From the department of "I may live to regret this…"
Since I had not a shred of interest in today's games, I decided to mark the end of the first round with a wish farewell to the departing teams by means of a nice song chosen by free association.
Thistle71 pointed out that some of the connections were a bit obscure so there are explanatory notes; he also implied that it should be made crystal clear that he didn't pick any of these.
Angola: Start! by the Jam. I picked this only because of the lyric "if we connect for two minutes only it will be enough!" I needed a team to support in substitute of Scotland, a long shot expected to be out after the first round, but with the key difference of not embarrassing themselves in the process. And there they were, Angola. Their match with Mexico was one of the more satisfying goal-less draws I've seen in a long time. Obrigado, Palancas Negras, I'll keep the t-shirt. (In the meantime, my rebound to Ghana can be accomplished to Jumping Someone Else's Train by the Cure.)
Costa Rica: Fernando by Abba. "There was something in the air that night, the stars were bright…" to be honest, one of the few teams I neither saw nor formed an opinion about, so I shall casually insult their peaceful, well educated country with a song featuring the best Swedish-written English-language rhyming couplets about revolution.
Croatia: Let me let you down by Mudhoney. I really thought after they took it to Brazil that there was something going on here, but they couldn't quite break past the technical play of the Japanese or out-muscle the Australians. Could have done better.
Czech Republic: The Bitterest Pill (I ever had to swallow) by The Jam. Bring on the Night by the Police. Losing to Ghana must have stung just a touch.
Iran: Don't bring me down, ELO. Seriously, what are you going to do with this? I figure there's never a bad time to have some inspired pop fluff, and you might as well match it with the country led by a Holocaust-denying pseudo-intellectual who wants nuclear weapons. Yay! "Don't bring me down, Bruce": the new diplomatic line to Tehran.
Ivory Coast: The Harder they Fall, by Jimmy Cliff. If the Ivory Coast had been in a weaker group, they would have been through to the Group of 16. Is it a coincidence that the strongest African team was in the Group of Death. Perhaps… but when you listen to Jimmy Cliff sing, "Well, the oppressors are trying to keep me down, Trying to drive me underground, And they think that they have got the battle won, I say forgive them Lord, they know not what they've done…," you can feel the anti-colonial vibe — or you can treat it as a fair description of Drogba's play.
Japan: Too Darn Hot, by Erasure. Their Brazilian coach Zico complained that they were having to play in the heat of the afternoon to satisfy Japanese television; they held Brazil's feet to the fire enough that the Brazilians actually had to play, so there.
Korea: Ice Cube, Korea wants a word with you, Skankin' Pickle, because people don't "think pickle" often enough. It's catching up, NoMeansNo, because footie karma will catch up with you eventually, no matter how tidy your fans are.
Paraguay: Der Horst Wessel Lied, just like Opa used to sing.
Poland: You bet we've got something personal against you, Black Flag, or possibly Blitzkrieg Bop, The Ramones. Of all the nations who conveniently forget that they were busy persecuting Jews and others along with the Nazis, the Poles annoy me the most.
Saudi Arabia: Oh who cares? I mean, really. Fine, Petrol by Orbital.
Serbia and Montenegro: Let's have a war, Fear, or Love Will Tear us Apart, Joy Division. Again, I think that this should be fairly obvious. (Perhaps Can't get used to losing you by the English Beat? Perhaps not.)
Togo: Money Money Money, Abba. We're in it for the money, Supergrass. Cashing in, Minor Threat. You know that things are bad when the players are threatening strike over win bonuses from qualification over a year overdue, and the Togolese FA can't be trusted with the money from FIFA so it has to go direct to the players.
Tunisia: Beats the hell out of me. Perhaps The Fly by U2 for its north African wa-wa pedal tones? This is pathetic; how parochial am I? Hmph.
Trinidad and Tobago: Rasta Shook Them Up, Peter Tosh, or possibly Long Shot Kick De Bucket, either the Pioneers or the Specials… A little bit stereotypical; I know that T&T aren't Jamaica but there's nothing wrong with a little vintage ska and rock-steady. As Peter Tosh sang, "A few days ago we had a wonderful time, Rasta shake them up, Rasta shook them up, everybody was jumping and shaking their party line… so mighty, so dreadful." If only they could have finished the job against England, alas.
USA: Who are you by the Who, Future Boy by Turin Brakes, Battle of Who Could Care less by Ben Fold's Five. Seems to me like this World Cup has highlighted two key themes in American soccer life: how long is this going to be the preserve of a bunch of middle-class suburban white kids the likes of the UVA mafia, and, how much are American players going to stay home in the MLS? As for the battle of who could care less; well that's for the endless cavalcade of articles about how soccer sucks, is unAmerican, shouldn't be watched, etc. Hey, you know what? If you don't like soccer, that's fine, shut the f*ck up about it because I'm trying teach myself Spanish off the Univision coverage over here.