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Premier League Clubs and the Artists They Remind Us Of

American folk pop singer Bob Dylan at a press conference in London.   (Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images)

The Gaffer and I stay in constant communication throughout most weeks in hopes we can continue to develop relevant ideas into entertaining original content for EPL Talk. Some weeks are chock-full of story ideas because of the dramatic nature of the Premier League which makes our job slightly easier.

Other weeks we’ll spend the free time in between our full time day jobs racking our brains over interesting story lines in hopes we can continue to make EPL Talk the best Premier League blog around – a blog different from others with educated writers who have strong opinions, an engaging blog more exciting than just your run of the mill match reports, and a blog that promotes reader interaction in the form of discussion, debate and community.

While our love and passion for football remains unmatched as it pertains to other interests in our lives, The Gaffer and I share a love for many other hobbies including film, TV, books and popular music. It’s with that last interest that we’ve decided to do a comparative analysis (for lack of a better phrase) between football and music. More specifically, if all 20 Premier League clubs were bands or music groups, which ones would they be and why?

While the nature of this article is intended to be more fun and jovial than analytical or serious, there will be something to be gained from its contents as it pertains to certain themes, characteristics and the specific and glaring distinguishing factors we all garner from clubs in the Premier League. The comparisons will be broad in nature as they pertain to how both the club and artist have touched various elements of pop culture in both the UK and the States.

Adversely, if you’re not a seasoned Premier League fan and you have a decent knowledge of popular music, you’ll then quickly be able to utilize your knowledge of music to then learn something about the 20 Premier League clubs we’ll be discussing. As always, feel free to leave your own suggestions, thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.

  • Arsenal = Kanye West– Smooth as silk Arsenal are at their best when moving forward as a collective. Their progression and innovation make them one of the league’s best while Kanye West bears similar traits as an artist. Widely watched, often emulated but never duplicated by those attempting to, Arsenal embody much of what hip hop king Kanye West does in music. West, or Yeezy as he’s more affectionately known, is also at his best when those around him join in the party. For example, on Yeezy’s new album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, West shines on tracks All of the Lights and Lost in the World, both of which feature guests such as Rihanna and Bon Iver (the Alex Song and Jack Wilshere to Samir Nasri), while the album itself also includes Jay-Z, John Legend, Beyonce and Kid Cudi to name a few. When both are at their best, they’re highly entertaining, flashy and a joy to watch.
  • Aston Villa = The Streets– If Mike Skinner reads this, he’s bound to be a bit disappointed. Skinner is the brainchild behind popular UK grunge rap outfit The Streets, is a Brum boy, and a Birmingham City supporter first and foremost. But while Skinner’s loyalties lie with the Blues, Aston Villa remind me of the kind of raw rhymes and garage beats The Streets have come to be known for simply because they’re currently comprised of a rag tag group of youngsters attempting to find their way – not entirely unlike the protagonists in Skinner’s earlier albums.
  • Birmingham City = Motorhead– Direct, predictable, pounding, unpolished football/heavy metal that can often times leave you with the slightest of headaches. Let’s face it, Alex McLeish has the Blues playing the Premier League’s most expected football while their current 16th place position remains about as exciting as that mole on the left side of Lemmy’s face.
  • Blackburn Rovers = Hootie & The Blowfish– One of the two were only relevant in 1995 while the other one was only relevant in 1995. I now apologize to Blackburn fans while I also extend my condolences to those few out there who still listen to Hootie. Since their Premier League triumph as Champions in the 1994-95 season, Blackburn have finished as high as sixth and as low as 19th. While their relegation in ’99 was short lived – Rovers stayed down for only two years – they’ve only averaged a 10th place finish since coming back up all the while Darius Rucker has at least enjoyed a decent resurgence as a solo country artist.
  • Blackpool = The Killers – Once a band who ruled the States and the UK, The Killers have fallen away in popularity, if only somewhat, yet remain an incredibly solid band much like Blackpool’s current state when they made the difficult jump from the Championship to the Premier League. Upon their first ever stint in the Premier League, Blackpool have impressed thus far this season as they sit tenth. The Killers also impressed upon their arrival on the big stage when they released their now 6x platinum debut album Hot Fuss in 2004. Another similarity between the two are the cities from which they both call home. The Killers originated from Las Vegas in Nevada, a city like Blackpool which is largely reliant upon the tourist industry surrounding it.
  • Bolton Wanderers = Justin Timberlake– Bolton fans, I’m hooking you up here. Timberlake, once a member of a boring boy band has now turned into a jack of all trades entertainer as an actor (see under Timberlake’s multiple stints hosting SNL or his performance in the 2010 film The Social Network), a well respected solo artist and quite the dancer. Bolton once existed to bore and annoy all those before them but have recently turned into one of the league’s most exciting attacking teams under Owen Coyle. Timberlake is the kind of entertainer who is always looking to better himself while it seems Bolton is thriving under Coyle who also refuses to remain idle.
  • Chelsea = Abba– Swedish Pop group Abba ruled the radio charts and the world for a few years in the late 70’s and early 80’s as one of the most commercially successful acts in pop music history. Their refined, produced sound coupled with the good looks of members Frida Lyngstad and Agnetha Faltskog made them the epitome of the posh, over-luxurious pop sound that would go on to dominate the musical landscape during the 1980’s. When Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich purchased Chelsea in 2003, he too would be involved in a group that would soon be the envy of the rest of the world. Entry into Chelsea’s West London home of Stamford Bridge was soon the hottest ticket in town as I imagine a ticket to an Abba show would also have been in the late 70’s. Chelsea soon won back to back Premier League titles under Jose Mourinho who Abromovich brought in and posh soon had a new definition.
  • Everton = Pearl Jam– Eddie Vedder has led one of America’s most solid rock bands for twenty years. Backed by an incredibly loyal fan base, Pearl Jam have barely had to change their familiar sound since 1990 while Goodison Park has housed Everton FC also for quite some time, since 1892 to be exact. Goodison remains a charming stadium with loads of personality, Everton won’t challenge for the league anytime soon, and David Moyes has The Toffees stable yet somewhat struggling this year. Likewise, Pearl Jam’s most popular days are well behind them yet they remain a stable rock band with good intentions.
  • Fulham = John Denver– Charming old club who never offend anyone, play their home games at Craven Cottage located near the River Thames and have a lot of American fans. Don’t these characteristics of Fulham sound like something you’d hear in a John Denver song? Surely the American singer-song writer once sang about a river or a cottage, didn’t he? While he never spoke out of turn, Denver’s mellow, laid back nature made him American folk royalty. John Denver was cherished by his fans yet in all honestly was about as neutral as they come. Speaking of neutral, Fulham have made it their lot in life to draw as many Premier League matches as possible. So far this season, Fulham have drawn ten out of seventeen matches which sees the London club just out of the relegation zone because of a better goal difference than Wigan.
  • Liverpool = Bob Dylan– The Beatles would be far too obvious of a choice here so I’ve chosen the blueprint of American folk music to compare to (arguably) English football’s most historic and successful club. Whenever I reach for a mental picture of either, I find myself somewhere near the above pictured black and white Dylan of the late 60’s, replete with cigarette in hand, glazed eyes and hair untouched in days. Likewise, when I close my eyes and think of Liverpool, I envision the European Cup lifting, mustache sporting and Bill Shankly led side of days gone by. Why is this? Why do I not associate Liverpool with a more recent era or Dylan as he is today? The answer: both are national treasures and will likely never be matched as they were in the past.
  • Manchester City = Oasis – OK, I’m taking the easy way out here, but can you blame me? Although they’re now no longer a band, Oasis, in their day were the biggest band in the world full of excess with the ambition to match it. City these days have a similar ambition – big spenders looking to conquer England today, then Europe tomorrow, followed by the World. Obviously, the former members of Oasis are massive City supporters which is reason enough the two belong together. After all, with both Oasis and Manchester City, most feel strongly one way or another while few are left with undecided feelings.
  • Manchester United = The Clash– A staple of English football and as important of a band as you could be coming out of the UK not named The Beatles or the Rolling Stones, The Clash and Manchester United have a few similarities as it pertains to their significance during their respective times. While the aforementioned Beatles and Stones could be compared to the Leeds United and Liverpool sides of the 70’s and 80’s, The Clash can be compared to United because both of the aforementioned clubs/bands (Leeds United/The Rolling Stones & Liverpool/The Beatles) paved the way for what was to come later. The Clash’s importance as a band both politically and culturally, and United’s dominance of the Premier League since its inception and (United’s) effectiveness as a brand worldwide make the two a realistic enough comparison.
  • Newcastle United = Madonna– Over the course of the last 27 years, Madonna has been the kind of artist that was constantly in a state of change, evolution and was often times delusional while morphing into her next persona. Newcastle are a big club with a passionate fan base but like Madonna, The Toon have gone through so many changes in the last few decades in their pursuit of a major trophy under the watchful eye of current owner Mike Ashley that fans are starting to change the lyrics of “Like A Prayer“, to “Hear Our Prayer’, in hopes Ashley will sell the club to a more capable owner. Since the year 2000, Newcastle have had nine different managers in charge while Madonna probably had the same amount of pop persona’s in the decade prior.
  • Stoke City = The White Stripes– Kind of tough, gritty and definitely workmanlike, Stoke City and The White Stripes belong together on this list. The White Stripes gained critical success in the early 2000’s because of their authentic, lo-fi-DIY grunge rock sound. Stoke City have never been labeled as a team who play beautiful football which is why the comparison to the hard playing White Stripes makes so much sense.
  • Sunderland = Eurythmics – Lead guitarist Dave Stewart was born and bred in Sunderland and his and Annie Lennox’s partnership as the two main focal points of the band are reminiscent of the working relationship between owner Ellis Short and chairman Niall Quinn. The band eventually broke up and both artists went solo, so let’s hope that Short and Quinn last longer in charge of the Black Cats.
  • Tottenham Hotspur = Kings Of Leon – Been around the block a few times before finally breaking through as one of the world’s biggest bands, Kings of Leon have alienated their core fan base in the last year as they continue their pursuit of rock star immortality. Spurs fans remain an incredible and passionate lot, but their recent success in both the Premier League and the Champions League witnesses the North London club gaining fans all across the world, not unlike the next big thing in pop music.
  • West Bromwich Albion = Eric Clapton – The rock guitarist played a concert as part of West Bromwich Albion captain John Wile’s testimonial in 1982. “Slow Hands” also had an Albion scarf draped across his guitar on the back of his Backless album. Several years ago he was rumored to be interested in investing in the club, but that never happened. Nowadays, Clapton continues to play concerts around the globe while West Bromwich Albion impress fans with their attractive brand of football that would make Clapton proud.
  • West Ham United = The Fratellis– The Fratellis announced to the world their existence with 2006’s Costello Music. Much like West Ham’s 2006 where they so nearly lifted the FA Cup over Liverpool, little has been heard of the raucous Scottish band since ’06. West Ham are now fighting relegation while in a way, it seems as if The Fratellis are facing a similar fate if they don’t produce another worthwhile album soon. While the two entities struggle to remain relevant as the world changes around them, it’s definitely safe to say that West Ham’s boisterous and rowdy support would feel at home at a Fratellis concert.
  • Wigan Athletic = Kid Rock– Kid Rock is the kind of artist that just sticks around when he really should just go away. Wigan, while I have nothing against them, really don’t belong among the elite football teams in England’s top flight, do they? Kid Rock is from Detroit, Michigan – a town more famous for Motown, R&B and hip hop as opposed to Rock’s Southern fried rap-rock twang. Likewise, Wigan is a rugby town first and foremost while the football places second. While both have enjoyed some moderate success within the last decade, can we all agree they don’t belong in the spotlight?
  • Wolverhampton Wanderers = Tony Bennett – Wolves were an incredibly influential football team in the 50’s, lifting the First Division title three times and finishing second three times. While their dominance of English football during the early half of that decade saw them instrumental in establishing the European Cup, so too was Tony Bennett’s influence upon jazz standards and show tunes. Bennett’s sound can still be heard today in current pop artists such as Michael Buble and Josh Groban. Neither are incredibly influential to this day while both retain their core group of supporters and fans.
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  1. Tim Merrick

    December 16, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Manchester United…..globally famous, incredibly wealthy (well…not now) and boring as watching paint dry – So you compare them with The Clash??

    Away with you now…Mick Jones – QPR / Joe Strummer Chelsea

    The Clash would be rags to riches a la Wimbledon or Blackpool…but QPR makes the most sense…so do this again next year when they get promoted.

    • The Gaffer

      December 17, 2010 at 6:04 am

      I agree with others that Man United resembles U2 more than The Clash.

      The Gaffer

  2. Rob McCluskey

    December 15, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    You are wrong Jesse!

    Bob Dylan’s Christmas album is just as seminal as Blonde on Blonde or Highway 61 ever were!

  3. Ardwickian

    December 14, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Nice touch to choose a London band for utd.

    • rich

      December 14, 2010 at 7:44 pm

      everyone knows joe strummer was a Chelsea supporter.
      also Madness would be a better one for Chelsea FC

      • trickybrkn

        December 14, 2010 at 11:17 pm

        Suggs is a HUGE CFC guy, can’t say the the band agreed on football. Chas Smash ( best known for the intro to One Step Beyond) sings a special One Step Beyond for Carlisle United.

        Woody is Arsenal, Barso is SPL(Rangers I think) or Barnet. Lee or El Thommo a Gooner. he is hard after all. Chrissy boy I think was Barnet or Arsenal… you get the picture…. The band thought Suggs was less than manly for taking on Chelsea… while recording/touring they would demand prawn sarnies for him as he was clearly posh.

        ahh yes, the caste system of football in England.

  4. Football Souvenirs

    December 14, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    What a bizarre idea for an article, i can see some resemblances though

  5. jeneria

    December 14, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    As a Liverpool fan, I think the Dylan comparison is spot on. Dylan has had a few solid albums in the past decade or so that serve to remind us of his greatness and Liverpool has had a few excellent seasons that do the same.

    The Beatles are not only obvious but also their time together was so short-lived (only about 7 years as rulers of the pop world) and meteoric and cataclysmic all at once. Leeds United kind of reminds me of the Beatles.

  6. Clampdown

    December 14, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Now that you’ve compared The Clash with ManU, it is official: I hate you.

  7. trickybrkn

    December 14, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Songs that instantly come to mind for each team… some good some bad

    Requiem pour un Twister – Serge Gainsbourg

    Aston Villa
    Ocean Colour Scene – Hundred Mile High City

    Birmingham City
    The Streets- Lets Push Things Forward

    Blackburn Rovers
    Viah Kartare Da – Punjabi MC

    Every Day is Like Sunday- Morrissey

    Bolton Wanderers
    Golden Slumbers – The Beatles

    Darude – Sandstorm

    Blue Blue Ocean – Echo and the Bunnymen

    In The City – The Jam

    Gerry & The Pacemakers – You’ll Never Walk alone ehh ehhh

    Manchester City
    Stop Cryin Your Heart Out – Oasis

    Manchester United
    Voodoo Ray – A Guy Called Gerald

    Newcastle United
    Minger – No Bra

    Stoke City
    Feel – Robbie Williams

    Come Out 2Nite – Kenicke

    Tottenham Hotspur
    Human – The Killers

    West Bromwich Albion
    Good Times Bad Times – Led Zepplin

    West Ham United
    If the Kids Are United- Sham 69

    Wigan Athletic
    Too Shy – Kajagoogoo

    Wolverhampton Wanderers
    Kill your television – ned’s atomic dustbin

  8. Andy Kay

    December 14, 2010 at 8:41 am

    I would have equated Ars*nal with Tiny Tim. A big joke and no talent.

    But of course I’m a Spurs fan.

  9. Drew M.

    December 14, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Heh. I was talking to some friends a few weeks back and was trying to explain Premier League Clubs in terms of “High School Ex-Girlfriends.”

    Manchester City
    “Girl, you’ll be a woman soon. Please, come take my hand…”
    – Neil Diamond, “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon”

    I know your family has money and wants the best for you, but all of your accessories don’t quite blend together into a whole package quite yet. Maybe once they do you’ll get to sit with the girls at the cool kids table, but right now it just seems like you’re putting on airs.

  10. Earl Reed

    December 14, 2010 at 7:40 am

    Funny that you equate Manchester United to a band with relatively solid street creds, and Chelsea and Arsenal to artists that are punchlines. Why not ManUtd being Michael Jackson? Lots of talent and deep in debt.

    • Jesse Chula

      December 14, 2010 at 8:50 am

      Is Kanye West really a punchline?

      I know he makes a fool of himself in public at times, but there’s currently no better example of an artist with a lot of cred from his peers and the music community.

      Love him or hate him, his most recent album is currently dominating most album of the year lists.

      • Earl Reed

        December 14, 2010 at 9:30 am

        Kanye is definitely more legit than ABBA, I’ll give you that. Of course this is an exercise in imagination, so it’s not like there’s a lot of room for complaint.

        I’ll throw another one out for Chelsea…Shania Twain. She was nothing before Mutt Lange, much like Chelsea was nothing before Abramovich.

      • Dave C

        December 14, 2010 at 10:31 am

        Surely Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal should be compared to Michael Jackson? Or should I not even go there?

    • Joe

      December 14, 2010 at 9:33 am

      I was thinking the same thing! The Clash are an awesome band of spirit and rebellion. Manchester United…really? They remind me more of U2. Great history, getting old now, people who “discover” them at this point are probably tools.

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