Friday, June 6, 2008

Shaggy's Euro 2008 Anthem: A Brief Critical Analysis


In light of the antagonism already brewing among some the participating countries in this year's European Championships, it is a relief we can turn to the dulcet thumpings of the Euro 2008 Anthem for guidance in what may be a long and often tense tournament. Shaggy's previous sport-related anthem for the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2007, titled "The Game of Love and Unity," quietly helped mend the wounds left from that incredibly controversial event.

This year may be no different. Shaggy's "Like a Superstar" touches on themes of unity in sport and overcoming ethnic/cultural differences through the power of football. UEFA's smartly produced accompanying video (the music and images cannot be separated whilst we disrupt the gesamtkunstwerk) features the delightful antics of of Trix and Flix, two Austrian brothers who overcame the ravaging effects of giganticism to pursue a life of freelance football-themed breakdancing.

The video starts quietly enough with a picturesque Austrian villa high up in the alps. Trix and Flix emerge from the window (looking to the dawn of a new day in Europe?) looking much the same in appearance with subtle differences in colour. What they are in fact is an expression of the postmodern concept of 'sameness'. As Peter Burger, professor at the University of Bremen, points out in his seminal 1987 essay, "Der Alltag, Der Allegorie und die Avantgarde"

"Universalizing of the citation, allegory without referent, emancipation of the signifier, art merging with a wholly aestheticized everyday experience—all these attempts at defining postmodernism have on thing in common: they assert the leveling of opposites. (196)"

Trix and Flix are a symbol of this postmodern leveling of opposites. Shaggy's chorus enforces this theme, which repeats almost ad nauseum the words, "sounds like you're a superstar, it don't matter who ya are," a radical overthrowing of the previous hegemonic order where stardom in football was enslaved to overbearing concepts like skill, talent, goalscoring etc. As Darrent Bent, Euro 2004 and the entire starting eleven for the Swiss national team illustrate, football is no longer a showcase of skill but rather a monochrome, room temperature exposition of a middle-of-the-road kick-about, as it should be.

The lack of development, variation, theme and tone colour of the accompanying music also reinforce the hope that, one day, "winning," much like musical expressiveness, will be a curious by-product of a woebegone past. Virtuosic musicianship, much like individual style in football, will be ridiculed for its roots in phallic-aggressive warfare. The song is a mouth-watering sign of wonderful things to come. Thank you Shaggy and thank you Flix and Trix. Here's hoping your enlarged polyester dopplegangers will frighten small children and dogs for the duration of the tournament as they mope around stadia across Austria and Switzerland.

1 comment:

fredorrarci said...

Oh, Shaggy: it's been all downhill since Boombastic, hasn't it?

It's actually "act like you're a superstar", which ties in even more closely with what you say. If you act like one, you are one, right?

Notice as well how, in that pure, unspoilt idyll, they're shooting into an old-fashioned goal: wooden, square and totally defenceless. The inevitabilty of the transition into the new order is reinforced as these spiky-haired, squad-numbered automatons are, on celebrating their goal against a long-disappeared opposition, transported into the bright new today, into the perfect arena for their meaningless, white-noise athleticism. Room temperature, indeed.