The World Cup invokes some of the most passionate fandom of any global sporting event. This year’s tournament kicks off two days from now, on Thursday June 12, when Brazil faces off against Croatia at Arena Corinthians in São Paulo.
MTV Iggy will be launching a daily music digest on Thursday called “Battle Mundial,” which will serve as a music playlist for each day of the tournament. Obvious choices like soccer anthems will be included, but there will also be songs about finding inspiration in sports and nation, and just some straight-up pop gems from countries like Uruguay, Korea, Greece, Belgium, Colombia, and more.
The popularity of soccer anthems, nationalist chants, and international collaborations that pop up around the World Cup are proof of the inextricable link between music and soccer. In advance of our Battle Mundial series, we asked some of our favorite musicians from around the world to provide some context to explain the music-futbol link and what they are looking forward to in this World Cup.
Pearls Negras (Brazil)
Pearls Negras are one of the hottest groups to come out of Brazil this year, impressing us with their fierce rap-meets-trap brand of baile funk. Alice and Mariana from the group mentioned some of the social tensions brewing in the host nation and their hopes for the country and team’s future:
Alice: “It will be great to host the World cup here in Brazil, but they must not forget that we want good things for society — not only for the period of the event.”
Mariana: “It is very gratifying to know that the World Cup will be in our country. People here are already in preparation, painting streets and houses; there are flags of Brazil on every corner. The Cup is very important, especially being in Brazil, but we are also fighting for improvements in our country. If we can have a World Cup, we should also have schools, hospitals and a better living wage!”
Nigerian pop star D’Banj is extremely passionate about soccer, just see his song “Top of the World.” In 2013, he played in the Friends Africa World AIDS Day “Superstars Play for Life” celebrity match as well as performed at the closing ceremony of the African Cup of Nations in 2013:
“I am a huge football fan and I see music and football as providing entertainment to millions of people around the world. When I perform at a concert or watch a football match you can feel and see the passion that it generates. This is because music and football are both played with the heart. I hope to go to Rio for the World Cup. It would be a dream.”
Spanish dance rock band Polock, isn’t as convinced that there’s a direct link between music and soccer:
Singer/guitarist “Papu” Sebastián Barrachina: “I don’t find any relation between football and music. At least not a synergistic relation. I come from Argentina where rock fans in the ’90s used to behave as football fans. Antagonistic spirit, even in its purest ancient Grecian form, has nothing to do with music. On the other hand, we like football. From time to time we enjoy watching together a good football match. We carry a football on our van to have some fun during the stops on the road. For the World Cup we would like Spain to be a winner again, but we think that Brazil is the favorite this time.”
The GTW (United States)
Soccer is one of the most important inspirations to Chicago’s The GTW. Case in point, “Neymar Night” an ATL Bass track by the Chigerian musician is named after Brazilian superstar, because a “Neymar night” is one where a couple just “kicks it”.
“I wouldn’t be making music seriously if it wasn’t for the World Cup. I released my first GTW mixtape for the World Cup in 2010. I found out about a lot of music through playing video games related to soccer. The music resonated with me because it was from all across the world. I’m going to be supporting Nigeria, any African team, and Brazil. I’ve been a fan of Brazil for the past 15 years. It’s weird, because there are a lot of protests down there for economic reasons, but when the game gets turned on, they’ll all be in the game, cheering. I’m expecting them to win because they have talent. I think an African team advances past the quarterfinals, because no African team has done that.”
Mi Casa (South Africa)
South African house band Mi Casa has become a go-to group for performing at soccer games in 2014, having performed at the opening ceremony of the Africa Nations Championship in January and a friendly match between South Africa and Brazil in March.
Portuguese singer J-Something: “Music and sport go so well together. If you are winning, what do you do? You sing the team’s song. If you want to cheer them on, you sing a song. The World Cup is such a festive event and music brings everything together! I am looking forward to see how Brazil, with its culture and arts, interprets the World Cup.”