First there was the All-Atlanta Hip-Hop Starting XI. Then there was the All-New York Hip-Hop Starting XI. Then Seattle weighed in with the All-Seattle Music Starting XI. Being from a great state for music that cuts across genres and embraces musical diversity, we couldn’t be left out of the conversation. So here we present the All-Minnesota Music Starting XI.
We like some of the rules that were already established for this — like Seattle including both men and women — but while we’d love to stick to musicians who are still alive, we have to make a special exception for Prince Rogers Nelson. If you don’t understand why, well, then, you probably don’t understand Minnesota. Also, when it comes to evaluating and discussing roles, all musicians are in their peak form. I’m sure Bob Dylan can’t get around the pitch like he used to these days, so picture him circa Blonde on Blonde.
GK: Slug (Atmosphere)
One of a goalkeeper’s most important jobs is keeping the backline together, so communication is absolutely key. They also, though, have to be a little reckless, a little skewed — willing to take risks but also stand on their own. This all fits Atmosphere’s Slug to a T. Plus he’s somewhere around 6’3”, so a good size for a ‘keeper. A good goalkeeper is a lot like a good drummer — a backstop that holds it all together. Grant Hart from Hüsker Dü gets the nod as his backup.
RB: Wendy Melvoin (The Revolution)
As a member of the Revolution, the Wendy of Wendy & Lisa was strong in support, plus good at driving the attack forward as necessary on guitar, as seen in the video for “Kiss.” Her counterpart, Lisa Coleman, can spell her off the bench, bringing a slightly different look on keys.
CB: Lazerbeak (Doomtree)
Lazerbeak is one of the major creative and organizational forces behind hip-hop collective Doomtree and as a beatmaker, DJ and producer, he’s familiar with the kind of responsibility necessary to hold a team together at the back. Backing him up is jazz drummer extraordinaire David King, known for his work with The Bad Plus, Happy Apple and countless other projects. The definition of a multi-tool player.
Comfortable across a broad swath of genres from hip-hop to R&B to pop, Lizzo has been a member of a team (The Chalice) and also a solo artist, showing the range to fall back in support as well as push forward and win headers. She’s backed up by fellow triple-threat (rapping, singing, slide tackling) Dessa of Doomtree.
LB: Craig Finn (The Hold Steady, Lifter Puller)
There are few performers more animated and antic onstage than Craig Finn. Brainy and verbose, he’s a perfect fit at left back to read the game, communicate his reads and overlap when necessary. His backup is Hüsker Dü’s Bob Mould, an avowed wrestling fan who’s not afraid to mix it up.
CM: Gary Louris (The Jayhawks)
Playing as the #6 here, Louris ties the defense to the offense, much as he did with his songwriting in the Jayhawks. When he comes off, his former Jayhawks counterpart Mark Olson steps in without a hiccup.
CM: Brother Ali
Wearing the #8, Brother Ali might pick up the ball in the back, but he also presses the attack steadily. In his music, he is fiery but compassionate, qualities that serve him well as he looks to distribute the ball into advantageous positions on the attack as a deep lying playmaker. The rangy Dave Pirner backs him up — plus Pirner in prime Soul Asylum mode looks kind of like Kyle Beckerman.
RW: Paul Westerberg (The Replacements)
Westerberg brings a layer of unpredictable genius and creativity to the side, plus a track record of success both in creating for others as the leader of The Replacements and keeping it for himself in his solo career. His backup, rapper P.O.S., provides a great change of pace and excels at varying tempos and approaches.
There has maybe never been a more multi-dimensional musician than Prince. From writing to producing to singing to dancing to playing guitar (and OH MY WORD THE GUITAR PLAYING) to leading a band, the man did it all. He’s a consummate #10 on the pitch — the trequartista otherwise known as Prince — as comfortable taking it himself as he is creating for others. Dan Wilson rose to prominence as the singer/guitarist for Semisonic, but he’s since expanded his palette as a writer and producer for acts like Adele and the Dixie Chicks. A solid backup.
LW: Bob Dylan
Singer, songwriter, poet, author, Nobel Prize-winner, attacking mid who’s deadly out wide and on the cross. Another product of northern Minnesota, Alan Sparhawk, backs him up. Nearly Dylan’s equal in inscrutable introversion, Sparhawk matches his vision and creativity out wide.
As comfortable freestyling as writing historical fiction into his songs, Astronautalis has both the speed and dexterity to be a perfect #9 for this squad. What his backup, Morris Day, lacks in height he makes up in speed, plus fashion sense. The link between Day and Prince on the attack is, as ever, sublime.
GAFFER: Har Mar Superstar
He already looks like an over-worked soccer coach.