Apr 10

Pop World Cup 2010: Round of 16 Match 3 – United States 0 Germany 2

FT/25 comments • 823 views

Pressure. Seasoned PWC-watchers love to see the way the pressure begins to play on the managers as the tournament progresses. Most of the time, the standard of the music doesn’t suffer, but the managers suffer plenty, spending time second guessing their opponents’ formations and the crowd’s preferences. It seems to be telling on Pete Baran (USA) and Andrew Hickey (Germany) in their various ways, they’re cutting conflicting figures at the press conference, one rather manic, the other apparently dejected…

This match closes at midnight on Wednesday 5th May

USA: Wiz Khalifa – “We’re Done” The Manager Says: “Pleased to be out of the Group Of Death, the USA are not in the business of underestimating a team as unpredictable as Germany. But we have always played our own way in this tournament so it would not behoove us to do any different now, so we call up from our hip-hop ranks Wiz Khalifa. Whilst his smoking escapades may not endear him to the kick drugs out of competitive pop football brigade, his relaxed attitude to the beautiful game I feel may trump a Germany that may be trying too hard. We are certainly sticking to our short track policy. “We’re Done” From his new barbecue friendly mixtape Kush & OJ (hence a slightly sloppy start), and prominently featuring a sample from that most under-rated of Disney TV movies Camp Rock, Khalifa displays the quiet confidence that I hope will see us into the next round. Because We’re not actually Done.”

GERMANY: Wir Sind Helden – “Die Konkurrenz” The Manager Says: “This round’s been the hardest one so far, as I’ve gone past both my own knowledge and my friends now, and had to spend several days digging through every German act on Spotify before I found this one. I never want to hear any metal or German hip-hop again…”

Round of 16 Match 3: which track do you prefer?

  • GERMANY - Wir Sind Helden 63%
  • USA - Wiz Khalifa 37%

Total Voters: 52

Poll closes: 5 May 2010 @ 23:59

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Commentary Box Analysis The problem faced by anyone managing the USA team is finding tactics which don’t seem utterly obvious to all, while matching some of the quality we’ve seen in the US domestic leagues. This track shows some nice interplay but it will require a few listens before it’s clear whether it’s fannydangle or a killer pass. Germany, on the other hand, rely very heavily on the horn line they’ve deployed on the wing, but will that be enough?

Coming up We’ll be reaching the halfway point of the Round of 16, as the mighty Ghana take on the differently mighty Slovenia.


  1. 1
    lonepilgrim on 29 Apr 2010 #

    The USAs front man seems intent on hogging the ball and his team mates are anonymous for much of the match. The Germans on the other hand play more of a team game with deft, confident play up front that slots efficiently into a solid back line and assertive horn section. Germany have lost some of the idiosyncrasy that was so endearing in the early stages and seem focused on winning here – I think they will.

  2. 2
    Lex on 29 Apr 2010 #

    Another easy win here for USA – that’s definitely one of the tracks that stood out from the Kush & Orange Juice mixtape (which I was first turned on to because it was trending on Twitter), I didn’t know it was a Camp Rock sample though lol. I presume the USA manager is familiar with Wiz Khalifa’s breakthrough hit (NB I have no idea if it was a hit anywhere) from a couple of years ago, the Alice Deejay-sampling “Say Yeah”?

    Anyway I’m not totally sold on Wiz Khalifa as a rapper yet, the mixtape is pretty middling, but his relaxed vibe works really well in individual doses like this one – love the stoned opulence of “champagne…skydiving…” especially.

    Probably the best GER track that they’ve played so far but not really a match for USA.

  3. 3
    Alan not logged in on 29 Apr 2010 #

    Wiz Khalifa are new to these pages, but hidden from ‘related posts’ is the fact that wir sind helden are no strangers here at FT towers:


    (i am not implying that it should sway the audience reaction – it’s not a factor at all for me, just thought it was worth adding the links)

    edit: to balance the links, here’s Wiz Khalifa-Kush & Orange Juice Mixtape Facebook fan page

  4. 4
    Erithian on 29 Apr 2010 #

    Not listened to the tracks yet, but is the German manager by any chance Ronnie O’Sullivan in disguise? :)

  5. 5
    Pete on 29 Apr 2010 #

    Yeah, I always thought Wir Sind Helden (no relation to Armand Van I guess) were Austrian, but clearly not. And Guten Tag is one of those tracks that pops up quite often on my mp3 due to them paying the algorithm a massive bribe (I can just think of an algorithm supping champagne at Stringfellows – it was never a classy algorithm). This lacks Guden Tag’s directness, but is nice enough for what it is.

    I too am not sold on Khalifa as a great rapper, though I do think Kush and OJ is a pretty wonderful album for its ambience. I think what is interesting about it is the number of beatless tracks on it. Unfortunately about 90% of said tracks are about smoking weed, but I love the general feel of this track (a relaxed positivity rare from many of his contemporaries), and it also manages to spotlight two of the US’s strongest games at the moment. But I recommend a listen to Kush & OJ, and hopefully this is a short enough track to get a few repeated plays at which point it will stick.

  6. 6
    FC Ljubljana but logged out innit on 29 Apr 2010 #

    Oooh this is a tricky match to call – solid summertime play by the Americans and energetic indie disco from the Germans. I think it’s much braver to play indie tracks in this tournament (cf earlier USA squad selections) and the German side may just come up trumps.

  7. 7
    lockedintheattic on 29 Apr 2010 #

    Excellent play by both sides here, and both playing to their home nations’ strengths. For me the yanks just edge it though – sadly because i’m quite a big wir sind helden fan and they have loads of songs i much prefer to this one!

  8. 8
    Martin Skidmore on 29 Apr 2010 #

    Unsurprisingly, I am going for the hip hop ahead of the indie, though the indie isn’t at all bad.

  9. 9
    Erithian on 29 Apr 2010 #

    I am going for the indie ahead of the hip hop, though the hip hop isn’t at all bad.
    Germany very much playing with a smile on their faces (and it’s not every day you say that) – the video
    gives off a nice Housemartins vibe, and there’s even a bit sounding like “The Girl From Ipanema” midway through. One of the best discoveries of the PWC so far. USA play the beautiful game too, you can imagine hitting the park on a summer’s day to this – a highly entertaining match with different styles on top form but a deserved win for the Germans.

  10. 10
    Steve Mannion on 29 Apr 2010 #

    Wir Sind Helden become the first act to appear in two Pop World Cups! I was wondering if this was going to happen at all.

  11. 11
    Matt DC on 29 Apr 2010 #

    I appear to have been guilty of writing off the Germans. I thought the USA would romp this one but no, the Germans are finally playing to their strengths. Wir Sind Helden are terrific and this is a typically exuberant performance and that clattering noise right at the end may be the sound of a whole stand getting up out of their seats.

    The USA track has some nice backing but they appear to have prematurely promoted a singer from the Disney U21 squad and she sounds of out of her depth at this level, while on this basis Wiz Khalifa cannot rap at all. Deutschland uber alles.

  12. 12
    Tom on 29 Apr 2010 #

    Yeah you never quite know when you field Wir Sind Helden which team is going to turn up – Judith Holofernes can be an absolutely clinical striker but she can also sound like she’s barely bothered turning up and the rest of the group switch between this kind of bouncily nervy NDW stuff and a sort of heavy-limbed Coldplay. Luckily it’s the good WSH who’ve taken the field here making this a very close game indeed.

  13. 13
    Andrew Hickey on 29 Apr 2010 #

    Not so much the pressure of the Pop World Cup for me, but pressure of outside events – been doing election stuff, so if we get through to the next round, expect me either dejected or elated…

  14. 14
    thefatgit on 29 Apr 2010 #

    Although the USA can call upon an enviable bank of talent, getting that talent to gel on the pitch is difficult. The German manager seems frustrated, but his dilemma hasn’t affected his tactical nous here. A nervy start from the yanks allow the germans to dominate and I think that domination isn’t going to be relinquished any time soon.

  15. 15

    […] Vote Germany in the Pop World Cup! […]

  16. 16
    Weej on 30 Apr 2010 #

    Andrew – read your comments, save yourself several days digging!

  17. 17
    Andrew Hickey on 30 Apr 2010 #

    Weej – I *KNEW* I knew the name from somewhere! I’m an idiot…

  18. 18
    koganbot on 2 May 2010 #

    I didn’t know it was a Camp Rock sample though lol

    Lex Lex Lex Lex! Did you not recognize the singer? She’s only the most extravagantly talented voice to emerge in the U.S. in the last two years.

    Here’s the clip. Song written by Antonina Armato and Tim James*, and easily the best in the movie.

    Think the rapper’s got a right to hog the ball, that being what rappers do; he’s not altogether integrated with the rest of his team, but he does a nice job prowling around their landscape, amused and pleasant.

    But this match is no easy call for me: I’ve only heard a smattering of Wir Sind Helden, but I like everything I hear, and today they find their way to fantasy sequences without losing the rhythmic thread. I’m leaning Germany, actually, as hard as it is to vote against one of my heartthrobs. But then, she’s only looped-in here.

    *Who have writing and production credits on “See You Again” and “Potential Breakup Song” and “How Do I Feel (The Burrito Song),” among other accomplishments.

  19. 19
    Steve Mannion on 3 May 2010 #

    Titans will clash…here, on paper at least. The American Goliath comes up against another giant of the game. Sadly tho I’m not feeling either track much. Germany, still not getting the synths out to my disappointment, pick up (or rather down) well during the breakdown/middle-eight phase of the game and get a goal in the process but despite the US frontman’s somewhat tuneless shortcomings I suspect they’ll snatch an equaliser before the end ensuring stalemate and we could see a most sudden of deaths for either side.

  20. 20
    Tom on 5 May 2010 #

    LAST DAY of voting for this match – the players are straining every SINEW to win, can you stand idly by?

  21. 21
    Tim on 6 May 2010 #

    Well done Germany on reaching the quarter finals – perhaps the downbeat assessment of your chances worked well!

    Commiserations to the USA, whose manager who has brought an unusually thoughtful and tactical approach to the competition this year.

  22. 22
    Pete Baran on 6 May 2010 #

    Yes, congrats to Germany. My heart fell when I saw Wir Sind Helden being played, and I’ll admit my track may have been a bit of an acquired taste. But I am please with my guys getting this far with rampant anti-Americanism being the flavour of the month and the problem of using as many freely available tracks as possible. Also I forgot to pimp the competition to the Wiz Khalifa fans, a real error here…

    Unusually thoughtful for me? Or in general!

  23. 23
    Tim on 6 May 2010 #

    Er… can I say “both”?

    I think I was getting at the fact that, as a manager, you tend to be quite clear that you’re gearing your tactics to those you expect the opposition to play. Maybe you just show your working more? Either way, I like it.

    I should say that I often do these write-ups very early in the mornings, so they tend to be a mixture of half-thought-through ideas, attempted footballspeak, and sleep. I have found this is the best way to approximate the tone of a professional football commentator!

  24. 24
    Tom on 6 May 2010 #

    I was expecting this to be closer (which is PWCspeak for “I can’t actually remember which I voted for”) – lots to like about both tracks but they won’t be standouts in the competition. Well done Germany – a quarter-final with South Korea awaits I think.

  25. 25
    Tom on 6 Jan 2011 #

    Wir Sind Helden had a new album out last year! They – uh-oh – decided to ditch the synthesisers for traditional instruments – but three tracks in it sounds pretty good, and Judith H is on good form certainly.

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