TOP TEN: Songs that definitely have absolutely nothing to do with a major international football tournament

The men’s FIFA world cup in Qatar will start in less than two weeks. Unrelated to that happening, here are ten songs that I’ve chosen for no particular reason.

1. Stereophonics – Local Boy in the Photograph

‘Clocks go back / Railway track / It’s that time of year again’

Ah youthful nostalgia for this time of year. Half term. Halloween. Bonfire night. Very different from the middle of summer. Meanwhile in Qatar, November means the World Cup, despite the inconvenient interruption to the regular football season.

2. The Streets – Not Addicted

‘Now I don’t know the first thing about football’

Mike Skinner is out and about with the lads and fancies sticking some bets on down the bookies. He freely admits to his lack of knowledge, but it’s a game of chance after all, isn’t it? What refreshing honesty from a young urban male in England. Meanwhile in Qatar, a country with a rich footballing tradition going back several hours, there appears to be no such humility.

3. Specials – Too Hot

‘Too hot / This town is too hot’

Getting a bit chilly outside isn’t it. Alright if you’re running around playing football though. Treated myself to a couple of hours of the thermostat at 18 this evening. Nice and toasty. Tomorrow it’s forecast to be 35 degrees in Doha, capital city of Qatar. Too hot mate. Run around for 90 minutes? No chance.

4. Burning Spear – Slavery Days

‘Do you remember the days of slavery?’

Fortunately in 2022 the answer to Mr Spear’s question is “no, it was fucking ages ago. Thank God”. Amnesty International on the other hand answered: “Some [migrant workers in Qatar] are being subjected to forced labour. They can’t change jobs, they can’t leave the country and they often wait months to get paid.”

5. Tom Robinson Band – Glad to be Gay

‘Don’t try to kid us that if you’re discreet / You’re perfectly safe if you walk down the street’

Tom tells of some shocking experiences in this song. It’s a reminder for us all that while everything is far from perfect we’ve come a long way in the last 50 years. There’s progress in Qatar too. Despite homosexuality being illegal, some hotels for football fans have said they will welcome bookings from same-sex couples providing they hide their relationship in public.

6. KURUPT FM – It’s a Kuruption Ting

‘Its / A / Kurup / Tion / Ting’

Is this is the only song I could find with the word ‘corruption’ in the title? Yes. Why did I include it in this list? No reason at all.

7. Barrett Strong – Money (That’s What I Want)

‘Whole lot of money / That’s what I want’

It’s reasonable to assume that Barrett wrote this song to relate to being in a position of poverty. The CEO of the Qatar World Cup, Nasser Al-Khater, said he expects to reap profits of up to $9 billion from organising the 2022 World Cup.

8. Sober – Lorde

‘But what will we do when we’re sober?’

Unlike some countries at this year’s World Cup, for example the hosts, there are rare opportunities on offer to improve your nation’s reputation. England fans not getting hammered and fighting is actually a good thing.

9. Beyoncé – Run The World (Girls)

‘Disrespect us, no they won’t’

Remember when Solange slapped Jay-Z in the lift? It was because he said Beyoncé needed his permission to get a driving licence, travel abroad to study, to get legal rights over her own children and to access reproductive healthcare. Sorry, did I say Beyoncé? I meant women in Qatar.

10. King Tubby – Human Rights Dub

Can you still hear me labouring my point over the sound of a barrel being scraped?

Words by James Spearing

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