Juanes, The World Cup And Seven Great Soccer Songs : Alt.Latino In time for the World Cup, hear some of the greatest songs ever written about soccer on the first-ever episode of Alt.Latino, NPR's new Latin alternative music show. Also on this inaugural episode: an interview with superstar singer Juanes.

Juanes, The World Cup And Seven Great Soccer Songs

Hear The First Episode Of Alt.Latino, NPR's New Latin Alternative Music Show

Juanes, The World Cup And Seven Great Soccer Songs

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Superstar singer Juanes shares Alt.Latino's passion for music and soccer. courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Download The Full Interview With Juanes In Spanish

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Hear Juanes' "Yerbatero"

Like many Latin Americans who live in the U.S., I often find myself struggling to explain my passion for soccer. It's difficult to explain to those who are not fans the depths of this all-consuming passion.

For me, It's not a pastime. And don't say it's just a game: It's a way of life. In fact, it is life itself.

Music and soccer are joined at the hip, and fortunately, many great rock songs have been written about the beautiful game. They range from odes to team loyalty to complaints about annoying girlfriends who don't want to watch soccer matches. Here are a few of my favorites. --Jasmine Garsd

Today's theme song is "El Milagro Ruso" by the Argentine band La Cosa Mostra. For more about the band, click here. Please leave your thoughts on soccer, music, soccer-themed music, Juanes and the first-ever episode of Alt.Latino in the comments section below.

Below you'll find the full versions of the songs featured in today's show

Juanes, The World Cup And Seven Great Soccer Songs

Cover for Radiolina

La Vida Tombola

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La Vida Tombola

  • from Radiolina
  • by Manu Chao

The band Mano Negra eventually disintegrated, but lead singer Manu Chao went on to experience a brilliant solo career. He continued composing odes to soccer, including the beautiful "La Vida Tombola" (Life Is a Raffle). The equally melancholy video for the song shows the ups and the many, many downs of an embattled soccer player's life.

Manu Negra

We Are Fine

Santa Maradona

  • from Mejor de La Mano Negra
  • by Mano Negra

This song re-creates the adrenaline rush of being at an actual stadium for a match -- the yelling, the beating of drums and the ambulance sirens. "Santa Maradona is a tribute to controversial Argentine soccer icon Diego Maradona, who now coaches the Argentine soccer team.

Athena cover

We Are Fine


  • from Athena
  • by Athena

Soccer fans are insanely loyal to their teams. I don't think you find this kind of obsessive attachment anywhere else in life. "Holigan," by the Turkish ska/punk band Athena, is an anthem about that undying love. On top of heroic guitar riffs, lead singer Gokhan Ozoguz chants about following your team through thick and thin. Soccer martyrdom at its best.

You can hear "Holigan" on YouTube.

Cover for Circular Colectivo

Fut Callejero (Pura Diversión)

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Fut Callejero (Pura Diversion)

  • from Circular Colectivo
  • by Maldita Vecindad

Yes, the World Cup is one of the most exciting events ever. But few things beat the joy of playing soccer in your neighborhood, with your friends. It doesn't matter if the playing field is rocky or if your opponent's makeshift goal is suspiciously small. Maldita Vecindad's "Fut Callejero (Pura Diversion)" reflects the idea that the true soccer lover will always play as if he or she were competing in the World Cup final -- and getting paid like Beckham.

Music de Futbol

We Are Fine

Meio de Campo

  • from Música de Futebol
  • by Various Artists

Brazilian music icon Elis Regina could sing about having an ingrown toenail and still make it sound exciting. Check out her rendition of Gilberto Gil's "Meio de campo" ("Mid fielder"). This kittenish song stands out among all the other super-macho songs on this list. But don't let her playful tone fool you: She's singing about Afonsinho. Afonso Celso Garcia Reis was an amazing midfielder in the 1970s whose opposition to the country's ruling military dictatorship prevented him from joining the national team.

Africa Brasil cover

Ponta de Lança Africano (Umbabarauma)

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Ponta de Lança Africano (Umbabarauma)

  • from África Brasil
  • by Jorge Ben

It's not surprising that five-time World Cup winner Brazil has an enormous catalog of songs celebrating soccer. Rio de Janeiro-based singer Jorge Ben's "Ponta de Lança Africano (Umbabarauma)" is about an imaginary African player who is slick on the field. It's a funky mix of infectious guitar grooves, girl-group choirs and fantastic drum beats. Sounds like Shaft playing soccer.

The Hitchers

We Are Fine


  • from Strachan
  • by The Hitchers

This Irish band's ode to Scottish soccer player Gordon Strachan is also about an experience many of us soccer fans have had: a partner who doesn't share our love of soccer. Singer Andy Gallagher sings in exasperation about a lady friend who waits until the game begins to pick a fight.

Felix Contreras is an award-winning journalist who covers arts and culture. He plays congas and percussion when he's not interviewing people for NPR or hanging with his two young sons and his wife. Jasmine Garsd is an Argentine journalist. She loves music, soccer and good food; occasionally, if given enough wine, she will sing for Felix's band.