Earlier this week, Brian put forth the five things he would do if he spearheaded Dave Brandon's governorship campaign was athletic director for a day, with a singular focus on improving the football gameday experience. Me? I'm happy to leave the branding and ticket pricing up to him; all I want is Special K's job (lofty goals, I know).
While I love the band and wish they were featured more during games, I realize it's 2012, and when gearing your program towards appealing to a younger audience—especially recruits—blasting music over the PA becomes an integral part of the gameday experience. If done right, this can actually become quite a positive. Firing up "Sweet Caroline" so the student section can pretend they're at Rick's instead of a football game, however, is not doing it right.
That's where I come in. While a certain level of universal appeal is needed when playing music for the masses, it's entirely possible to make a kick-ass playlist without spinning "We Will Rock You" and "Seven Nation Army" like every other stadium/arena on planet Earth—in fact, it's best not to do so. A few ground rules before I get into the music:
1. Local appeal is great—and actually gets its own section below—but quality trumps location. Penn State, for better or for worse (okay, definitely worse), stole "Seven Nation Army" from the heart of Michigan and made it so I can't hear that song without thinking of Beaver Stadium, of all things. Why? Because that song is amazing, and they played the living hell out of it.
2. That said, variety is important. Penn State essentially plays the same two songs on a loop during games. The stadium playlist I put together while going through my iTunes library topped 40 songs. I like being surprised.
3. No matter what you do, a certain segment of the fanbase (read: most people over 40) are going to hate whatever I put below. This is largely because they would hate any piped-in music. I'm not trying to appeal to these people. Instead, I'm aiming for the 20- and 30-somethings—people who've developed musical taste—while knowing that college students will get drunk and rowdy to just about anything (seriously, have you been to Rick's?). I'll probably swing and miss when it comes to the 30-something crowd, but I'm 24 and putting on my Deal With It shades.
Alright, enough with the talk. Let's get to the music. [EDIT: After the jump, because all the YouTube videos are making the page lag].
[DISCLAIMER: Songs are edited when I could find a clean copy, but some lyrics are NSFW.]
The state of Michigan has a rich musical history spanning many genres, and that needs to be honored. And really, regardless of origin, there's nothing better to get you hype for a game than a little MC5, a band with ties to both Detroit and Ann Arbor.
"Kick Out The Jams" by MC5
Yes, that's the edited version, because I don't think "kick out the jams, mother******" would go over especially well. Unfortunate, yes, but that song still makes you want to smash your face through a plate-glass window.
"Till I Collapse (feat. Nate Dogg)" by Eminem
I'll admit, with zero shame, that one of the few songs I've enjoyed from Special K's selection has been Eminem's "Lose Yourself"—between the Detroit connection and the epic buildup of the song, it's great for stadium use. I humbly suggest adding another Slim Shady staple to the rotation and letting the late, great Nate Dogg get a voice as well.
"Superstition" by Stevie Wonder
Not only was Stevie Wonder a Motown artist par excellence, he was born in Saginaw. It takes all of four funky-ass notes from the bass to recognize this song, which may be played out to a certain extent, but has still held up remarkably well. I've never heard "Superstition" and thought it was being played at an inappropriate time.
Others: "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" by The Temptations (need a song from The Big Chill soundtrack); "A Long Time" by Mayer Hawthorne (comtemporary, grew up in Ann Arbor, song about Detroit); "Icky Thump" by The White Stripes (obligatory White Stripes, like this one better than "Conquest").
Rap (Yes, Rap)
This is where, presumably, I start scaring people off. Yes, I grew up in a generation where rap was not only accepted, but the main form of mainstream music. I drive around my suburban neighborhood with the windows rolled down as Biggie talks about kickin' in your door and wavin' his four-four. Hip-hop is here, and it just happens to be perfect for filling those 15-20 seconds of dead air between plays (so is the band, but that's not the point here). First, a few instrumentals intended for those short blasts of musical interlude:
"Shook Ones Pt. II" by Mobb Deep
Mobb Deep's "Shook Ones Pt. II" is also known as the instrumental from the 8 Mile final rap battle, which means my mom recognizes it even though she wouldn't know Prodigy from Asher Roth. If Special K played this during a game, I'd have a difficult time maintaining proper press box protocol.
"The Red" by Jaylib
For the uninitiated, Jaylib was a one-off collaboration between the late Detroit-based producer J Dilla and California producer Madlib. Dilla is generally regarded as one of the greatest producers of all time, and deservedly so. This hits the double-whammy of local origin and fantastic stand-alone beat.
But I'm not done, since rap doesn't just have to be a filler. I'd be fine with a commercial break being filled by any of the following jams:
"Intergalactic" by Beastie Boys
RIP MCA. Also, instant appeal to all of our Jewish students and alums.
"So Fresh So Clean" by Outkast
For my money, Outkast's Stankonia is the greatest pre-game hype album of this generation. Before flag football games in college, my friends and I would spend the car ride listening to this, "Gasoline Dreams", "Spaghetti Junction", and "B.O.B.". We finished just one game away from playing in the Glick, and much of the credit goes to Andre 3000 and Big Boi.
"Can I Kick It?" by A Tribe Called Quest
Classic Tribe. Classic Lou Reed sample. Classic call-and-response. Perfect for right before a field goal or, potentially, as the key component to an elaborate fake punt.
Get rid of Pop Evil and introduce some guitar-based music that doesn't make me want to commit hari-kari.
"For Those About to Rock" by AC/DC
AC/DC is absolutely essential, and this song gets less play compared to many of their other songs. Great for filling the time when the band is done with the pregame show but kickoff hasn't quite arrived (in other words, when they normally play Pop Evil).
"Renegades of Funk" by Rage Against The Machine
Rage Against The Machine's phenomenal cover of a Afrika Bambaataa classic. Another of my flag football pregame staples. "Bulls on Parade" is also completely acceptable, especially if we ever see a backfield of Thomas Rawls and Stephen Hopkins.
"Baba O'Riley" by The Who
Yes, "Baba O'Riley" is a stadium staple across the country. Tell me you wouldn't still get hype hearing this crescendo over the stadium speakers. If you said no, that's fine, because you'll be listening to the radio broadcast on your headphones anyway. /reverse get off my lawn
"Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen
For two reasons: (1) Queen is the greatest arena rock band of all time, and if you argue for KISS I will sock you in the nose, and (2) the profound effects of this song are perfectly captured in a Shaun of the Dead zombie-killing spree.
A few songs that didn't fit into any of the above categories.
"Midnight City" by M83
An über-popular song that's actually good. Treasure those.
"Halfway Home" by TV On The Radio
Appropriately fills the dead air after the band's halftime show is over.
"Sell Out" by Reel Big Fish
For some reason, this gem from the 90s ska revival is only played by the basketball pep band, as far as I know. It's actually not the best Reel Big Fish song—that would be "Beer"—and I'm going to stop talking before you all figure out that I went through a ska phase in high school.
One man's musical taste, of course, may send you screaming towards the exits with blood shooting out of your ears. Commence your evisceration in the comments.
the best fight song and arguably one of the best Marching Bands in the country. Let's just stop polluting the big house with crappy music that nobody is going to agree on anyway, play the fight song & a lil Rocky and Bullwinkle and call it a day.
EDIT: I don't disagree with all the choices, some were actually pretty good - but some were just simply horrible, IMO. Problem is - choosing music is like choosing a political platform to run on - it IS literally impossible to create a music set to please everyone. So the only logical solution is to not create a music set at all.
We used to have arguably the best marching band. We don't anymore. Unless they are playing into a microphone, you can't hear them on the south side of each sideline or in the south endzone. I've been going to games for over 20 years, and it has gotten progressively worse. My family has had these tickets for even longer, and the older people in the group that goes all agree.
The director might be a really nice person, but the band is NOT loud enough anymore.
I don't have the same historical perspective as you, but it's pretty clear that the band director is going for nice sounds over loudness. It's a fine philosophy, but college marching bands (AFAIK) aren't notorious for playing melodiously, they're notorious for playing loudly (not that the two are necessarily always mutually exclusive). It's always slightly embarassing when opposing bands drastically drown out our own from the other side of the field.
My only counter is that while they may suck to some, they sure do fill stadiums and sell millions of records. obviously SOMEONE likes them, or maybe it's like the pron industry in which nobody will admit to buying it but they still somehow generate billions of dollars.
Long time reader, made an account just to internet-high-five about the Talking Heads. SMS is so damn awesome. I'm down with the Beastie Boys too, but I'd prefer something off of Licensed to Ill for a football game.
But to echo other comments, I think the "hype" music could use more hype.
Hip-hop: OutKast hype == B.O.B.. How about Nas Is Like? How about Da Join from EMPD? A little Girl Talk never hurt a hype mix. Almost anything from Watch the Throne would qualify, though I suppose that's not all ages appropriate (instrumentals?). Many songs from Wu-Tang Forever. Agreed on the 2Pac selection.
Indie/Rock music section: How about some "stadium" bands like Arcade Fire, Black Keys, and Flaming Lips. Also, Phoenix and Bloc Party would fit well.
I may or may not have a Hype playlist on my computer for these types of occasions.
Interesting selections. If not a universal improvement on Special-Ks Ace's list would at least be more original and unique to Michigan Stadium rather than a multitude of other venues around the B1G and the country at large.
However, if you're going to do Beasty Boys "Sabotage" is probably right line of thinking. "Bulls On Parade" hits much harder than "Renagades of Funk" as well.
I'd LOVE hearing "Kick Out The Jams" in the stadium but I'm afraid there isn't a clean enough varient (recording quality or content) out there. I'd stand by Superstition, Baba O' Riley any day, and I'd love "Ain't To Proud To Beg" to be played instead of "Sweet Caroline".
A different White Stripes song, be it Iggy Thump, Blue Orchid, or Black Math would be a good call.
I have a few suggestions as well, but of course. I'll admit to being rather poorly versed in Hip Hop and Funk, so I'll leave those suggestions to others.
I think "Don't Stop Me Now" is okay, but "Another One Bites the Dust" is a better choice. Not only does it have a great beat, but it would be a great "victory" song in the fourth quarter, or just good to play as the other team arrives.
11 National Championships. 42 B1G Championships. Winningest program in college football. HAIL TO THE VICTORS
Stranglehold has to be played after great defensive plays. Not the whole song, just that classic guitar riff.
"True loyalty is that quality of service that grows under adversity and expands in defeat. Any street urchin can shout applause in victory, but it takes character to stand fast in defeat. One is noise - the other, loyalty." — Yost
Come on, no Smiths? Does Brian approve? I mean, who isn't fired up by "so you go and you stand on your own, and leave on your own, and you go home and you cry and you want to die?" Also, the proposed rap selection leaves a lot to be desired. "Intergalactic" good, TCQ good, but what the hell is the other shite? Allow me to offer something that doesn't suck: "Rebel Without a Pause," "Paid in Full" and "King of Rock." If you don't know the artists, then you shouldn't be part of this discussion. All in all, a respectable variety of genres.
I got a letter from the government the other day . . .
I was in a bar last night in Denver that was playing old school rap videos and Eric B. and Rakim was definitely one that came on the 15 minutes I was there. You really don't think Shook Ones would be great to hear? Whether the intro, at random times, or part of the chorus, especially before another team is about to kick a field goal! I feel like that song just flat-out works; classic and timeless hip-hop song.
I know some people dislike the Black Keys or think they are too popular now or too similar to certain older bands, but Lonely Boy would be an awesome choice that Michigan could turn into a tradition that no one else is doing right now.
Use the opening guitar and the "Whoa, oh oh oh" parts for 30 second clips and I think we got something that can get the whole stadium involved. It would sound awesome.
I don't know what would get the players pumped, but there are some songs that I love to listen to before hockey games. Some probably wouldn't work well over the PA, and most would probably cause some cardiac problems for the blue-hairs, but here are some of my favorites:
How you remind me of my blythly, glibly arrogant 24 year old self. Dont worry, youll have many opportunities to look back on these times and apologize to those who witnessed this time, and theyll give ya a hug.
As MGoShoe points out, youre not cutting any new paths with your songlist. Hell, its quite nice actually, as the British would say. Dont Stop Me Now was my FAVORITE song EVER!!!! when I was twelve (in a way that only twelve year olds could love). M83 is my new favorite band (seein 'em in NYC in August, and I cant wait). THE PLAY LIST IS IRRELEVENT.
Boys and girls, when did this blog devolve from ^*&^*^Brandon NO MORE PIPED "EXPERIENCE" to "ah vell Monsieur von Romstadt vould zou like a Bordeaux or Chablis viz ze invasion en France?" Alright thats a wee bit hyberbolic, but sometimes thats what those under 40 have to hear.