Ecclectic Collective: What the French Squad are Listening to in Brazil


Online music site Spotify have revealed the play lists of the French squad – recently arrived in Brazil for the World Cup and who’ll surely be listening to a lot of music between now and their first match on Sunday against Honduras

So which tracks will be playing over the next month of competition on the smartphones and MP3 players in Brazil? Spotify persuaded the 23 members of Didier Deschamps’ squad to reveal their choices.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s an avalanche of RnB, rap and electro that will be soothing the nerves of the French soccer players. Amidst all of that, there’s one big winner: rapper Booba. Also known as Élie Yaffa, the top-selling half-Senegalese muscled-bound pretty-boy rap artist sells almost as many songs as Daft Punk in France and beyond. Next in the French soccer squad popularity contest comes Canadian rapper/r&b man Drake, followed by Americans Jay-Z and Kanye West, with constantly-smiling French DJ David Guetta also a popular choice.

The more pop/rock trends don’t seem to cut it with this particular selection whose average age is below 27. With some of the older members of the squad, you can see more traditional choices coming through. 35-year-old veteran goalkeeper Mickaël Landreau, for example, is a fan of U2, while Spurs goalie Hugo Lloris prefers Coldplay. Another English-based player Olivier Giroud has a more ecclectic selection pumping into his ears, that includes The Verve, Coldplay and Queen’s “We are the Champions” (surely for the power of positive thinking), but he also includes the likes of France’s own dinosaur-of-rock Johnny Hallyday and Gallic crooner Daniel Lévi.

Booba: The French team's favourite

Booba: The French team’s favourite

Despite the fact that they’re going to spend quite a bit of time in South America, nobody seems to have gone much for the South American beat. One of the few partial exceptions is Hugo Lloris, who’s a fan of Ricky Martin, it seems, while PSG midfielder Yohan Cabaye does include an actual Brazilian song – La Lambada. He was only three years old when the song from Kaoma had all of France (and the rest of Europe) dancing to its sultry beat in 1989. Newcastle striker Loïc Rémy prefers to get down to Caribbean singer/actor/comic Francky Vincent.

Real Madrid midfielder Karim Benzema accords most of the space on his list to rap music (especially Booba and 50 Cent) so it seems like something of a guilty pleasure that he should also be a fan of Canadian chanteuse Céline Dion. Her song “An Amour pour Moi” is on his listening chart – a song that dates from 1984. Benzema isn’t the only fan of the Quebecoise with the golden voice because Liverpool striker Mamadou Sakho also has a track from her (“Pour que tu m’aimes encore”), as well as an additional slushy ballad in the form of Whitney Houston’s “I will always love you”.

One highly successful French version of a Whitney Houston is Jeanne Mas, who was very big in the eighties. She’s still a hit, it seems, with Marseilles midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, while 1980s French “new-wavers” Indochine strike a chord with Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny.

Classical music is conspicuous by its absence amongst the team who hope to lead France to glory, with the exception of a few: Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud comes close with the soundtrack from Gladiator, while Manchester City man Bacary Sagna goes all the way with “Con te partiro” by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.

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