Jul 18

Pop World Cup 2018 – Group C Match 1

FT + New York London Paris Munich/8 comments • 824 views

What if a World Cup lasted ALL YEAR? That’s the experiment we appear to be running with this year’s PWC, and a grand experiment it is too. Here we are with the fourth match, group C, which even features a team that is STILL IN the football tournament. France are one of the great exponents of the modern pop game, but Denmark have form too, and Peru and Australia are tantalising prospects. Listen to all four tracks below the cut, and vote for your favourite two.

Pop World Cup 2018 Group C Match 1: Pick TWO tracks

  • AUSTRALIA: Ngaiire 74%
  • DENMARK: Soleima 47%
  • PERU: Animal Chuki 37%
  • FRANCE: Keep Dancing Inc. 32%

Total Voters: 38

Poll closes: 19 Jul 2018 @ 12:04

Loading ... Loading ...

FRANCE (Manager: Sam Walton): Keep Dancing Inc. – “Life Goes On”

“Paris’ Keep Dancing Inc lead their country out for their first match with the kind of classically French, vintage but super-technical short-passing build-up play that will mesmerise fans, opposition and neutrals. Drawing from the proud traditions of French pop’s recent past, Life Goes On blends just the right levels of sleepiness, wobble and melancholy, with two deep-lying forwards in the form of shimmering guitar chords and rich arpeggiated synths supporting a central striker vocal full of youth, confidence and (of course) insouciance. It may appear to be an unassuming start, but like the great France performances of previous international tournaments, Life Goes On just keeps building, self-assured in its own class and irresistibility. Peruvian, Aussie and Danish defences should be very wary indeed, Clive.”

PERU: (Manager: Garry McK): Animal Chuki – “La Venenosa”)

“Peru’s squad contains mastery of the full range of international tactics, but we’ve decided to open our tournament in a very modern Peruvian style. Animal Chuki were forged in Lima’s digital cumbia/tropical bass scene with strength at the back, relentlessness in middle and a skittish front line. We’re hope to harry our opposition all the way.”

AUSTRALIA: (Manager: James Errington): Ngaiire – “Diggin'”

“Far away from the oversaturated scenes of American and Eurasian pop football, Australia have spent the last four years quietly honing a team of gifted, polished players. Wisely, they’ve adopted the tactics of the All-Blacks and started looking to the wider area for talent. Ngaiire was born in Papua New Guinea, but moved to Australia as a child. Her music has been labelled “future soul” – but the futuristic elements are kept low key, tightly wound percussion and nervous synth stabs, while the soul is bared, often painfully so. Diggin’ is “a song about being found before you find yourself in a permanent state of no return.” and in a just world it would have been her worldwide breakthrough. Maybe it can be now.”

DENMARK: (Manager: Jack B): Soleima ft Hoodboi – “Breathe”

“‘Breathe’ is a slick, slyly addictive pop song, and Soleima’s understated, slightly wry delivery is perfect for it. ‘I wanna daydream with you, just so we can breathe’ goes the chorus, which as far as I can tell means what the Danish apparently call ikke noget, but is just lazy enough (in a good way) to fit the atmosphere of the song very nicely. It’s cold enough to sound cool, but warm enough to sound summery, and (more importantly) to sound good on a taxi radio at night, the best possible place to listen to this type of song. Even if this isn’t your cup of £6 Carlsberg now, I suspect that this is exactly the kind of sound that in a few years will make you feel oddly nostalgic for the mid to late 2010s, even if you’re not quite sure why. This is my Denmark team’s Claude Makelele figure, doing more than you think.”

RESULTS: Over in Group F, South Korea make a confident start to the tournament – not their most dominant performance but it’s still 3 points in the bag. Behind them in the Group of Death, Sweden slip up and lose second place to a stylish Mexico side. Germany’s tactics have been found out and they may be heading for the same ignominous exit their footballing counterparts suffered unless they can rally in the second game.


  1. 1
    lonepilgrim on 13 Jul 2018 #

    France begin elegantly before picking up the pace when the game goes into extra time. Peru put in a magnetic performance with some precise passing and accurate shots on goal. Australia show promise but their lone striker looks isolated as the game wears on. Denmark look slow and lacking in attack. The first two teams go through for me

  2. 2
    Tom on 13 Jul 2018 #

    BTW I think France may have sent its reserves onto the pitch after the match – I’m going to get clarification. Assume you’re just voting on the first track!

  3. 3
    katstevens on 15 Jul 2018 #

    A close match! However Peru benefit from their physical play and keep putting pressure on the other side(s), eventually nabbing the goal.

  4. 4
    Sam on 15 Jul 2018 #

    Re: Tom’s identifications of reserves – that’s exactly right. Apologies for sending the wrong link. Here’s an official video with just the first song on it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PdlZANYLjM

  5. 5
    jeff w on 15 Jul 2018 #

    Not the strongest group, on this evidence.

    France: oh dear – the prospect of 11 minutes worth of slow, instrumental synth pop was quite mouthwatering (and as surprise tactics go, it could’ve worked) but as soon as the ball was passed to the frontman it all fell apart, shots spraying left and right, not troubling the goal…
    Denmark: most accurate team talk so far. Tick, VG.
    It’s a toss up between the other two teams, but I think I’ve fallen out of love with ‘future soul’ in 2018 (see also: Janelle, Kelela).

  6. 6
    Jonathan Bogart on 15 Jul 2018 #

    A relatively unflustered, midtempo match this: four sides notable for the elegance of their play much more than their bruising physicality.

    On this showing, France look unlikely to repeat in the Pop Football arena what they just achieved in the Football Football one. They play in admirable lockstep, precision passing all the way, but their striker is unreliable, and Peru and Australia, with their busier midfields, nick possession from them often.

    Denmark, meanwhile, is playing the very familiar international pop football formation popularized by Major Lazer F.C. — a reggae defense with shiny pop forwards and a flamboyant EDM midfield.

    One-drop rhythms are often perilous in pop football, leaving so much open space for more aggressive teams to score through, and for my money that’s exactly what Peru’s clattering, funkier (but less performatively funky) squad, and Australia’s passionate, unflagging squad, led by the best (by some distance) striker of the match, do.

    (Admission of bias: Ngaiire’s song was among my favorites of 2016, while all the others are new to me.)

  7. 7
    koganbot on 16 Jul 2018 #

    I started off thinking Group C was sedate and then this morning let it run on shuffle and ended up feeling it as much as the others. Then playing the tracks in order it worked as a mix, each track seemingly drawing on possibilities from the one previous. There was dub and electrodance all through even when not stated as such, all done differently.

    Keep Dancing Inc.: Nice reel to reel, says Clare. Gentle guitars, gentle synths, charming accents, though reminds her of the Thatcher ’80s. I hear stately synth bubbles that are getting submerged in an aquarium. Nicely quavering Brit-like vocals recall the immortal words of Simon Frith, “Brits can’t sing”* – though in this instance it’s a copying of the Brit style of not being able to sing, which takes more skill but less talent. Kinda sweet.

    Animal Chuki: Chucki’s in love! Well, probably not. Is stand-offish in the quietly moody ambience of a dimly lit slow-dance midnight. (Interesting what gets called “moody.” “Anarchy In The U.K.” had a mood, but no one calls it moody!) Clare hears Animal Chuki as trance inducing and a little dangerous. Feels like addiction, like the impermanent state of the magnetic filings they were filming. Living in the submaterial world.

    Ngaiire: Really beautiful voice, Clare says. Great control, tasteful and smooth. The dancers are like nymphs. Although Ngaiire has a really beautiful body she lets the dancers shine. I concur in all of this. Although Ngaiire has a really beautiful voice, she lets electric percussion clank upwards from underneath. I’ll add that for all its control, her voice sticks out like elbows, finds sparks and quirks around her edges. Ready to shoot off like sideways rockets, like a Phoebe Snow or a Laura Nyro. (Well, then, like Brit and moody above, the quirks are not her quirks.)

    Soleima: Chills back to the spacey danciness of the first two tracks, though this is more Stacey than spacey, as in Stacey Q: the spare dubbish backing highlights small brushes and echoes, while the quiet breathy voice finds bumps and edges on its periphery, like Stacey’s. Like Ngaiire’s. But Soleima sounds too young for Clare, not really in her generation. Bieberish, soft flow, poor little rich girl, and she wasn’t even paying attention to the cats. In international futbol, you ignore cats at your own peril.

    Clare’s order: Australia, France, Peru, Denmark.
    Frank’s order: Denmark, Australia, Peru, France.

    *Is actually “Britons can’t sing,” Simon Frith, “Striking Back,” New York Rocker, June 1982.

  8. 8
    weej on 21 Jul 2018 #

    Well…. I stopped reading the comments here as I had submitted one of my favourite songs of the last decade and was finding myself not really enjoying some mild, possibly justified criticism of my choice. So very happy and surprised at how well it turned out. Thanks, voters, and thanks Ngaiire! Looking forward to the next round.

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