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FIFA

Soundtracking: The best FIFA songs of all time

No-one hates FIFA more than the people who actually play it. Dodgy connections, inexplicable goalkeeping, over-the-top through balls, Presnel Kimpembe… all the things listed here can reduce a regular player to a cold sweat. But if there’s anything that can bring all players together, it’s the iconic soundtracks that come with each edition. Everyone remembers the one particular song that reminds them of their childhood. From indie-rock jams and Britpop classics to dance anthems and fresh grime tracks, there’s something for everyone in a FIFA soundtrack. Resident Mancunion FIFA players Dan Knight and Charlie Morton have taken it upon themselves to find some of their favourite ever tracks from games past and present.

 

FIFA 2002 – FIFA 09

Gorillaz – ’19-2000 (Soulchild Remix)’

Dan Knight:  An outstanding track from Damon Albarn‘s eclectic side-project Gorillaz, this is the oldest tune on the list, coming from way back in 2002. Featuring Albarn’s unmistakeable vocals, a bouncy electronic backing and the characteristic cynical lyrics of the band, this is the song you’d have heard as your older brother refused to let you have a turn on the Xbox. On par with the other great Gorillaz track from FIFA 11, ‘Rhinestone Eyes.’

Caesars Palace – ‘Jerk It Out’

DK: How could we leave out arguably the most iconic FIFA song of all time? Whilst the Swedish band never had another  hit in the same way, the brash stylophone riff that opens this track is instantly recognisable as belonging to one of the biggest anthems of the decade. Blasting this as you organised legends like Zidane, Nedved, Raul and Shevchenko into a team is something very difficult to match in terms of vibe and nostalgia. No list of best FIFA songs is complete without this.

 

The Stone Roses – ‘Fools Gold’

Charlie Morton: Probably the best song from any FIFA game, this 80s classic is still getting played on the radio and in clubs, but even on a FIFA soundtrack it was just perfect. Despite its release predating the game by 24 years, it shows its timelessness by slotting in amongst music over two decades younger. That instantly recognisable bass and Ian Brown‘s unique style combine to make it one of FIFA’s most iconic.

The Streets – ‘Fit But You Know It’

CM: Part of the beauty of this song is how much it splits opinion. Mike Skinner‘s offbeat rambling about a girl he meets on a night out over the top of a simple garage beat shouldn’t be nearly as good as it is. It might not be the most typical FIFA song ever, but it’s too good to miss off this list. For those who played the game at the time, its distinct sound will bring memories flooding back.

New Order – ‘Blue Monday’

CM:  ‘Blue Monday’ is another song that well predates the game’s release, but again to the same success. Despite being released in 1983, this electronic anthem didn’t feel out of place in a mid-2000s game. The famous intro gave the song an immediate impact when it cropped up, and had it been released closer to the game’s era, it would certainly be considered much more of a FIFA song.

Sam Sparro – ‘Black & Gold’

DK: A proper childhood classic for all of us, this track fights off some strong competition from the likes of Jupiter One, MGMT and FIFA veterans Ladytron to land a spot on our list. Aussie one-hit wonder Sam Sparro croons his way through a tale of fish walking, apes growing tall, stars falling out of the sky, tears rolling into the ocean and all sorts else. This rocking as you got ready to take apart defences with Ronaldinho or run through opposition teams on Beginner difficulty in Be a Pro mode was something else.

FIFA 10

The Enemy – ‘Be Somebody’

DK: This Coventry outfit were once seen as part of the future of British indie music, before rapidly falling off after their outstanding debut We’ll Live and Die in These Towns. Their follow-up, Music for the People, was panned (rightly so), but this track is arguably the sole saving grace. A punchy opening riff is followed by a typically Enemy chorus, featuring typically aspirational lyrics. Also featured as part of ITV’s FA Cup coverage for a time, this song absolutely screams football. I spent a summer playing the old Manager Mode on my old 360 back in the day, and every time I play this track, I can see my virtual Sheffield Wednesday team bagging goals that almost certainly made no sense. This was proper FIFA.

Tommy Sparks – ‘She’s Got Me Dancing’

CM: This song was Tommy Sparks’ only single to chart in the UK, but what a single it is. It’s comfortably one of the catchiest songs from any FIFA soundtrack, and will have you singing its basically nonsense lyrics in your head for the rest of the day after hearing it. Although a far cry from some of the classic anthems by indie bands in earlier games, it was a strong addition to a relatively average soundtrack. Someone find that man wherever he is, and give him a Grammy.

FIFA 11

Mark Ronson – ‘Record Collection’ (ft. Simon Le Bon & Wiley)

DK: A track that has ended up being one of my favourites of all time, this song transcends genres to bring a masterpiece to a real classic FIFA. Mark Ronson drops lines with his trademark cutting wit and arrogance like they’re going out of fashion, whilst Duran Duran‘s Simon Le Bon absolutely belts out the chorus. The crowning jewel of the track is the eight lines supplied by Wiley, who reminds us that there was an incredibly talented artist before he ruined his career with *that* anti-Semitic rant. I went through a real phase of playing FIFA 11 again recently, and while the gameplay doesn’t quite hold up compared to the more modern editions, the soundtrack more than makes up for it because of gems like this belter.

Two Door Cinema Club – ‘I Can Talk’

CM: Now a household name, this single from TDCC’s debut album fits the typical FIFA sound perfectly. The indie-pop sound makes it a readymade FIFA song, and it’s no surprise that the song remains a favourite to this day. The hypnotic dance beat made it unskippable when playing it back in the day, and sounds arguably like the most stereotypical FIFA song there could be. The only song on that album that didn’t end up as Inbetweeners filler music.

FIFA 12

The Strokes – ‘Macchu Picchu’

DK: Anyone who knows me knows I’m a massive, massive fan of all things The Strokes, and this track is no different. Taken from their 2011 comeback album Angles, lead singer Julian Casablancas and his ever-nasal vocals bring a song dripping in character. This track was actually my introduction to The Strokes, so I’m a bit biased here, but I can still picture myself banging in goals with Rafael Van der Vaart whenever I hear it, so it beats off strong competition from Grouplove, Chase & Status and others.

Foster the People – ‘Call It What You Want’

CM: This was a tough call given it appeared on one of the all-time greatest FIFA soundtracks. FIFA 12 had some classics, including ‘Got It All’, ‘Colours’, ‘Wreckin’ Bar’ and ‘Latino & Proud’, but for me this one is the quintessential FIFA tune from the soundtrack. Clearly someone working on the game agreed, as the band better known for ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ was featured again on FIFA 15. The brilliant chorus and upbeat melody have made it a memorable one for years after its appearance in the game.

FIFA 13

The Presets – ‘Ghosts’

DK: This is just such a FIFA track. I’m not sure whether it’s the vaguely nonsense lyrics, the anthemic style, the obscure artist, or a combination of all three, but this just absolutely hits the spot. I’m sure most people reading this are picturing sweaty Brazilian squads, and rightly so. This is getting towards the golden era of FIFA, when life seemed that bit more simple, complete with KSI doing his ‘Road to Division 1’, before he decided he was a rapper/boxer/author/whatever else. Everything here comes together to create something absolutely evocative of different times.

Kasabian – ‘Club Foot’

CM: Ask any long time FIFA player about their favourite songs from the series, and this is bound to get a mention. The heavy drums and bass make it unforgettable and the sort of anthem that made FIFA soundtracks such a key part of the games. Although its wider success has perhaps removed its status as simply a ‘FIFA song,’ there is no doubt that for many it is synonymous with FIFA 13.

FIFA 14

Miles Kane – ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’

DK: Another track where my own biases have arguably beat off other soundtrack classics from artists like American Authors, Disclosure and Foals, this is still however an absolute singalong anthem from arguably the king of singalong anthems. This is one of the last great indie tracks to grace FIFA, with a strong riff and Miles Kane‘s Wirral-tinged vocals combining to add a real taste of the British music scene to a soundtrack increasingly dominated by American artists. Check out my interview with Miles Kane here.

John Newman – ‘Love Me Again’

CM: In my opinion, there is no debate for the most iconic song from this game, which is saying something considering how strong the soundtrack was. Like ‘Club Foot’, the song was a massive hit outside the game, but it doesn’t take away from just how well it suited the game. The song is big enough to still get the occasional play, and it immediately brings back memories of everything that was great about the game. 

FIFA 15

Avicii – ‘The Nights’

DK: Another utterly iconic tune, this time from the sadly-deceased Swedish DJ Avicii. I remember hearing this so many times as a young lad playing a ridiculous amount of hours of FIFA 15. To this day, whenever I hear this song, I can see Gervinho, Tevez, Biabiany, Hernanes, Doumbia and every other member of that absolutely beautiful Series A team that everyone seemed to have that year. Featuring that classic half-folk, half-house sound that Avicii seemed to trademark in the 2010s, the uplifting chorus is absolutely perfect for a game like FIFA, especially one of the classics in FIFA 15. Arguably the best ever.

Photo: Dan Knight @ The Mancunion

Saint Motel – ‘My Type’

CM: This is much more of a typical FIFA song, with an upbeat introduction with trumpets and a fast melody. Although its lyrics are hardly the most inspired, the catchy rhythm and instant recognisability of the song made it an instant favourite with so many players. Songs like this and ‘Busy Earnin’’ by Jungle were what made this soundtrack slightly different to previous years, and helped set the mood for what was most people’s favourite game from the series.

FIFA 16

John Newman – ‘Tiring Game’ (ft. Charlie Wilson)

DK: We really are in the golden age of FIFA music here, with John Newman and Charlie Wilson giving us a timeless anthem. As soon as Wilson starts the opening lines, you’re taken back in time, to a place before Croqueta spams and endless Vinicius cards. The powerful chorus sends me straight to career mode – this tune soundtracked me taking Huddersfield from bottom half championship to Champions League winners, and I’d like to think it at least partially inspired that success. Banger.

Foals – ‘Mountain at My Gates’

CM: Mountain at My Gates’ is typical of the indie sound that made up the majority of FIFA’s soundtracks, particularly in the early years. Clearly Foals’ sound is one that those at FIFA feel is perfect for the game, as ‘Mountain at My Gates’ is one of four Foals songs that have appeared in the series. The arena pop sound that Foals adopted in the mid-2010s suits the more chilled out feel of FIFA 16’s soundtrack in lieu of overly upbeat or high tempo filled tracks.

FIFA 17

Kasabian – ‘Comeback Kid’

DK: You can’t talk FIFA tracks without having some Kasabian in there. No band can really create as many anthems to remind you of the game and football in general as the lads from Leicester. From the second the opening riff gets going, it’s impossible to not know this is one of their tracks, and their traditional anthemic chorus just adds to how good it sounds. This does beat off strong competition, but in the end, I couldn’t look past it.

Saint Motel – ‘Move’

CM: This soundtrack saw a clear step down in quality compared to those on the games from the mid-2000s to 2015. However, Saint Motel’s second feature in the FIFA series felt reminiscent of the series in its prime with an upbeat and triumphant melody, likely needed as a pick up after sampling the gameplay. The song’s tempo changes, interspersed with a joyous chorus, make it a solid listen.

Photo: @greatbritish.memes @ Instagram

FIFA 18

The National – ‘The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness’

DK: Another choice based more on my own personal preferences as opposed to it being the best FIFA-style song, this smooth track from American rockers The National is absolutely brilliant nonetheless. Slow, brooding verses lead each time into a quicker, more melodic chorus, whilst the backing is a stripped back, almost electronic sound. This comes from my favourite FIFA of all time, and arguably the last actual good game to be released. Hearing this track, I can see Ivan Perisic and Inaki Williams scoring at the back-post, FUTMAS Carroll bagging bullet headers and Isco netting screamers. What a time to be alive.

Avelino – ‘Energy’ (ft. Stormzy & Skepta)

CM: In recent games, there has been an increased inclusion of UK rap, and this song is a good example of why. It was the perfect song to get you fired up for FUT, and a welcome injection of ‘energy’ into the soundtrack. The quick tempo and brilliant first verse from Avelino meant it blew many of the indie songs on the soundtrack out of the water. Don’t show up to their show if you’ve got no energy.

FIFA 19

Sam Fender – ‘Play God’

DK: What a tune. What a bloke. What a choice for the soundtrack. For the first few weeks of FIFA 19, it was all fun and games, bagging bicycle kicks and ridiculous headers like you were prime Zlatan, all to the tune of one of the best tracks from Geordie songsmith Sam Fender‘s debut album. This song was, for a lot of people, their introduction to Fender, and he’s since established himself as arguably the biggest young artist in the UK right now. But before all the hype and stadium gigs, we had this moment of magic.

easy life – ‘Pockets’

CM: At the time that this song first appeared on the game, easy life were a relatively unknown group. However, the song’s popularity on the game definitely played a part in the band’s growth in 2019, and it’s easy to see why. The song sounded different to what had come before it due to its blend of different genres, and it stands alone as a genuinely great song outside of FIFA.

FIFA 20

P Money & Giggs – ‘Where and When?’

DK: A track which best symbolises the shift away in FIFA soundtracks from being rock/indie focused towards a more contemporary sound, two of the UK’s finest MCs combine to produce something dripping in menace and heavy beats. With Teddy providing the perfect production, these two heavyweights did their best to salvage what was a pretty terrible game with an unbelievable tune. This just reminds me of being sat during the first lockdown with the window open and the heat rolling in playing endless FUT Drafts, only before it all got a bit boring being sat at home.

Skepta – ‘Same Old Story’

CM: The appearance of this song in FIFA marked another turning point for the game’s sound, with the inclusion of a modern grime song. This was a bold move given the fact this would be unfamiliar to many outside the UK, but Skepta’s flow and typically brilliant lyrics made it a popular choice. By FIFA 20, the indie genre no longer held a monopoly on the soundtracks, and although for many this has been a negative, if it had been replaced by more songs like this it would be hard to complain.

FIFA 21

Glass Animals – ‘Heat Waves’

DK: Wow. What a tune. This is a track that is unmatched for the amount of times I’ve heard one of my mates sing along to it in our Xbox party. Glass Animals‘ first number one hit was for me, the only possible choice here. Another track that accompanied endless lockdown FUT Drafts, and one of the few things that distracted me from another year of poor-quality gameplay, as well as the outside world seemingly ending during the peak of COVID winter. We’ll always have those late nights in the middle of June though.

Celeste – ‘Stop This Flame’

CM: Celeste was another artist who’s rise to fame coincided with an appearance on FIFA, however the two are likely very little to do with each other. Celeste’s voice and blues-influenced style is weirdly perfect for the game given the diversity of genres that are in recent soundtracks. Listening to this song makes it very easy to understand why Celeste grew so quickly.

FIFA 22

Statik Selektah – ‘Watch Me’ (ft. Joey Bada$$)

This track is admittedly picked from quite a poor choice of songs, but it is still a quality tune in its own right. With Statik Selektah‘s smooth production accompanied by Joey Bada$$ sounding like Q-Tip in his prime, ‘Watch Me’ is a song that accompanies the best FIFA made in a few years. Lobbing balls into the box for Calvert-Lewin and Origi to head home wouldn’t be complete without this pounding in the menus between games. The best hip-hop track to ever make FIFA.

Yard Act – ‘The Overload’

CM: This was a surprise inclusion for a FIFA soundtrack, given the size of the band at the time as well the style of music. However, it was a stroke of genius from whoever selected the song as it sounds like it’s from one of the classic FIFAs and a partial return to the high-tempo indie rock that dominates the earlier soundtracks. Although one of the few guitar songs on FIFA’s most recent soundtrack, it holds its own against some strong additions from Joy Crookes and Little Simz. Check out the recent Mancunion interview with Yard Act here.

 

Tags: FIFA, Football, Soundtrack, soundtracking

Dan Knight

Self-proclaimed music expert from Sheffield, articles may contain North/South bias.
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