accordance with their perceived qualities, taking them to the max, really understanding the tactical ground they’re working from – but this eternal South Africa fan can’t help rooting for their opponents anyway. Sorry.

  4. 4
    mm on 27 Apr 2010 #

    I never made a “best of 00s” list, but each time I’ve listened to “Gee” (since January 2009, or a few months later when it really got to me) I think “#1”. You know the kind of ecstasy you build up for a favorite, “this must be the best ever!”.

    How deftly is the language used in this song? ‘Neomu neomu MEOTJyeo, nooni nooni BOOSHuh, soomeul moht shiGETTtsuh — DDULLeeneun gul’. It’s so rhythmical, and the consonants so chewy (no better word), you feel like you’re skiing moguls in a slope of marshmallows.

    The lyrics are all ecstasy, as well, love as a real drug, immediate shutdown of all systems. “My eyes are blind, I can’t breathe, gee gee gee gee…I’m shocked, I’m trembling, I can’t sleep, gee gee gee gee!”. — Win or lose , I’m satisfied with the cup now, having seen this level of play.

  5. 5
    Martin Skidmore on 27 Apr 2010 #

    I liked the SA number, but it stayed a bit medium-paced for me, whereas the Korean track is a total delight, and that just edges it for me.

  6. 6
    Matt DC on 27 Apr 2010 #

    South Africa for me, no contest. Plenty of exuberance upfront and a back line and midfield of a GRINDING MACHINE. It just pressed all my buttons and made me want to check out as much SA house as possible, whereas I would be happy never to hear any more of this kind of hyper-compressed cutesy far eastern girlpop ever again. South Korea have made it this far on a combination of direct pace and cute flicks but I doubt they have the muscle to make it much further.

  7. 7
    FC Ljubljana but logged out innit on 27 Apr 2010 #

    The Korean track is amazing!

  8. 8
    Pete on 27 Apr 2010 #

    Yes, its Korea for me, K-Pop at its absolute finest. The South African track is very good, though it doesn’t prgress as much as I would like it to, but really the Korean track is all kinds of awesome.

  9. 9
    Job on 27 Apr 2010 #

    If it had been “Run Devil Run”, I would have voted Korea. The SA squad really finds its form in the second half, when there’s no stopping them anymore.

  10. 10
    Tom on 27 Apr 2010 #

    #6 – and anyone else interested in SA house – there is some significantly banging material on the Ayobaness! compilation, coming out from Out There next month. I would have been very tempted to use something from it in this game, except i. I couldn’t find the CD to play it to the gaffer, and ii. it’s a promo and might have been a little cheeky.

  11. 11
    thefatgit on 27 Apr 2010 #

    Hard choice! But for me the K-Poppers run rings around SA with that earwormy chorus. I’m gonna be whistling that for days!

  12. 12
    shedders on 28 Apr 2010 #

    Korea, just. Like a hi-energy Lazytown tune you make up in a dream.
    DJ Cleo does a nice job channeling Kraftwerk though.

  13. 13
    Lex on 29 Apr 2010 #

    Easy win for RSA – KOR is charming, but RSA is totally in line with a lot of stuff I’m listening to right now and just sounds so fresh and irresistible. (That Ayobaness! comp that Tom mentions is amazing BTW – have been refraining from enthusing about it for fear that I’d find myself having to compete against it in the group stages!)

    I’ll be interested to see how a mostly-instrumental house track does; it’s a direction I’ve definitely wanted to head in, but I’ve detected some suspicion among the pundits to instrumental dance…

  14. 14
    Matt DC on 29 Apr 2010 #

    Slovenia did alright with a straight house instrumental. I feel whether its a good move probably depends on the quality of vocal talent in your country – France certainly has a wealth of that so an instrumental may feel like a waste.

  15. 15
    Steve Mannion on 29 Apr 2010 #

    Something odd about the URL for this one and not sure why/how to fix.

  16. 16
    admin on 29 Apr 2010 #

    fixed the odd unprintable character at the front of the title.

  17. 17
    mm on 30 Apr 2010 #

    The ‘Gee’ beat shares a few similarites with Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”, including the deep synth stab, and at times it does match that song’s intensity. In performances they’ve been known to vary it up a little, like in this one, where a “jazz” version is done with one of the group’s piano virtuosos accompanying, and a rock version which is actually quite rock-y. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZai6TBlCbM

  18. 18
    Tom on 30 Apr 2010 #


    Some discussion of the PWC and the compilation I was talking about in this Guardian column – for space reasons I had to pose as the South African manager instead of their chief scout.

  19. 19
    koganbot on 1 May 2010 #

    Oh man, as soon as I saw that “Gee” was playing for South Korea I thought “Oh no, am I going to have to vote against South Africa?” Well, then I listened to SA find its way to haunting house and blip silliness simultaneously, and a hip-swinging play that keeps the ball moving. And that’s all before we reach the call-and-response women, who put the ball right into the net, and do it again. If they’d only had more touches… But as it is, Korea is just too amazing, disco to the Jackson ’80s to a hook that sounds simple as breathing but is unstoppable, a score with every chorus. Crackerjack battle of the Souths, but this one is Korea’s.

  20. 20
    Steve Mannion on 1 May 2010 #

    Another excellent match – when I’m not tearing my hair out (and then taping it back on) re NZ’s tactical and selection headaches I’m trying to decide which of two good tracks I like just that little bit more in the other games more and more. RSA are really motoring by the second half tho with the call and response and tho this is likely as fine a K-Pop force as you’ll see in the PWC they’re painfully narrow runners-up, or if you prefer – losers, in this knockout tie.

  21. 21
    Weej on 2 May 2010 #

    Great match, and not sure where to cast my vote. I may have to go on the basis of previous form. Is that allowed?

  22. 22
    koganbot on 2 May 2010 #

    I’m sure that nothing is disallowed other than voting more than once in the same match.

  23. 23
    Tim on 3 May 2010 #

    Last chance on this one – it closes at midnight tonight (UK time). Kogan’s right, you may cast your vote based on whatever criteria you choose.

  24. 24
    Tim on 4 May 2010 #

    Well done Korea Republic, and a sad farewell to SA: both of these sides have lit up the tournament, it’s sad that only one can progress.

  25. 25
    Tom on 4 May 2010 #

    Congratulations Chris and Korea – it’s often the case that sides battling through a tough group stage seem to find fresh momentum in the knockout stages and it was obvious from the comments that “Gee” was what the Korean fans have been looking for.

    On behalf of the SA manager I’d like to thank everyone who voted for us in all four of our games: I’ll be putting together an “alternative highlights reel” of the tracks we didn’t field and will post that link later. It”s been a massive pleasure scouting for SA, I’ve learned a great deal about modern South African pop.

  26. 26
    Tracer Hand on 4 May 2010 #

    I’m surprised this wasn’t closer! Another great match here, and it’s sad to see the hosts go out. I think “Gee” had marshalled its play so tightly that absolutely nothing SA attempted could slip through.

  27. 27
    mm on 4 May 2010 #

    The two korean americans on the team showed up for a brief post-match press conference, greeting their pop world cup fans before going back to worrying about where Mr Randle will go from here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-LgPXNWY8c

  28. 28
    koganbot on 5 May 2010 #

    There may be several teams that had more bad luck than South Africa (North Korea, Argentina, and Serbia jump to mind as superb teams that ran into particular trouble in their groups), but I think South Africa overall had the hardest road, every team it faced playing superbly, no easy chances, or choices.

    Pitch Black Afro in particular is now on my list of groups due further research, if you can tell me where to learn more.

  29. 29

    […] identity as a Korean/Chinese-Canadian woman.” I began following K-pop for this year’s Pop World Cup (the blog’s title comes from a single I fell in love with during that competition) and never […]

  30. 30
    koganbot on 20 Nov 2010 #

    Today Freaky Trigger, tomorrow the world:

    Just last month, Girls’ Generation went to number one in Japan with their Japanese version of “Gee.”

  31. 31
    koganbot on 24 Jan 2011 #

    “Grasping the ‘cute’ concept and digesting it wasn’t as easy as she thought.”

    Maddie linked this interview with Girls’ Generation where a couple of the older members said that acting cute was difficult for them: not just that they didn’t want to do it, but that they didn’t know how and had to learn:


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