Shortcut Series – World Cup Special: Spain

Posted by Dominic | June 25, 2014 | NEWS, Uncategorized

Deezer Shortcut WC Spain

They may have been knocked out of this year’s World Cup in the group stages, but Spain have been a truly formidable force in world football for the last decade or so. They’ve produced some fine players (and Fernando Torres), but the beauty of the Spanish football team is that it has always been greater than the sum of its parts. And Spain has plenty to offer musically as well – below we take a look at some essential Spanish artists from the past few decades…


It’s hard to believe it now, given their dominance over the last few years, but the Spanish national team wasn’t much of a force to be reckoned with throughout the latter half of the 20th century. La Roja only qualified for one major international tournament in the Seventies, the 1978 World Cup in Argentina – and even then they were knocked out in the group stages.

It was around this time that one of the most successful Spanish flamenco guitarists of all time was gaining popularity. In 1973 Paco de Lucía, described by Eric Clapton as a “titanic figure in the world of flamenco guitar”, released one of his most acclaimed albums, Fuente Y Caudal. On it was the track ‘Entre dos Aguas’ which, with its infectious rumba rhythm and lightning-fast guitar runs, became one of his most well-known songs. Paco de Lucía sadly passed away earlier this year, but his influence will continue to be felt for quite some time.

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Spain’s lack of success on the international stage didn’t prevent them from hosting the World Cup in 1982. Hopes for a successful campaign were high, but Spain’s second round tie pitted them against Belgium, who clearly hadn’t read the script. Spain were knocked out on penalties, and the Spanish manager José Santamaría was sacked soon after.

However, Spanish music was becoming increasingly popular around the globe at the time, largely thanks to Julio José Iglesias de la Cueva, better known simply as Julio Iglesias. The most successful Latin recording artist of all time (and former Real Madrid goalkeeper), he scored a UK number one single in December 1981 with ‘Volver a Empezar (Begin the Beguine)’. He went on to sell over 100 million records worldwide – although he never reached the top of the UK charts again.

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The 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea was another one to forget for Spain – but this time through no fault of their own. After winning every game in their group and beating Ireland in the second round, they came up against South Korea in the quarter finals. Thanks to some very questionable refereeing decisions (far from the only case of the co-hosts benefiting from suspect officiating in this tournament) Spain were eliminated on penalties, having had two perfectly good goals ruled out by the Eygptian referee Gamal Al-Ghandour.

But it wasn’t all bad news. The early 21st century saw a worldwide renaissance for Latin music, with the likes of Shakira, Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin breaking through into the international mainstream. Spain’s biggest export at this time was Enrique Iglesias, who released Escape, his second English-language album, in October 2001. If Iglesias had been following in his father Julio’s footsteps up until now, Escape saw him going one better by topping both the UK albums chart and the UK singles chart simultaneously – almost exactly twenty years after ‘Begin The Beguine’.

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With their victory at the 2012 European Championships, their third major international tournament in succession, La Furia Roja cemented their status as one of the best teams of the century. As kings of the tiki taka system of play – the most effective setup since the totaalvoetbal system practised by the Dutch in the ‘70s the Spanish reigned supreme for over half a decade, remaining undefeated for 35 consecutive matches between 2006 and 2009. 

2012 also saw the release of ƒIN, the debut album from Barcelona producer John Talabot. The music world was really taking notice of Barcelona by this point, partly thanks to the attention garnered by international music festivals such as Sónar and Primavera Sound, and partly thanks to superb local artists such as Talabot. Just as comfortable in Berlin as in Barcelona, he is one of the most inventive producers around – and ƒIN remains one of the most accomplished electronic debuts of the decade.

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Want to dig a little deeper? Check out the playlist below…

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