The knock-out stages are ready to begin. The rules are simple – I think most of these tunes are the musical equivalent of those horrible world cup flavoured crisps, so I don’t want to listen to them any more than I have to. It’s a simple contest – two songs play, the best one goes through. If I can’t decide on first listening, I will listen an Extra Time. Bonus points are awarded for football content and mention of the country being represented – but that won’t be enough to save a crap tune.

If you wish to play along, here’s the link again:

Without further ado, let’s get straight into the Round of 16.

The Very Most – Irlande (FRA)

The intro sounds like it should be in a Tarantino movie. The lyrics are a bit of a let-down – especially asserting that France has always been a friend of the United States. But could a last-minute inclusion of ‘Balzac’ put them through?


Pearse McGloughlin – Jongmyo Shrine (KOR)

I’m saying this genuinely: right from the kick-off, listening to this song gave me goosebumps and tingles up my spine. It’s like ‘Hey There Delilah’ by ‘Plain White’ except without the annoying self-importance. It’s a clear winner.

Winner: KOR

Grand Pocket Orchestra – Nigeria (NGA)

Sleigh bells and the snare from a marching band segue into a strange, sparse section with vocals which may or may not be saying “aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-Nigeria”. ‘Nigeria’ has a feeling akin to the Beatles ‘Day In The Life’. It doesn’t remind me of football.


Showstar – Uruguay! (URU)

Taking a cue from American ska-core, the verses are toe-tappingly upbeat. The lyrics are awful – but ‘Uruguay!’ scores points repeatedly for actually being about football and for the use of crowd noise. The man in black steals the limelight when this tie is decided by a break with a referee’s whistle in it.

Winner: URU

Lightholler – Slovenia’s Dream (SVN)

Probably inspired by the Smashing Pumpkins ‘Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness’, this is a solid performance from a team with seemingly little skill or creative flair, but somehow, it manages to be more than the sum of its parts and put in a sterling instrumental.


Sleep Good – Australia (AUS)

‘Australia’ combines a skippy drumbeat with some jazzy chords and assorted instruments. It’s a reasonable effort, and against another song, the decision to play without lyrics could have paid off, but ‘Slovenia’s Dream’ was better in every department – its shortness leaving me wanting more, while ‘Australia’ tired in the final stages.

Winner: SVN

Betty and the Cavalero – Meet Me At The Red Light (GER)

Accordion, ship bells, strings and nautical lyrics give this song a real atmosphere, and conjures up images of North-European docklands. For me it’s more Amsterdam than Düsseldorf, but that’s just picky, and the German lyrics are clever rather than cringe-worthy.


Boca Chica – Wildlife of Algeria (ALG)

This effort falls just short of the reliable Germans in most respects. It’s entirely in French, so it’s hard to really get what it’s about – although in fact it’s mostly just a list of animals. The equaliser comes with the mention of Algeria itself, and that takes it to…

Extra Time – Germany’s greater finesse and clinical finishing take them through narrowly. Algeria were a little sloppy and just didn’t quite have enough creativity here.

Winner: GER

Goatboy – Japanese City Nights (JPN)

The competition is hotting up, and I don’t think Japan have the pace or quality to go through here. They are stuck in a rigid formation and have no flair. With no vocals, they are sorely lacking up front.


Harry Bird – Pesadilla No.7 (PAR)

The strong chord progression gives this song a lot of quality movement, and there’s just nothing in reply to the imaginative word-play. It’s not much of a contest; harmonica beats gong, end of story.

Winner: PAR

Escape Act – Slovakia (SVK)

Some slow build up play here, and a flat vocal line. The catchy chorus is the star here, as the novelty of the lyrics has worn off fast. It’s just too predictable, and the sequenced beats aren’t really catchy, or interesting, or very moving.


Spirit Spine – Field Way (Song For Cameroon) (CMR)

Cameroon show us here how to build – layers gradually adding and blending in to give a euphoric groove with a melody over the top like the theme from ‘Chariots of Fire’. It’s not a classic performance by any means, but good enough.

Winner: CMR

Tap Tap – Dry Dry Land (POR)

The kindest thing I can say say about this song is that it’s let down by its front-man – who sounds like Scroobius Pip and can’t hit most of the high notes in this song. It’s the musical equivalent of blazing over the bar.


Manwomanchild – Chile La Roja (CHI)

This is how to do a 60′s-style lo-fi . Don’t bother with the high notes – just rip off ‘Ziggy Stardust’, put in the names of the Chile squad and write a chorus about how Chileans have been ignored, but now’s their time. Solid work from back line as well – especially the bass player.

Winner: CHI

Candy Claws – Alp Sway Snow Team (SUI)

The bells from ‘Nigeria’ make a re-appearance, along with the noises from the Zora’s Kingdom level off Legend of Zelda. It’s nice and chilled out – but the vocals are so indistinct I can’t even tell what they’re saying, let alone what they’re about. I can’t stand to listen to the end, so it’s not looking good.


Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Back To You (BRA)

On the other hand, the footballistically fantastic Brazil don’t put in a great musical effort. A nice intro and catchy beat hold my attention, and the song peters out before I have chance to criticise the poor recording quality.

Winner: BRA

So the wheat has more or less been separated from the chaff, and we have a selection of seven pretty decent songs, plus Brazil. We still have to lose a whole lot more, though, before we can crown the World Cup Winner of indie songs. Join me – provided I am not struck down by the curse of the metatarsal.

Chris Oliver

I've been playing bass guitar and guitar for over half my life. I last played bass in in a band called Electromotive and as a singer-songwriter I have written songs about cheese and vajazzles (separate songs!). I started out listening to 60s, 70s and 80s rock as a kid and I was in to grunge and U.S. punk and ska in the 90s. Since then, I've broadened my tastes and I like the best of all styles of music, even country. I've been writing for Silent Radio since it started.