On Association

Cap had the following to say in the comments under one of his recent posts:

I know I love the music of the 80s and I definitely prefer it to the sounds of the 70s. This is due to my love of synthetic instruments rather than some sort of rock backlash. This is also due to (of all things) Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, which was wall-to-wall 80s tunes and when you put 100+ hours into something with that soundtrack, you’re either going to perform a self-lobotomy the next time “Obsession” hits your ears or you’re going to flashback to a neon-lit faux-Miami and smile. Everyone else’s mileage will greatly vary.

I experience the same when I hear certain songs and flashback to soccer highlight reels I’ve watched on YouTube when those clips provided me with an introduction to those songs, even though their origins have nothing to do with soccer. These YouTube videos also put me in touch with (mostly pop) artists I would have been unlikely to seek out on my own.

I really like the way Olympic Lyonnais and French national team keeper Hugo Lloris plays. Lloris seems to move and carry himself slightly differently, more delicately, than most professional athletes. There is a noticeable fluidity and grace to his saves, all the more impressive as goal keeping is an exercise in reaction conducted via short explosive movements as opposed to anything choreographed. On a very basic level, the goal is too large for one player to defend, even with the use of their hands, so the keeper’s job is first to delay a potential shot until reinforcements arrive and only to dictate play when no other options are available.

This highlight reel, set to the Killer’s On Top is cut with a number of shots of Lloris off the field and pays some attention to atmosphere as well. The shots of the rainy night sky in Lyon fit in well. It’s difficult to make a highlight reel for a goal keeper. The usual approach of sporting highlight reels emphasizing aggression and dominance doesn’t really apply to a profession that requires it’s practitioners to spend a majority of their time waiting, surveying the field and then reacting to their opponents while most of the time not coming into physical contact with them.

Contrast the above to another highlight reel cut for Lloris which features the Prodigy’s Invaders Must Die. The delivery of the titular line seems out of place. Keeper’s are more akin to doctors who are concerned with the preservation of life and have pledged to first do no harm, than they are to soldiers or anyone else that would be killing invading forces (this song would probably be more apt for defensive midfielders or center backs). The song doesn’t entirely fail as a musical selection, however. The minor key of the song intro does tie in well with the ominous nature of the keeper serving as the very last line of defense, and if you were going to cast a keeper as the star of a popcorn action flick, they’d undoubtedly be introduced in the trailer as “one man…” I’d flash the following quote on the sceen just as the title credits had finished, to set the story:

They also call him doorman, keeper, goalie, bouncer or netminder, but he could just as well be called martyr, pay-all, penitent or punching bag. They say where he walks, the grass never grows. Eduardo Galeano, Soccer in Sun and Shadow

Switching from players to teams, two notable seasons in Tottenham Hotspur history have been fused with particular songs in my mind.  The 2008-2009 season began as the worst in over eighty years. The team was being managed by a Spaniard named Juande Ramos who despite taking a job in North London, did not quite speak conversational English. Sitting at the bottom of the league table after their first eight matches with the probability of being involved in a season long battle to avoid relegation seeming more and more realistic, the club jettisoned Ramos for East End wide boy ‘Arry Redknapp. The club would win their match against Bolton at home, go on to tie their local rivals Arsenal away in notable last minute fashion, and beat a then undefeated Liverpool in their first three matches under Redknapp. The following paints the Cockney manager as gunslinger, not inappropriate given his working class roots, in the 2008-2009 highlight reel Rattlin’ Spurs. Bonus points for the wide aspect ratio.

Skip forward a season and Redknapp does better than expected. Aided by Liverpool’s collapse, Redknapp steered the club to fourth place and their first ever appearance in the European Champions League, after years of fifth place finishes that merely flirted with doing so. The highlight reel is set to Florence & the Machine’s Dog Days Are Over, fitting as a release of the frustration of seasons past and of the club’s new found hope for the future.

I can’t help but think back to Lloris’ form and Tottenham’s seasons past when I hear these songs, even if the artists intended nothing of the sort.

/s/Mohammed Chang


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