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February 1-7, 2006

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Rod Stewart

Fully Focused: Rod Stewart visited Britannia Arms Almaden during the 1994 World Cup tournament.

Goal Oriented

Music's love affair with soccer is well documented

By Todd Inoue

2006: It's a World Cup year, baby! In June, the Earth temporarily spins off its axis when the premier sporting event opens in Germany. To whet the appetite, next Friday, the Japanese national team plays the United States at SBC Park. Whether you're a fan of soccer or you surrender to the Tony Kornheiser "soccer sucks" approach, it's difficult to deny the fanaticism the sport inspires. Soccer, with its worldwide reach, has encouraged musicians around the globe to address their love of the game in myriad ways. Here are a few of my favorites.

'Ball In, Kick Off'—Cornelius (from Star Fruits CD-single No. 2). The wonder boy of audio wizardry composed this collage of amazing breadth and sculpted layering. A Brazilian announcer going nuts over a Pele goal, odd time signatures, whistle samples and a classic "goaaalll" call make this a keeper.

'The Boy Done Good'—Billy Bragg (from Bloke on Bloke). A sweet song about a pine rider ("one of life's eternal subs") finding love and acceptance is wrapped up in typically romantic Billy Bragg fashion: "I feel like I won the Cup every time we make love/ 45 minutes each way, at halftime I hear a brass band play."

'You're in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)'—Rod Stewart (from Footloose and Fancy Free). Wait, this is about soccer? Check the lyrics. The Brenton FC apprentice rides an extended metaphor before letting in on the source of affection: "You're Celtic, United, and baby I've decided you're the best team I've ever seen."

'World in Motion'—New Order (from Best of New Order). "Well some of the crowd are on the pitch." Released as the theme for England's 1990 national team, the dance pop hit rebounds from a particularly arrhythmic John Barnes rap to seal itself among New Order's top efforts.

'Scientist Wins the World Cup'—Scientist (Greensleeves). Scientist retorts to the rise of foreign-born dub warriors (circa 1982) with this wicked Cup-themed classic, produced by Henry "Junjo" Lawes and mixed at King Tubby's studio. The artwork features a cartooned Scientist and Roots Radics Band netting a game winner against a befuddled English squad. Bloodclaaat!

'¡Ole!'—Bouncing Souls (from Hopeless Romantic). The Santa Cruz punk pop band electrifies the South American stadium chant with big guitars, arena roars, hoarse singalongs and get-off-your-ass lines like "Anytime we get the itch/ We're off to find a proper pitch/ Lace your sambas, get on out/ Off we go to kick it about."

'Roberto Baggio Non E Un Miraggio!'—Il Generale & Ludus Pinski (from Bend It! compilation). Worth tracking down for the ridiculousness of the concept. The rat-tailed 1994 penalty kick shanker is feted Italian reggae-style by Il Generale and Ludus Pinski (who are like the MC Miker G and DJ Sven of the Mediterranean). Pick up any of the compilations released on Polys.

'You'll Never Walk Alone'—Trad. (from Carousel). Known as the showstopper from the Broadway musical Carousel, the Rodgers & Hammerstein show tune was unofficially adopted by Liverpool Football Club and has become a standard at practically every British football stadium.

USA vs. Japan kicks off next Friday (Feb. 10) at SBC Park at 8pm. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.

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