Congratulations are in order, then – after a cracking game with Uruguay, Germany have finished third! And they completely deserve it, too.
As a direct follow-on from my little rant about the 2006 World Cup in yesterday’s blog, one of the things Italy’s success at that tournament proved is that you can win the competition without being the best team. Now, I’m not saying that’s the case in 2010 (Spain, of course, beat Germany when it really matters) but after their simply sublime 4-1 and 4-0 maulings of two of the pre-tournament favourites, Germany could certainly make a very, very strong case for having been the best team here. Certainly they’ve been the best to watch, with their extreme youth (experienced old head Bastian Schweinsteiger is only 26) adding a great dollop of fizz and adventure to their finely-tuned, well organized, hard-working tactics. Indeed, a full set of World Cup Oscars would almost certainly favour Germany more than anybody – Joachin Loew for best manager and best dressed, Phillip Lahm for best eyebrows, Hans-Jorge Butt for most childishly amusing surname (shared with Waldo Ponce), Thomas Mueller for best young player, and Mezut Ozil for both biggest revelation and greatest lookalike. Honestly, just look at the range of things this man looks like.
I spent far too long working on that.
Where to start with German music, then? How do you even begin to approach such a vast, famous, dominant entity? How do you narrow down a possible…
If you’ve been paying attention to this blog (and if you haven’t, I forgive you), you’ll have noticed that the three teams yet to appear include one team in Sunday’s final, and one team who’ve made tomorrow’s third-placed playoff. So far, so good, but the third team haven’t been a part of the World Cup since the 24th of June, when they unceremoniously dumped out of the competition by Slovakia, having failed to win a single game or keep a single clean sheet (how shameful for the country that invented pragmatic, ultra-defensive football!). And yet, they are (for the next two days, at least) the reigning champions of the world.
Truthfully, the campaigns of 2006 and 2010 weren’t that far apart for Italy, at least from the eyes of the neutral. They didn’t thrill here, and didn’t have any star stand-outs, but then, they didn’t in 2006 either – in fact, their victory in that dull, dull final was a crushing blow to anybody that appreciates attractive attacking football (especially coming after Greece’s similarly bloody-minded win in Euro 2004). And yet they won. Of course they won – it is the Italian way. They are a country that historically comes out on top – the Roman Empire, Catholicism, the Renaissance, numerous examples in football – to the point where failure isn’t really considered as an eventuality until it’s already happened. Music is no different; it’s just another field where Italy have consistently been world leaders.
It is with a great deal of sadness that Sputnikmusic.com will cease to exist as of this month. Online media is well and truly dead, folks, and Sputnikmusic has to move with the times. However, we are excited to announce a brand new venture in the exciting world of print journalism: from July 31, Sputnikmusic will be available exclusively as a supplement with the Saturday edition of the Daily Mirror.
Well, not really.
But were confirmation ever needed that silly season had well and truly begun, it crashed through the ceiling on Monday with vuvuzelas blazing when Prince declared the internet (yes, the whole thing) to be “over” in an interview with the aforementioned British redtop. He said: “The internet’s completely over. I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it.”
He went on: “They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.” From the man who brought us such classics as ‘1999,’ ‘I Would Die 4 U,’ 3121 and ‘Nothing Compares 2 U,’ this is indeed a withering assessment of numbers. Perhaps more crucially, it represents the end of an era, not for online music, but for Prince’s association with a platform that he very much helped to mold in its infant state. Back in 1998, Prince became the first high-profile artist to sell an album…
It’s something that will probably be lost to time and forgotten about entirely, but one of the most disappointing things about this World Cup is that so many African stars, given the first chance to represent their nations in their own continent on the world’s biggest stage, never got the opportunity. Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o can count himself very lucky that he made it to the tournament fully fit, because it seems like he was the only one – Michael Essein and John Obi Mikel both missed out entirely through injury, Benni McCarthy wasn’t even picked to play, Sully Muntari seemed to be out of favour with his manager, and Dider Drogba – the man Ivory Coast’s hopes rested on, broke his arm. He eventually played a part in every game of their campaign while wearing a cast, but he was off the pace and understandably shirked a few challenges; it – along with Luis Suarez’s Hand of God II: Electric Boogaloo – was the most immediate symbol of the rotten luck Africa had throughout. Many felt that Ivory Coast would qualify from their group with relative ease, so uninspiring were rivals Portugal in qualifying for the tournament, but Drogba’s arm, and the subsequent loss of momentum it brought (and North Korea’s incompetence against Portugal, in fairness), stopped them from getting the results they needed. Drogba – a hero right across Africa – should have been one of the tournament’s stars. Instead, he barely got out of first gear. Côte d’Ivoire’s…
And so Uruguay are vanquished, and Europe come to dominate; it’s a Holland vs. Spain final, and Jules Rimet is promised a European home for another four years. That’s not how it looked three weeks ago though, or even two weeks ago, when England bumbled, Portugal stumbled, Italy crumbled, and France…..well. What to say about France?
I’m not one for hyperbole, but – with respectful nods to Andrés Escobar – I don’t think any team in the history of the tournament has ever had a worse world cup campaign than France have this year. Coached by a mental invalid, who dumped their greatest player to the bench and didn’t even pick two of their most gifted for the squad, they staggered through an excruciatingly dull opening match with Uruguay before being thoroughly tanked by both Mexico and South Africa – and in the midst of all this, the whole team went on strike after the centre-forward leading their line was sent home for being smart enough to realise his manager was a cock. The whole scenario was among the most embarrassing and shameful things ever witnessed in international football, and it was enough to ensure that not a single member of the French team emerged from the tournament with credit (except, maybe, the ones that didn’t play). As such, I wonder whether any of them deserve a picture here. So here’s a memory of happier times.
Of course, nowadays, this man is just a disgrace to everybody in football.
As Holland take to the field tonight against Uruguay, Brazilian could be forgiven for looking on with just a little anger and disappointment. Holland deserve a great deal of credit for the way they pressured Brazil and made them crumble towards the end of their quarter-final match, but the reality is that in the first half, Brazil could have had that game wrapped up. And, as Dunga’s recent sacking shows, losing in the quarter-finals simply isn’t good enough for a team of their standing. Not when a semi-final beckons against a now-gloating neighbouring country that their fans probably would have seen as an easy scalp. Not when their footballing principals had, in the eyes of their media, been abandoned. Not when a star like Ronaldinho had been left at home. Not when Miroslav Klose is so close to breaking Ronaldo’s all-time record for World Cup goals. And not when everybody appears to have caught yellow foot disease.
Maybe it’s patriotic, I guess?
Luckily for me, this blog post is an easy one to write – in terms of countries that don’t speak English, Brazil is bettered only by Germany when it comes to how well documented their music is, certainly when popular music is brought into the equation. Most of that writing revolves around tropicalia, a genre that ran concurrent with psychedelia and shared many of its ideas and ideals, but put them in a decidedly, unmistakably Brazilian context. There’s no shortage of major acts in the genre, with…
As we wait with biated breath for the semi-finals of the World Cup, here’s an absolutely cracking stat for you – if either Germany or Spain go on to win the tournament (which, with no offence intended to Nagrarok, they probably will), then the only team in the entire tournament to be unbeaten will be New Zealand. Fancy that. Switzerland – already covered way back in part 7, were Spain’s conquerors in the first game, but Serbia, the only team to beat Germany, have remained untouched until now. Let’s change that.
I’m not gonna lie – I just really like this picture.
The thing I find most immediately fascinating about Serbian music throughout the ages is the unique fascination with epic poetry – it’s certainly not the part of the world you would first think of when epic poetry comes to mind (Greece wins out there, of course), but where the Greeks kept their words and their music generally separate, Balkan culture, and particularly that of the Serbs, has sought to integrate the two. As a result, it’s now as much a musical genre as a literary one. This piece of music is based on the poem “The Building of Skadar”, a religious text of unknown authorship, and a traditional Serbian folk melody.
Unfortunately, not all Serbian music is as high-minded and moving. Some people react to major world events by trying to reflect the devastation in their own art, while some ramp up the feel-good…
While most portable music devices these days are definitely capable of supplying quite reasonable sound quality, the earphones packaged with the device often are very much lacking. In particular, the earphones supplied with ipods & iphones are lamented in the audiophile world, and even upgrading to a low-range pair of headphones can dramatically improve the listening experience. This should not be taken as an authoritative guide, but just simply an outline of what key factors to be aware of when purchasing headphones for your ipod.
Does price matter?
In short, yes. The price of ear or headphones is generally very indicative of their sound quality. Yet as the price escalates, the marginal difference in sound quality decreases. In other words the difference between a $300 and a $400 set of headphones will not be discernable for the typical listener. In particular at higher price ranges, there is no gain for portable listening devices. Furthermore with electronic audio files, the quality and bitrate of the file will have a significant impact on the listening experience, and more expensive headphone models will tend to highlight the flaws of the file.
Another caveat is that brand is often more important than price. If you opt for the right brand, even at low prices you’re likely getting bang for your buck.
What brand then?
There are a number of quality brands out there. In general try to stray away from the Japanese giants Sony, Phillips & Panasonic. For open headphones Grado have an outstanding…
You know, something has only just occurred to me. After the respective falls of France, Italy, and England, there was plenty of talk on football websites about the dominance of South America at this tournament, with their representatives in the quarter finals totalling half the draw. And yet, the tables have turned dramatically – European teams have put an end to Brazil and Argentina’s hope in emphatic style, while an admittedly impressive Paraguay couldn’t do enough to take Spain out and the continent’s lone remaining team, Uruguay, needed the Hand of God II to even have the chance to beat Ghana on penalties.
And to think, back when Mexico and Uruguay qualified from Group A at the expense of 2006’s beaten finalists France, it all looked so rosy. It was only a spot of continental in-fighting with Argentina that stopped Mexico’s impressive run – one so incredible that it even managed to make Giovani dos Santos look like a professional footballer.
In case you’d forgotten that he played for Ipswich, here’s proof.
Since they border America, you would expect that plenty of Mexican acts have found favour there – intriguingly, that’s not the case, as most of the acts that have crossed the border from the Mexican charts to the American ones have been from elsewhere in South America, be that Columbia (Shakira), Spain (Julio Iglesias), or Puerto Rico (Ricky Martin). The one clear and obvious exception to that is Carlos Santana, the man behind one of the biggest…
When England were pummelled into submission by Germany, there can’t have been much consoling the players or the more dedicated fans. If somebody had told them, however, that the team that had just humiliated them would go on to inflict an even bigger and more spectacular dicking all over their bitterest rivals, it might have made things easier. Thanks, Germany. You’ve done us all a favour. The only sad thing is that now we have to bid everyone’s favourite fatso Diego Maradona goodbye, presumably with a big sloppy kiss, a bear hug, and a smack on the arse.
I’m not joking. He even kissed Carlos Tevez.
A picture with so much grease it should carry a health warning.
Neuva cancion was already covered in Chile’s entry, with the music of Victor Jara, but Argentina also embraced the genre and contributed to it heavily – and no wonder, with the sheer volume of political upheaval the country suffered during the 1970s. He’s not quite the star that Victor Jara is, but Atahualpa Yupanqui is Argentina’s most important figure in the movement – he was too early to really be a part of the political activism that surrounded the music, but he was frequently covered by acts at the heart of it (including, on the rare occasion, Chilean ones) and in Argentina, he came to take on a Godfather-style role. He was even given the nickname Don Ata. As the key link between the country’s folk tradition and its first…
God, did anybody else feel seriously bored these past two days? We’ve been spoiled this summer; somehow it just didn’t feel right not having any football on, even with Wimbledon to keep my thirst for sport going (even if there are literally two people willing to talk about tennis at my workplace, and one of them is me). We’re back today, though, with a potential classic in the shape of Holland against Brazil. It’s easy to have mixed feelings on a match like this when it happens at the quarter final stage – it’s brilliant for the neutral fan and for the world cup itself that a team as unfancied as Ghana or Uruguay (or perhaps even Paraguay) will make the semi finals, but at the same time, it seems wrong that we will be kissing goodbye to one of these teams so early. Perhaps it’s for the best that Holland go out now, though – I mean, could you imagine a team lifting the World Cup when their star player looks so much like Screech from Saved by the Bell?
C’mon, are you seriously gonna tell me you can’t see it?
Dutch folk music distinguishes itself from that of the countries around it almost purely by virtue of tempo – to be blunt, it’s faster – although the more simple rhythms and grounded melodic patterns are also a giveaway sign. Much of it is built around dancing, which goes a way to explaining why…
Okay, so maybe I was a little harsh on Honduras when I described them as the nondescript country in the World Cup. It was true, sure, but it was harsh. There are, after all, no small number of European countries with diminutive personalities taking part, and unfortunately, today I have to turn to one that haven’t played a game in the tournament in a week, since they were beaten comprehensively by Japan. I, of course, decided to write about them at the time, since I expected Denmark to progress. D’oh. Why, I’ve almost made as big an idiot of myself as this prick!
One of these men plays for Denmark. It’s not the sober one.
Denmark’s music scene is arguably the most notable thing about it right now, as it happens. You might be shocked to realize how many Danish acts you know – Aqua, The Ravonettes, the shit one out of Metallica, Mercyful Fate, and Junior Senior are just five you should all have heard of, and that’s before you get to Mew. Truthfully, I was determined NOT to post anything by Jonas Bjerre’s rag-tag mob of foppish art students, simply because they’re so big within the Sputnik community, but I’ve reneged for one reason; I’ve realized that their best song, which dated way back from 1997, will have been missed by a big chunk of the fans who found them via Frengers and And the Glass Handed Kites. So for those people….here it is.
For the alternative/indie world, 2010 has been a banner year of excellence. From The National’s grandiloquent High Violet to The Tallest Man on Earth’s one-man powerhouse The Wild Hunt, 2010 has produced defining albums from well-known acts to stunning debut albums from artists who promise so much more in the future. In the sweeping praise that so many albums have garnered this year, it goes without saying that some things got left behind, some things that, in less impressive years, may have risen to the top of the blogosphere. This blog will attempt to bring to light some of the lesser-known highlights of 2010.
Daniel Bjarnason – Processions [Symphonic/Classical]
We begin in February with Daníel Bjarnason’s Processions, an album that I have praised for months now–from posting the opening movement “Sorrow conquers happiness” from his multi-tracked cello suite Bow to String to reviewing the album with high praise. Yet, I cannot give this album enough praise, standing in the same echelon of excellence as High Violet, The Wild Hunt, The Archandroid, and all of the other albums that we have heard over and over. The album dances between bombastic and aggressive to hauntingly minimal, as if Max Richter decided to borrow from Stravinsky instead of Glass. In addition to Bjarnason’s brilliant compositional skills, the performers on the album (including the Iceland Symphony Orchestra) are first-rate, an indication that Iceland’s music scene goes far beyond Sigur Rós and Björk, and it is not going away anytime soon. Posted here…
Time for a breather? Girlfriends and wives the world over are suddenly breathing a sigh of relief this sunny day, as for the first time in three weeks, there isn’t a single World Cup game taking place. For me, that’s a handy opportunity to go back and pick through the wreckage of the teams who’ve already found themselves eliminated and wonder why my predictions were so woeful (considering I’ve already written about Paraguay, Ghana, and Uruguay, and they’re going strong for now). Then again, at least I’m not the only person in England who’s put in a woeful performance this summer!
Fabio Capello reacts to Rooney losing the ball yet again.
Trying to pinpoint one piece of music that completely encapsulates everything about a country is impossible unless you’ve spent a significant portion of your life living there, which is why I haven’t done it yet. England, however, is another matter, so I hereby present to you the single most English piece of music in history. You want camp? You want a pompous and slightly lily-livered sense of pride? You want a romantic view of the rolling hills of the countryside painted by people who’ve never actually lived there? You want a bunch of drunken yobs chanting meaningless crap at each other in large groups? Elgar’s got the goods. Why the hell isn’t this our national anthem?!
So where do we find Englishness specifically in popular music? Well, here’s an interesting, if flawed thought; in a recent…
In July of 2006, mx founded the Sputnikmusic Staff – a move which, frankly, was made much too early.
The summer of 2006 was an interesting time for the site. Its active userbase had been declining almost since the site was founded, but this was never more readily apparent than that summer, when Sputnik was plagued with downtime because of problems with the server. At one point, the site was down for two entire weeks, and many started to accept that it might not come back. And although it did come back, the damage had been done. For one long interminable summer, Sputnikmusic’s active userbase consisted of under fifty people who kept the site alive, posting and commenting and trying to make sure the site that meant so much to them didn’t die by the wayside, because even though there was still a decent (for the time) amount of outside readership that didn’t have accounts, would they visit the site if no one was posting any reviews?
Still, mx implemented a number of big changes to the site. Apart from fiddling with the design and layout of the site, he added a slew of new features, a few of which are still around today and a few that turned out to be not so great. Lists were a huge addition. If users weren’t content with simply talking about Metallica in a Master of Puppets thread, they could now post a…