The Game Before the Game, Beats by Dre’s new World Cup commercial starring Neymar, plus a galaxy of cameos, just sent chills down my spine. And it has nothing to do with the bass in the track by X Ambassadors and Jamie N Commons.
This commercial genuinely evokes that explosive emotional cocktail of anxiousness and optimism that any soccer fan gets before a big game. Am I excited or am I terrified? The answer is yes, to both. Feast your eyes, and ears:
Like most people, first time I saw this, I was also desperately trying to identify all the celebrity cameos, both soccer and otherwise. So, because I’m a huge nerd, I started taking notes.
Below, you’ll find a time-stamped diary of who’s who in this video, based on my initial impressions, followed by some careful use of YouTube’s pause button and a little bit of power-Googling.
0:10 Is that Dr. Dre telling Neymar how to prepare for a soccer match? This doesn’t feel right. Dre should stick to music, or at most medicine. But not soccer.
0:30 Wait … Dre doesn’t speak Portuguese. Does he?
0:52 Oh! It’s Neymar’s dad. That makes more sense. And now it will give me a warm feeling inside every time I see Neymar Jr. on the back of that Brazil #10 shirt this World Cup.
1:10 SO glad Neymar took his headphones off when exiting the bus. Would have been rude not to. Good lad. Neymar Sr. raised him right.
1:36 Chicharito! OK, so this is not just a Neymar ad. Wonder who else we’ll see …
1:42 to 1:50 RVP! Daniel Sturridge!Mario Goetze! Schweini! Cesc! Suarez? (turns out yes, it was)
1:53 Josmer Volmy Altidore!!! So great to see Jozy alongside these big-name players.
1:57 That guy on the bike is … some French guy … I think. (Quick Google reveals it’s Blaise Matuidi, sorry Blaise!)
2:11 Schweinsteiger wets his socks in the sink before games? Won’t that give him blisters?
2:25 I never realized how much Mario Goetze looks like Taran Killam.
2:32 ENG-ER-LAND! (Having seen people with that haircut during World Cups, that moment feels really accurate to me.)
2:34 Sir Bobby Charlton! I want that portrait in my apartment.
2:36 Wonder if she actually got that “1966” tattoo in 1966 … I feel like there’s a fascinating backstory there that involves her parents being very upset.
2:37 [Brent Mayberry tells me that’s Nikci Minaj. He seems trustworthy so let’s say yes.]
2:40 The cuts are getting faster and I’m getting excited.
2:46 Rio Ferdinand! Presumably in Rio.
3:00 Was she mid-coitus? Wow. This ad has EVERTHING!
3:10 Cleats on! It’s nearly game time.
3:12 I think that’s Stu Scott from SportsCenter. Looking dapper sir. Almost makes up for when he thought Bob Ley was in Azerbaijan last week, when Ley was actually in the next studio over.
3:20 LeBron James! Is he a soccer fan? I genuinely can’t remember. He looks excited though. And how many commercials can afford to burn their LeBron footage as casually as that? This may be the greatest World Cup ad of all time. Though I’ll have to watch that Nike Brazilian airport one again, just to make sure.
3:25 Wa-hey! Stu Scott tricked us. Nice. That Bob Ley thing is now officially forgiven.
3:27 Wowzers in my trousers! I now support Spain.
3:29 Lil’ Wayne! Not sure about that soccer medallion buddy, but appreciate the gesture.
3:36 Does Neymar really write on his shinguards before every game?
3:37 Ninety-nine percent sure that’s Serena Williams, not Venus.
3:39 Sydney Leroux. My favorite Canadian-American.
3:43 to 3:49 Bacary Sagna, French toast, TH14 saying “merci,” feels like we found a mini-French chapter here.
3:50 And we’re back in the USA with Serena’s fingernails. On one hand anyway. What’s with the other hand? Looks like the flag of France maybe? (Quick power Google reveals that Williams’ coach, and rumored boyfriend, Patrick Mouratoglou is French. Speculate away.)
3:55 to 4:00 Nothing wrong with a little prayer before kickoff.
4:15 to 4:20 THIS is where the chills started for me. When they started taking off the headphones. Bold move to make that the emotional climax of a commercial for headphones, but it works. The game before the game is coming to an end. The real thing is about to begin. Anything can happen in the next 90 minutes …
4:25 to 4:30 Collective inhaling of breath. I have been all of those people.
4:40 Head to the light Neymar Jr.!
4:50 Beautiful words. I want Neymar’s dad to give the team talks for my Sunday team.
4:55 Collective exhale. Wow. Move over Nike, Beats by Dre is the new World Cup winner.
Did I miss anyone? Let me know in the comments if so.