And now for the national anthems... a 2018 FIFA World Cup playlist

The World Cup is not only about football. In fact for the England team, at least until now, it seemingly hasn't been about football for quite a long time.

No, without wanting to come across all 'bohemian flower child' about it, these tournaments are as much a pass-the-parcel of culture as they are about 22 grown men chasing a bag of wind.

So once the 32 nations had their places in Russia confirmed, naturally our minds turned to music. What has Mexicans moving? What has the Japanese jigging? What exactly gets played at a Danish disco?

There are, of course, tracks on this playlist we've long had filling our test rooms - but there are more still for which we've had to dig.

So join us on our trip around the globe, and please stand for the alternative national anthems.

You can also find our 2018 FIFA World Cup playlist on Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal.

MORE: How to watch the World Cup - TV, 4K, online, mobile

Group A


Heavy Wave by Motorama

Modern Russian post-punk, just sweet enough to forget about any frosty international relationships ...

Buy Poverty by Motorama from Amazon

Saudi Arabia

Emta ana Ashofek by Etab

Though she actually died an Egyptian citizen, Etab was the first popular female singer Saudi Arabia took to its heart.


Palmyra by Nadah El Shazly

This track, from El Shazly's debut record, swaggers with an infectious organ hook it's difficult to shake for a good while after you've heard it.

Buy Ahwar by Nadah El Shazly from Amazon


Muy Lejos Te Vas by El Kinto

From a short-lived but pioneering band, this one sounds a bit like The Byrds after Spanish lessons.

Buy Complete Collection by El Kinto from Amazon

Group B


Solteiro by DJ Lycox

While a Fado shanty may have been a more obvious pick, we went for some African-influenced Batida music as a more upbeat celebration of modern Portuguese culture.

Buy Sonhos & Pesadelos by DJ Lycox from Amazon


Bamboo by Hinds

Infectious indie-pop from the most famous of Spain's thriving scene.

Buy Leave Me Alone by Hinds from Amazon


Mimoun Marhaba by Mahmoud Guinia

Made with English musician Floating Points, Mimoun Marhaba represents one of Guinia's last recordings and is an interesting mix of traditional Gwana music and contemporary Western electronic sounds.


The Chair She Sat In by Siavash Amini

Ambient drone from a man who has been described as the Iranian Brian Eno.

So questing are we, our pick isn't even on YouTube anymore - so we've had to improvise with another track from the album for the purposes of this article. You can hear The Chair She Sat In on our Spotify and Tidal playlists.

Group C


Initials B.B. by Serge Gainsbourg

Gainsbourg singing about his fleeting affair with Brigitte Bardot. What could be more French? Well, only this video.

Initials B.B. also samples Antonín Dvořák's Ninth Symphony, From The New World, which is fairly forward-thinking for 1968.

Buy Initials B.B. by Serge Gainsbourg on Amazon


Sleep Drifter by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

Representing Australia's glorious psych revival, Sleep Drifter comes from the album Flying Microtonal Banana for which King Gizzard explored microtonal tunings (where an octave is split into 24 quarter-notes).

Buy Flying Microtonal Banana by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard from Amazon


Constelación by Los Destellos

The foremost purveyors of Chicha music, which is Peru's psychadelic take on Cumbia. With more than 90 members since forming in 1966, Los Destellos are known as the University of Peruvian Cumbia.

Buy The Roots of Chicha 2 from Amazon


Rehearsal by Ekko

Known largely in Denmark for his film and television compositions, Frithjof Toksvig uses the moniker Ekko for his equally stunning solo works.

Buy Any Given Sunday / I Know I am Human by Ekko from Amazon

Group D


Rosa, Rosa by Sandro

A heart-throb of the '60s and '70s, known as the Argentinian Elvis, Sandro is What Hi-Fi?'s latest crush.

Buy Lo Mejor by Sandro from Amazon


re:member by Ólafur Arnalds

A What Hi-Fi? favourite offering a much-needed cold shower following our date with Sandro.

Shop Ólafur Arnalds on Amazon


Falling In by Petar Dundov

A slice of sun, sand and slijvovica. Dundov says: "Techno is music that precedes movement. It is solid enough to carry emotions through the dance floor, abstract enough to be a template forever."

Shop Petar Dundov on Amazon


Only You by Steve Monite

Classic Nigerian boogie, and also probably the finest bass line ever written.

Buy Only You by Steve Monite from Amazon

Group E


A Minha Menina by Os Mutantes

Os Mutantes' best-known track outside Brazil, having been covered by The Bees, is as infectious as they come.

Buy Os Mutantes by Os Mutantes from Amazon


Raum by Grauzone

Some choice '80s post-punk straight out of Berne.

Shop Grauzone on Amazon

Costa Rica

The Feel by Los Robertas

Costa Rica is another Spanish-speaking country with a strong indie scene, and Los Robertas are among its most successful.

Download Waves of the New by Las Robertas from Amazon


Suzeni Snovi by Repetitor

Serbia's Turbo-Folk can be the stuff of Eurovision nightmares, but thankfully Repetitor are there to put out some pretty decent, dark alt-rock.

Shop Repetitor on Amazon

Group F


The Model by Kraftwerk

World champions. It had to be The Model.

Buy The Man Machine by Kraftwerk from Amazon


Maquina Del Ritmo by Bufi

Italo-disco-infused electro. Nice, upbeat and shorts-weather-ready.

Shop Bufi on Amazon


Sagres by The Tallest Man On Earth

For us, it was only ever to be ABBA, The Hives or Kristian Matsson, better known by the moniker The Tallest Man On Earth.

Buy Dark Bird is Home by The Tallest Man On Earth from Amazon

South Korea

"J" Blues 72 by Shin Joong Hyun

Korea's Godfather of Rock was at the forefront of the country's psych scene in the '60s and '70s, and we can see why.

Buy 1958-1974 Beautiful Rivers and Mountains – The Psychedelic Rock Sound of Shin Joong Hyun from Amazon

Group G


Is It Always Binary by Soulwax

Because, well, Soulwax.

Buy FROM DEEWEE by Soulwax from Amazon


Plastico by Rubén Blades

As Central American as it comes, basically, but with a great funky intro.

Buy Siembra by Willie Colón and Rubén Blades from Amazon


Wazzaa by Bargou 08

With Bargou 08, Nidhal Yahyaoui reimagines ancient Tunisian folk music with an electronic bent.

Again, we can't find Wazzaa on YouTube, but you can get a taste for Bargou 08 by listening to our pick on our Spotify and Tidal playlists.


Age of Consent by New Order

They did the song for Italia 90. England made the semis. This is a better song. See you in Moscow.

Buy Power, Corruption & Lies by New Order from Amazon

Group H


Bailando by Earth Trax & Newborn Jr

Two of the country's finest producers with a real ucho-robak, which, Google Translate reliably informs us, is Polish for ear-worm.


Ayo Ayo Nene by Mor Thiam

Father of Akon, master of the drum.

Buy Dini Safarrar by Mor Thiam from Amazon


Tipit Hayed by Wganda Kenya

An Afro-Colombian release from Discos Fuentes, the country's first notable record label.


Moonlight by Masayoshi Fujita

Ticking our boxes for both vibraphone and Erased Tapes releases.

Get a taste of what Fujita is capable above, then head to either our Spotify or Tidal playlist to hear Moonlight in full.

Buy Apologues by Masayoshi Fujita from Amazon


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