The 2014 World Cup has already seen a few teams starting to pack, and although the always not-so-bright artist selection for World Cup song performers is having you listening to Pitbull and J-Lo before every game, we've decided to compile our favorite football songs in order to give you a little variety in football-related music during the big event in Brazil. Ranging from official World Cup songs, player tributes, players singing, and Spaniard indie classics, we managed to put together an assorted collection of Latin songs related to the game.
Los Ramblers - "El Rock del Mundial"
Listed as the first official World Cup song according to Wikipedia, Los Ramblers’ lighthearted slice of New Orleans Jazz-influenced rock‘n roll certainly established the recurring theme in almost every World Cup song: treating the tournament like a huge party and gathering of different cultures. The one trait that went uncontinued is that the song blatantly supports the home team, and hopes Chile will crush its opponents. Aside from that, it’s got a nice parallel between the boogie dancing and the organized teamwork often required to have success in football. - Pierre Lestruhaut
Roberto do Nascimento - "Fútbol México 70"
“Fútbol México 70,” the official song of the (duh) 1970 World Cup, is cheesy as all hell, but what cheese! For starters, it comes out of your speakers sounding like an offensive clash of traditional Mexican music. But all of a sudden it becomes this proto-MOR pop that’s also weirdly appealing. Seriously, after three minutes you can’t help but scream “FÚTBOL MÉXICO SETENTA!” like Gerd Müller’s up in your grill. Then there’s the horn section halfway through that’s accompanied by this delicious touch of syncopation and clapping. This is easily the best official World Cup song undoubtedly created by a committee of fifteen people. - Andrew Casillas
Ricky Martin - "La Copa de la Vida"
What can I say about “La Copa de la Vida” that hasn’t already been said about the Beatles’ “Revolution?” Seriously. This thing sounds like a goddamn truck. It has a chorus built for 70,000 seat stadiums. Even the BRIDGE sounds epic (that salsa piano, y’all). In retrospect, what’s key to the song’s lasting charms is Ricky’s vocal. It’s deft—not overtly macho. Any rockero would have belted the hell out of this and obscured the song’s hopeful nature. And most other pop stars would have cut the balls off this track by singing it like a gospel song. Indeed, Ricky Martin make it sound like the world’s most handsome fan—which he was, in all honesty. - Andrew Casillas
Shakira - "Waka Waka"
Remember “Waka Waka”? Shakira’s 2010 feel-good World Cup stadium anthem has about as much going for it as it does against it. For starters, its chorus’ winding backstory from Cameroonian military song to World Cup world-pop is absolutely fascinating. The song itself is serviceable and catchy—the coupé-décalé guitar makes the whole track as far as I’m concerned. “Waka Waka” is also global, in that it’s a muddy amalgam of cultural signifiers, not unlike its singer—and also similar to the Africa depicted in Michael Jackson’s “Remember The Time” and “Black Or White” music videos (which youtube conveniently suggested after “Waka Waka”). And that’s its biggest problem: from the Lion King-esque opening shout to the slightly patronizing “this time for Africa” line, “Waka Waka” sonically and visually indulges in too many Africa tropes and platitudes. It’s an Africa that is only exists in the imaginations of U.S. movie and music execs, and is remote from everywhere else—including South Africa, 2010. But, even with all that said, “Waka Waka” is still better than “We Are One (Ole Ola).” - Monika Fabian
Andrés Calamaro - "Maradona"
There have been enough Maradona tributes written throughout the years to fill out half of this playlist. There’s Los Ratones Paranoicos adaptation of their rock en español hit “Para Siempre,” cuarteto music singer Rodrigo’s tribute to the infamous Mano de Dios, and Manu Chao’s more subtle “La Vida Tómbola” that got immortalized in Kusturica’s documentary. Yet we went with Calamaro’s tribute because nothing really beats a rock legend singing about a soccer legend. As you would expect it glorifies the former player awarding him divine status (“es un ángel y se le ven las alas herídas es la biblia junto al calefón”), and is also very apologetic of his doping and off-field issues (No me importa en que lío se meta Maradona es mi amigo y es una gran persona (el diez)”), which just pretty much gives you an idea of the godlike figure he managed to become in his home country. - Pierre Lestruhaut
Mano Negra - "Santa Maradona"
Not a exactly a Maradona tribute in the traditional sense, it rather treats the Argentine legend’s name more as a pop signifier in a song that celebrates the intensity of playing the game and being a futbol fan like none other. Polyglot and eclectic music fan Manu Chao sings in french here and drops a series of rhymes that go from team supporting, to match narrating, to violence inciting, singing “allez, allez, allez” a few years before Ricky Martin had the whole world singing it in 1998. As far as capturing the viscerality, intensity and adrenaline of every facet of the game goes, no one’s done it better than Mano Negra. - Pierre Lestruhaut
Marcelo D2 - "Sou Ronaldo"
“Sou Ronaldo” is one of those songs you can’t stop listening to simply because it’s by far the weirdest, kitschiest and most amusing player tribute there is. Where do we start? There's the fact Marcelo D2 raps in first person as if it were actually Ronaldo himself who was indulging in braggadocio, there’s the (sorta failed) attempt at the weird hybridization of bringing hip-hop and samba together, and there’s also that sort of collective shout you hear when a star players’ name is called on stadium speakers that gets added to the song as part of the beat. “Sou Ronaldo” is essentially a little bit of everything you expect from great rap music: braggadocio, genre hybridization, and sonic experimentation. - Pierre Lestruhaut
Jorge Ben - "Fio Maravilha"
Although player tributes tend to be written for legendary stars that have been instrumental in bringing soccer glory to a whole country or city, Jorge Ben wrote the most humbling one of them all for a player that might be more popular because of this song than for his playing career. A hit single in the 1970s, it recalls a game between Flamengo and Benfica in which, after the crowd demanded that Fio Maravilha entered the game, he was brought in as a substitute and scored a memorable goal in which "he dribbled past the goalkeeper but did not enter the goal with the ball because he had humility." A metaphor for the substitute player entering to save the game as an angel sent from heaven. - Pierre Lestruhaut
Kabah - "Oye Como Canto"
Realtalk: everybody knows that Kabah’s best futbol song is really “La Vida Que Va.” It has nothing to do with the World Cup per se, but it was the theme song to “El Juego de la Vida,” that early aughts teen soccer telenovela (starring all of the 30-something “teenagers” in Televisa at the time) which sought, at least in name, to capitalize on residual World Cup ‘98/“Copa de la Vida” fervor. But a few years before that, in anticipation of Rafa Marquez and Luis Hernandez’s tricolor in France ‘98, Kabah released “Oye Como Canto” a mid-tempo brassy number punctuated by Tarzan-ish “oh-eh-oh’s” and futbol stadium sounds. It earnestly extols Mexican soccer and national pride—honorable Mexican pastimes, to be sure, but doesn’t do much else. But hey, sometimes you gotta make your “Oye Como Canto”’s to get your “La Vida Que Va”s. A difficult song to come by, the best quality version of the song we were able to find was this not-so-stellar YouTube stream. - Monika Fabian
La Habitación Roja - "Nunca ganaremos el mundial"
Although many people claim that the song is no longer valid ever since Andrés Iniesta scored the winning goal for Spain in Johannesburg, La Habitación Roja’s “Nunca ganaremos el mundial” remains Spaniard indie rock’s finest futbol related track. Written just a few years before “La Roja” finally ditched their eternal underachievers label and started their ongoing world football domination, it’s a depiction of football fandom as unconditional passionate romance. A love song of epic proportions, it draws parallels between the loyalty a fanbase shows for its own team and that of a person for its lover (“Aunque las calles se derritan, aunque las flores se marchiten, aunque pasemos de los treinta y las derrotas sean eternas.”). Spain may have finally won the World Cup, but “Nunca ganaremos el mundial” still holds up as one of the the greatest poetical depiction of sports fandom. - Pierre Lestruhaut
Los Planetas - "La Copa de Europa"
Although lyrically it has no relation to football aside from its title, members of legendary indie rock band Los Planetas have claimed the song was intended as a late tribute to their city’s club FC Barcelona and their 1992 European Cup triumph. Although it’s more renowned for being the closing track in what’s considered by many as the seminal record in Spaniard indie rock, its baroque pop grandeur and epic build-up make it the perfect song for soundtracking old footage of memorable futbol games on YouTube. Fuck it, this should actually be the song that’s played at the end of every soccer trophy ceremony, instead of Queen’s dried up “We are the Champions.” - Pierre Lestruhaut
Planta Carnívora y Adrianigual - "Maracanaso"
The song was uploaded on Diego Adrián's Soundcloud page a few days before Chile's major upset over Spain, and eventually served as a premonition for what was going to happen at the Maracana stadium between those two teams. The song is quite surprising, since we weren't really expecting that 2010's Chilean pop first attempt at World Cup-related songwriting would end up being a reggaetón song. I would have expected that having Adrianigual trying themselves at reggaetón would end up being campy, but "Maracanso" is actually both infectious and hilarious. Planta Carnívora (whoever that is) is awesome at rhyming some of the Chilean players' names (I mean: "El negro Isla dejando todo en la pista," "Pinilla, bueno para mirar a las chiquillas"), and Diego Adrián, as usual, is excellent at singing sexually charged hooks ("Llegamos al Maraca, mami muéstrame tu arco"). If anything, "Maracanso" is way better than any song you'll hear on the World Cup soundtrack, and already feels like the greatest underground World Cup song ever. Also probably the only one we've ever heard. - Pierre Lestruhaut