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Howdy. You might have noticed something that something fairly big is about to start in South Africa, and as a European I am duty-bound to spend the next month waffling on and on and on about it. It’s great, though, because the World Cup offers us a chance to do many things, like laugh uncontrollably at France, get drunk at 2 in the afternoon, tell a room of journalists to ’suck it and keep on sucking it’, and research other countries in the hope of finding another stereotype to chant about. So why not do it here? I’ll bet that 95% of the people on Sputnik own songs from, at most, 6 of the countries participating (and that’s accounting for your token J-pop albums and weirdly popular outliers like Laibach).

So where better to start than the hosts?

One of these men is called Macbeth Sibaya. Awesome.

South Africa’s music is unique amongst that of Africa in the way it has permeated American culture, largely thanks to Paul Simon and his massively successful Graceland; indeed, when the average person tries to imagine African music, from any part of the continent, it’s almost certainly the monophonic vocal harmony of Ladysmith Black Mambazo they picture. It’s an odd stereotype, for sure, but it’s one that’s ensured that they were, and perhaps still are, more famous in the US than they were in their home country.

Yet Ladysmith are a one-dimensional representation of a national scene varied and vibrant enough to make Guardian columnists get all hot and bothered about it – a scene that has contributed the biggest jazz act in African history, the most acclaimed alternative rock band currently plying their trade in the continent, and one of a small handful of reggae acts to truly break out from Africa into European and American markets. For the latter two, do some searching for the name Parlotones – fans of The Killers and Snow Patrol will find much to enjoy about them, particularly if they enjoy an occasional splash of early Radiohead – and Lucky Dube, a legend of socio-political reggae who was tragically murdered by car jackers in front of his own children in 2007. Here’s the former, though; a man named Abdullah Ibrahim, who often recorded and released material under the name Dollar Brand. He’s just about famous enough to have snuck into the much-derided 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die as one of a few token African representatives, but don’t hold it against him too much.

Some mind should be paid to the dance music currently enjoying much success over there, too. It’s an interesting switch into unusual territory for a country with such heavy and such recent history weighing upon it. Generally, it’s been music of a political bent that’s found favour – whether that bent is an outright display of dissent against racism or the government, or a more subtle roots revival that harks back to a time before apartheid – but the recent outburst of dance acts have been almost entirely apolitical. It makes sense, of course – the regime ended in 1994 and there is a whole generation of young adults now who can’t remember apartheid ever existing. Why continue to reference something hand-on when it was never an up-front, inescapable part of your life? So the club sounds of SA, while still retaining some of the nation’s musical character in both its percussion and its sunny disposition, opt for hedonism and escapaism – in a way not entirely dis-similar to the post-Vietnam US pop in the ’80s. DJ Bongz – a multi-platinum selling artist in SA – is a key proponent; here’s the blissed-out “Sobuye S’bonane” from 2007.

Oh, and if we’re talking about South African music, I suppose there’s also the vevuzelas….but I won’t get into that. If you plan on watching the World Cup, you’re going to be hearing far, far too much of them over the next four weeks.





DFelon204409
06.11.10
oh hell yes

EasternLight
06.11.10
being from the us, i do want us to win, but i would love to see south africa win it somehow.

Douglas
06.11.10
US and SA stand no chance.. Fantastic read! Love it

klap
06.11.10
what is this "world cup?"

Vooligan
06.11.10
Aussie Aussie Aussie. Oi Oi Oi

God i hate that chant. But yes, go Australia!

WhiteNoise
06.11.10
GO AUSTRALIA!!!

Although we really don't have a hope in hell, so when they lose I'm gonna back England :D

Jim
06.11.10
dougie i think you mean RSA

i didn't know south australia made the world cup! ;)

Douglas
06.11.10
Abbreviations... watevs ahaha

ameypv
06.11.10
One of these men is called Macbeth Sibaya. Awesome.

the right one.Steven Pienaar is on the left.he plays for everton.you live in england? mega lol if yes.

ameypv
06.11.10
what is this "world cup?"

^dumb

Iai
06.11.10
You seriously think I don't recognise Steven Pienaar? Everybody knows who he is. Or are you suggesting Macbeth Sibaya isn't as funny a name?

Iai
06.11.10
Some websites this morning are suggesting that because SA have France, Uruguay, and Mexico in their group, and England had the same group in 1996 when they were hosts, it's an omen that England will win.

Uh....isn't that actually an omen South Africa will win?

Out best omen is Spain winning the Euros for the first time since 1964 tbh

theacademy
06.11.10
lol why does anyone here care when the Mets and Phillies are tied in the division!!!

PuddlesPuddles
06.11.10
Soccer's for cats.

theacademy
06.11.10
kitty cats

taxidermist
06.11.10
MEXICO!

thebhoy
06.11.10
I thought Mexico was going to run riot based on the opening 10 minutes, but South Africa settled in nicely.

DirEnRefused
06.11.10
GOOOALALLLLLALLLL

Masochist
06.11.10
No mention of Infant Sorrow's "African Child?"

Aids
06.11.10
I've been waiting four years for this tournament. Great feature/article/blog/whatever this is.

ameypv
06.11.10
lol i didnt know you posted that Iai.wouldnt have posted that if i knew it

Poet
06.11.10
GO CAMEROON!

Romulus
06.11.10
"lol why does anyone here care when the Mets and Phillies are tied in the division!!!"

makes me cry

Poet
06.11.10
They're in the remix versions of the songs

misho87
06.11.10
GO SLOVAKIA GO! there will be a article about slovak music?

Iai
06.11.10
There will indeed :)

Waior
06.11.10
things were NUTS in mexico this morning, it ruled



TheWhiteAfrican
06.12.10
good on you for repping Abdullah Ibrahim (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XXxylvA4K0 is one of my personal faves of his)

although if sputnik users are interested in some fantastic south african music I highly recommend checking out Lark, a radiohead/portishead/amon tobin inspired act. criminally underrated and absolutely one of the best live acts. check out:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beyJUmO2mw8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4eC3B0O0IA&feature=related

if you want some more:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXOL9weSKVs&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKSXg9l6Hsw&feature=related

also, Fokofpolisiekar is probably the most influental and talented group in the punk and/or rock scene, but the language barrier might devalue them a little bit in the eyes of non-afrikaners. somewhat inspired by Queens of the Stone Age. anyway, check out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MdSh8OGCGw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FlXGk8--7E
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGy_2eFjsE8

Jim
06.12.10
"This article is a joke. I listened to all of these tracks and didn't hear bees on any of them."

rofl you're not wrong. those horns are ridic.

Jom
06.12.10
Awesome blog - can't wait for the upcoming ones. I think I pulled a muscle laughing at Dave's comment, too.

DaveyBoy
06.12.10
Great start to the series Nick.

Too bad the World Cup didn't start as well; Draw... Draw.

Throw the f**kers into Extra Time... We want results!

Kiran
06.12.10
the opener was mega exciting but france - uruguay was so uninspired and boring, especially given the hype around younger players like suarez and gourcoff who i was excited to see perform on higher levels than the dutch and french league

thankfully it was the second match because if i hadnt been really drunk i prob wouldve been annoyed at the time

looking forward to more of these write ups though, very nice work

DaveyBoy
06.12.10
Meh, agreed the opener was the better game... But had it not been for the home crowd, even that wouldn't have been great. I guess there will always be some nerves in the 1st week.

Kiran
06.12.10
glitter-doused r kelly in the opening ceremony made me lol pretty hard too

DaveyBoy
06.12.10
I intentionally avoided the opening ceremony.

MarkvandenBerg
06.12.10
Go Bafana Bafana!!!!!

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