Examining the Phenomenon of the ‘FIFA Tune’

By Jack Lowe

One thing unites FIFA players, no matter if they are an ultimate team buff, a pack addict or a career mode only type – everyone has their favourite FIFA song. With the recent release of FIFA 20, a whole raft of songs have the chance to enter the pantheon of world renowned ‘FIFA tunes.’

Although it may seem strange that a video game about football has the chance to propel songs into the culture, for those playing the games regularly it’s no surprise. Cameron Law, a 21-year-old Strathclyde student and a dedicated player since FIFA 06 says: ‘These songs get so big because of the association. If you’re hearing all these songs while winning a career mode or just having fun on the game, they are going to stick with you.’

With roughly 45 million players, these songs have a captive audience that is an artist’s dream. It’s clear that a lot of thought goes into the soundtrack selections, and in a game which involves so much time in menus, picking teams or opening packs (and adjusting sliders for unsportsmanlike career mode cheats) the songs burrow themselves into the brains of millions of players.

FIFA soundtracks criss-cross the globe and draw from wildly different genres, giving the games an eclectic feel. Artists in recent years have come from all over. Elliphant from Sweden, Chinza Dopeness from Japan and Los Rakas from Panama sit in a playlist alongside more established artists like Vampire Weekend and Bloc Party.

Not only does the soundtrack feature artists from across the globe, but it also incorporates a variety of different languages. In the 2018 edition, Irish artist Outsider had a song, ‘Míol Mór Mara,’ which included verses in the Irish language. Songs like these are alien to the radio-listening British public who would struggle to hear anything not sung in English – so for FIFA to include songs like just goes to shows their commitment to a soundtrack that embraces all music.

Speaking to GQ magazine in 2015, Steve Schnur, president of EA Music Group said “We started in 2002, 2003 putting artists we believed in and thought were worth that real estate into [the games], early on with bands like Kings of Leon—the exposure was instant, and more importantly it was global.”

He emphasised the link to traditional footballing nations, continuing: “We’ve always paid a lot of attention to what was coming, musically speaking, out of Brazil and Argentina. No matter what their audience is, these countries have always meant so much to the sport.”

A global sport, a global video game, and a global soundtrack. They make it seem so easy.

The Reviews

Now comes the most important judgement of them all – of all of the songs within this rich tapestry of musical history, which comes up the king of the lot. Of course, there are hundreds to sift through and fierce debate to be had. To save time, I, Jack Lowe, have reached into the zeitgeist and asked some fellow soundtrack-heads for their picks to provide a snapshot review. Note that my judgement is final and not to be argued with. Note also that there is a strong FIFA 12/13 bias – again not to be argued with.

Foster the People – ‘Call It What You Want’ – an unqualified anthem, peak FIFA tune. All-time great.  9/10

Chase and Status- ‘No Problem’ – FIFA 12: Buttery smooth. 8/10

The Strokes – ‘Machu Pichu’ – FIFA 12 – Great song in and out of FIFA by one of the biggest bands of the 21st century. 9/10

Bomba Estéreo – ‘Soy Yo’ – FIFA 16: Feel good. Best tune in the FIFA canon to whistle. Plus 5 points for the band name, minus 5 for featuring in an annoying Samsung advert. 9/10

Sleep Alone – ‘Two Door Cinema Club’ – FIFA 13: Good, not great. 6/10

On Top of the World – ‘Imagine Dragons’ – FIFA 13: The band with maybe the most hate in the world. Irrelevant. Leave your hatred at the door. We don’t care if they are too mainstream for your cultured palette. A massive feelgood FIFA song. 9/10

Grouplove – ‘Colours (Captain Cutz remix)’ – FIFA 12: The pinnacle. It doesn’t get better than this folks. This is Federer at Wimbledon, Luis Suarez against Norwich, Michu in the 2012/2013 Premier League season. Greatness. 10/10