When I went down to my local betting shop to put a bet on Sweden winning the earthings! World Cup of Music, I couldn’t help but notice that in the actual World Cup the traditional big names of world football are now being matched by the likes of Uruguay and Croatia. It’s certainly developing into an interesting tournament. In part two of the Last 16 stage of our World Cup of Music we get to take a look at a few singer songwriters from countries such as diverse Costa Rica, Iceland and Japan.
We’ll start off in host nation Russia, and my search has led me to listen to a host of names – Marina Maximova, Bianka, ЛОRД, . But I’m going to go really indie for my Russian selection, with this track I found on Bandcamp by Руки Вокруг Меня.
Spain probably have a slightly different background musically, but my search has led to quite a list of interesting musicians. Firstly I came across Joaquin Sabina, then there is Mercedes Sosa and Sr. Chinarro Jero Romero too. But my choice is an indie rock singer songwriter who I’ve come across a few times – Christina Rosenvinge has a stream of albums and songs behind her, and she’s also been a strong voice speaking out against sexism in the music industry. This is “A Liar to Love”
Our next pairing is Australia and Iceland, and there’s no shortage of names to consider for either country. We’ll start off in Australia where I’ve been listening to the likes of Matt Corby and the excellent Jarryd James. And whilst I’ve tried to keep a lot of selections in these features less well known, I do like Amy Clark, and I’m conscious of the broad range of music tastes listening – so she’s my Australian selection with her recent track “I Said Hi”. Hi Amy.
Of course Iceland have somewhat of a splendid selection of songwriters, which starts from Björk, but I’d prefer to suggest some lesser established names for you to put on your latest playlists – try Árný, Arni Ehmann, Jón Þór and Svavar Knútur for starters, then there’s Júníus Meyvant and Hafdis Huld, of course. Soffia Bjorg offers something slightly different, and for those of you who like more traditional indie folk please take a listen to the excellent Marteinn Sindri. But I just had to come back to a more established name, the composer and songwriter Ólafur Arnalds, with this quite breathtaking track “Particles” featuring Of Monsters and Men singer Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir – it’s a stunning video too:
Our third match up offers us Costa Rica against the musical might of Sweden, and this has allowed me to really indulge myself and spend a while investigating some of the lesser known names of a country I’m desperate to visit myself. Straight away I came across Guadalupe Urbina, and then there’s the lovely Jenn Navarette, whom I came across on Bandcamp and has a lovely track called “Love is Like a Yellow Sweater” that I almost selected, whilst Noah Schill’s music had a lot to like about it too. I came across Debi Nova who now lives in Los Angeles, however my choice is the Costa Rican based Patino, who writes confident indie pop.
As for Sweden, well, where do I start? Obviously there’s the likes of Lykke Li, and then my favorite artists such as The Tallest Man on Earth, but there’s probably a lot of Swedish names you have heard of, so here’s a few you may not know. Try the lovely I Am Soyuz, Teodor Holmqvist, Anna Arco, the quite brilliant (and very quiet) Sara Forslund and the Iced Swede himself Freyr Flodgren (he’s half-Swedish and half-Icelandic). My choice is a songwriter who has only just released his first track, but impressive it is too – this is Riike Mo.
We reach the end of our Last 16 match ups, and Japan and the impressive Belgium conclude the round. If truth be told I couldn’t think of many Belgian songwriters, but there is Selah Sue who combines different influences in her music, and then there’s Toutva Bien. Gotye might be Australia-based but he’s Belgian-born, and the timeless Ozark Henry keeps on cropping up too. But my choice is a singer with particularly lovely voice who’s been successful for a few years now in Belgium: Alice on the Roof.
Meanwhile whilst I know many good Japanese indie, rock and pop bands, there is simply no beginning to my knowledge on singer songwriters. But actually the pedigree is impressive, from those who’ve come from AKB48 culture such as Yuki Kashiwaki to big selling artists such as Toshinobu Kubota, and more diverse artists such as the beautifully named Ringo Sheena. But my Japanese choice is actually a singer songwriting duo, a lovely indie pop combination called Popoyans who simply write lovely songs – and any lyrics which include the line “a little little little hasty pixie living in your tummy” are worth including right?
So progressing to the quarter-finals are Spain, Iceland, Sweden and Japan!
We’ll return next week with our concluding part of the earthings! World Cup of Music, where we fairly assess the remaining countries more diverse musical outputs, debate extensively their respective merits and decide that Sweden are the winners anyway. Or maybe there will be as many twists and turns as the actual football World Cup itself… [AW]