A new FIFA game is only as good as its soundtrack. With FIFA 20 set to release worldwide this week, we take a look back at some of our favorite songs from years past that conjure memories of childhood and triumph, but mostly frustration.
The most recognizable soccer video game of all time (sorry PES fans), FIFA has captivated fans and gamers alike for over a quarter century. The franchise’s next installment, FIFA 20, will make its long awaited debut this week, and while many (us included) are eagerly anticipating the return of its street mode, we’re also amped for the new lineup of songs set to feature on its soundtrack.
Sure, FIFA’s numerous game modes may be its main draw, but the introduction of all-new features like Volta are few and far between. Soundtracks are new every year, and the nostalgic value they carry subconsciously sticks with us — so much so that one song can elicit joyous (or painful) memories from countless childhood FIFA matches.
FIFA 20’s soundtrack has been released, and while there’s some promising tracks on it from artists like Loyle Carner, Goldlink, and Tierra Whack, we’ve yet to see if they’ll fit in with the gameplay. As we await to get our hands on the latest installment, we take a look back at some of our favorite songs from editions past.
Andrew Mitchell: “Jackie Chan” — Bantu and Dr. Chaii (FIFA 19)
If the title alone doesn’t make you smile, then you have a lot of movies to catch up on. “Jackie Chan” follows in the footsteps of the international slappers that have featured in FIFAs over the years, and provides nice context to the growing popularity of African music in America. While Burna Boy’s Nigerian dancehall fusion is the dominant force in what we consider Afro beats, the Zimbabwean duo of Bantu and Dr. Chaii use their appearance in FIFA 19 to make sure we wiggle our way to a more complete picture of music from the continent.
Patti Sanchez: “Tell Her Tonight” — Franz Ferdinand (FIFA 2005)
Now this isn’t my favorite Franz Ferdinand song, but it’s perfect for a lively match of FIFA with your mates. Hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, Franz Ferdinand is always great for tunes that are fast, loud, and highly danceable, and “Tell Her Tonight” is delightfully unhinged and quite appropriate for a rowdy night of goal scoring and trash talking.
Austin Boaman: “Helicopter” — Bloc Party (FIFA 06)
FIFA 06 was the first FIFA game that I ever owned, so the soundtrack has a special place in my heart. Whenever the opening guitar riff of Helicopter plays it immediately takes me back to 13-year-old Austin sitting by my TV in the garage, arguing with my brother about who got to play with Ronaldinho’s Barcelona. Whoever won that argument usually won the match — there was absolutely no stopping a 95-overall Ronaldinho. If this was the song that played when you first got to the home screen you knew it was going to be a good few hours.
Thomas Clark: “Flight 643” — DJ Tiësto (FIFA 2002)
While most nostalgia surrounding DJ Tiesto’s “Flight 643” revolves around nights spent at European clubs dancing until the sun comes up, mine lies in a night at home creating a 6-foot-4 phenom in FIFA 2002 as a 10-year-old. Now dated, the old PS2 game is graphically archaic and hard to watch from a gameplay standpoint. “Flight 643” though, remains timeless. Well actually it kind of sucks, but I liked it as a 10-year-old.
Kevin Vote: “Kids” — MGMT (FIFA 09)
While there are absolute bangers throughout FIFA’s soundtrack history, MGMT’s “Kids” from FIFA 09 is perhaps the most iconic. The song obviously had a lot of mainstream appeal before the game, but hearing it today only evokes memories of countless Manager Modes started, abandoned, and then later restarted. Sorry for failing you so many times, Queens Park Rangers.
Stephen Gray: “Song 2” — Blur (FIFA 98)
Perhaps not my favorite song ever across the FIFA titles (Austin beat me to “Helicopter”), but it sure has a huge amount of nostalgia. FIFA 98 was the first FIFA game I owned and played, and besides making me feel a bit old, the first thing that comes to mind when reminiscing on it is “Song 2.” It was just unavoidable from the get go off the title sequence. That “WHOOO HOOO!” chorus is iconic.
Victoria Hernandez: “Irish Blood, English Heart” — Morrissey (FIFA 05)
What defines English culture more than a classic Morrissey cut? The best FIFA soundtrack song is The Smiths’ frontman’s “Irish Blood, English Heart” from FIFA 05 because it perfectly represents the bigger culture of football. Morrissey’s mournful melodies paired with the racing guitar riffs create the ultimate motivational soundscape. I’m sorry, JPEGMAFIA. Yes, Morrissey is understandably controversial, but the impact he’s made on fans worldwide can’t be argued with.
Honorable Mentions: Hans Zimmer feat. Vince Staples “Champions Leauge Remix” because I’m obsessed with all things Vince and Louis The Child feat. K. Flay “It’s Strange” because it’s magical.
Ramsey Abushahla: “Dreaming” — Smallpools (FIFA 14)
Let me preface this by saying that I am absolute trash at FIFA. I’ve repressed most of the memories from my junior year of college because the pain from all of the 4-0 losses was just too much. Which makes the almost unbelievably upbeat and sing-songy vibe of “Dreaming” all the more haunting now that I think of it. It usually went something like this:
“Hey man, want to catch a quick game before class?” My roommate asks. Knowing what’s about to come next, the formation of a “no” begins to form on my lips, but then something inexplicable happens. The opening synth from “Dreaming” plays as the game hits its startup screen. “Yeah sure, why not.”
What’s your favorite FIFA soundtrack song of all time? Let us know in the comments below.