I told you, a football team only has 11 players, and in putting together my near perfect line-up for the land of Music I had to make a lot of hard choices. let’s not try to be complete here. I could come up with at least 100 artists I could also have added. Let’s just limit ourselves to the ones that almost made the cut, that were in my notebook and got scratched out at very last-minute, and let’s split between the ones I did not even select in the end, and the ones that are on my bench, as valuable substitutes.

Not selected

The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley. Clear case of being too good, too dominant, without a clear specialisation or unique skill.

Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa and Wire. No team players. Will destroy the team and probably not even accept a role as substitute. Would love to take them, they bring unique value, but I don’t think I can or should.

Jimi Hendrix. Too talented and too much of an individualist. Could play as a right-winger, but I think John Coltrane brings more variation, more swing, and plays more in service of the team.

Patti Smith. I just don’t know what to do with her, and I guess that’s also a quality. Doesn’t have enough speed for attack, not enough patience for defense. With her stamina and creativity she could be a good midfielder, but is she a team-player? I’m still not sure.

Public Image Ltd. & Suicide. I love those guys, I really do, but they only ever attack and neglect their defensive duties. Also collect too many red cards.

Joy Division. Einzelgänger. Need I say more?

Nirvana. Not good enough. I know it will hurt the feelings of a lot of fans, but I have The Pixies already, so why would I need Nirvana?

Max Richter, Terry Riley, William Basinski. Great in teams with more focus on control and deliberate, cautious action. In my ideal team they would just slow down the action.


As substitute goalkeepers I take Nina Simone and Bruce Springsteen. Both are reliable and command respect. Both have flair, albeit in a different way. Both are dynamic without being overtly flashy or demanding too much attention.

For my defense I first of all need to add some meanness. My line-up choice is technically gifted but maybe a bit too clean. I therefore take Lou Reed, Neil Young, The Ramones and Fela Kuti as substitute defenders. I also take Bob Marley if I need to play with a more creative, free defender to link defense with midfield. Finally I take St.Vincent because she has so much talent it would be stupid not to take her.

Midfield. For left side of midfield, I select Neu!, New Order and My Bloody Valentine as possible substitutes for Can. Neu! have more or less the same style as Can and can therefore replace them if they are having a bad day. New order bring more power and a more natural connection with Kraftwerk on the left. My Bloody Valentine are the even more powerful option when playing a very physical opponent,

For central midfield I can only change accents, not stray too far from dynamic, creative play. For this reason I select Roxy Music, Steve Reich, Radiohead and Prince. Roxy Music are closest to Bowie’s style of play, Steve Reich brings a more precise and minimal approach, whereas Prince and Radiohead add more swing and variation respectively.

For right side of midfield I select Aretha Franklin, Lana Del Rey and King Crimson. Aretha Franklin for her natural connection with Otis Redding on right side of defense, Lana Del Rey for control and stability, and King Crimson for power and surprise.

Finally attack. Iggy Pop is the most natural choice to break things open, when chaos and pure aggression are needed. The Clash and The Pixies can play on both left and right-wing, and will also bring power, excitement and speed. Arcade Fire and James Brown I bring in to replace Talking Heads and John Coltrane respectively, if needed.

That’s all, that completes my line-up and substitutes for the football team of the land of Music.