Special K For A Day

Submitted by Ace on May 10th, 2012 at 1:00 PM

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.]

Local Ties

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.

Others: "Hustlin'" by Rick Ross; "Power" by Kanye West; "Can't C Me" by 2Pac.

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.

Others: "Awnaw" by Nappy Roots; "Da Rockwilder" by Method Man & Redman; "It Was a Good Day" by Ice Cube;

RAWK (and RAWK-Like Substances)

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.

Others: "Thickfreakness" by The Black Keys (if Ohio wants to steal The White Stripes, I'll gladly steal The Black Keys); "Fortunate Son" by Creedence Clearwater Revival; "Street Fighting Man" by The Rolling Stones.

Funky Music (White Boys Optional)

Section inspired by this blog's unabashed love for the rump-shaking "Across 110th Street" instrumental.

"Chocolate Buttermilk" by Kool and The Gang

My gawd, that horn arrangement. Can the band please play this? They need to get on that yesterday.

"Get Up Offa That Thing" by James Brown

If the Godfather of Soul can't convince you to stand up and move around a bit, or at least shake your ass in your seat, I declare you legally dead.

"Look-Ka Py Py" by The Meters

Booker T. and the M.G.'s rightfully get credit for being pioneers among instumental funk groups; unfortunately, this means The Meters often get overlooked. Educate yourself.

"Pick Up The Pieces" by Average White Band

Simply put, the funkiest collection of individuals to ever hail from Scotland, barely edging out, um, er... [crickets].

Others: "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" by Michael Jackson; "Dance To The Music" by Sly & The Family Stone; "Low Rider" by War.


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.



May 10th, 2012 at 2:45 PM ^

The list demonstrates that your taste in music is fairly diverse; however, 95% of this should never be played at UM stadium, imho. The purpose of the music isn't to show how cool the DJ is... it should be to incite, move, pump-up the crowd.

That said, and given the audience, between Motown, Iggy, Eminem, Seger, Kid Rock, Nugent, Howling Diablos, White Stripes, Suicide Machines, etc. there are probably better choices. I do like the M83 and Tribe references, though.

I'd be curious to see how Seger's "Feel Like a Number", Nugent's "Stranglehold" and Howling Diablo's "Prison Train" would be received at UM stadium.


May 10th, 2012 at 2:48 PM ^

Missing (Headstrong- Trapt) or  a Rise Against.  Any time you need to get angry these pump you up to run over someone.

'Til I collapse is a good choice.

If you're talking local bands and going ska The Mighty mighty b-stones ( my pop's told me they were a college band when he attended UM late 70s on campus).



May 10th, 2012 at 3:00 PM ^

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. 

Shop Smart Sho…

May 10th, 2012 at 7:21 PM ^

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.

Just Maize

May 10th, 2012 at 8:57 PM ^

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.

Other Andrew

May 10th, 2012 at 2:57 PM ^

As some have said above, Stooges are necessary (TV Eye, Loose, Now I Wanna be Your Dog all more than viable). And MC5's Kick out the Jams is the most obvious and winning choice ever.

If you need something cheesier, Detroit acts like Von Bondies ("C'mon C'mon") a few tracks from Detroit Cobras, and work. Hell, even Alice Cooper was born in Detroit.

And no Kid Rock, please. We've been tortured enough.


May 10th, 2012 at 3:01 PM ^

Did you sing along with the rest of us at UTL when the music stopped? And if you didn't, WTF is the matter with you that you're that anal?

I remember when crowd participation meant throwing marshmallows at the camera guy. I'll take 7NA over that anyday.



May 10th, 2012 at 3:01 PM ^

Did you sing along with the rest of us at UTL when the music stopped? And if you didn't, WTF is the matter with you that you're that anal?

I remember when crowd participation meant throwing marshmallows at the camera guy. I'll take 7NA over that anyday.



May 10th, 2012 at 3:10 PM ^

As a fellow 24 year-old, I think this list is sweet. I especially appreciate the shout-outs to the Tribe and the Black Keys. Haters gonna hate.

There are ways it could be improved, of course, but it's a helluva start.


May 10th, 2012 at 10:24 PM ^

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.

Hardware Sushi

May 10th, 2012 at 3:14 PM ^

Haha these comments...

"No matter what you do, a certain segment of the fanbase (read: most people over 40) are going to hate whatever I put below."

Ace called it from the beginning...


May 10th, 2012 at 3:22 PM ^

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.



May 10th, 2012 at 3:25 PM ^

Like a Rock (works for any time we need defense to rise up)




and Ace, you have to have Detroit Rock City by Kiss for us old farts who donate the cash to keep the U up and running!


May 10th, 2012 at 3:27 PM ^

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.




May 10th, 2012 at 3:46 PM ^

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.

"E-Pro" by Beck - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIrG6xBW5Wk&ob=av2e

"The Hand That Feeds" by NIN - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwhBRJStz7w&ob=av2n

"Clint Eastwood" by Gorillaz - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoQYw49saqc&ob=av2e (ignore the weird video intro, the song strarts with the cymbals)

"Brain Stew" by Green Day - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNq9gmY_Oz4

"Can't Stop" by Red Hot Chili Peppers (alternatively, just about any of their hits, I just thought this one hand the best build-up, Zephyr Song would probably be my second choice) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfOdWSiyWoc&ob=av2n

"Panic Switch" by Silversun Pickups - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AG8fugqFn9Q

"No One Knows" by Queens Of The Stone Age - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s88r_q7oufE&ob=av2e


Stuff that might be problematic due to recording quality:

"Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IF2lXqcEqs

"Detriot Rock City" by Kiss (also fits in the too obvious catigory) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2S4-f3w-ALQ


Too Obvious?

"Kids" by MGMT (I've never heard it at any stadiums, but it's been at every party for the last several years) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7JthgTMHDU

"Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnDF3TNYiBM

"Starlight" by Muse (alternatively Time Is Running Out, probably early in the 4th Quarter) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pgum6OT_VH8&ob=av2n - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JLfCCGOers

"Born To Run" by Bruce Springsteen - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxuThNgl3YA&ob=av3e


Too Obscure?

"Grounds For Divorce" by Elbow - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNIXPQoz0s0

"The Underdog" by Spoon (only when we're the lower-ranked team, this will be rare in the coming years) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1hZVDLkJDc


"Atlas" by Battles - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpGp-22t0lU

"Machine Gun" by Portishead (if you want to terrify the kids, there you go) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00PdHIPjaWQ

Ron Utah

May 10th, 2012 at 4:04 PM ^

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.


May 10th, 2012 at 4:18 PM ^

At 41 I was offended by your people over 40 comment.   ...and then I realized that I think piped in music is cheesey and you should go watch an NBA game (or a WIsconsin game) if that's what you like. 

Hail to the Victors is a pretty awesome song and our band is great.   Tell me I'm wrong.

That said, I did think that the music helped pump up the crowd at the end of the ND game last year after the ND scores (and the subsequent deflation)


May 10th, 2012 at 4:23 PM ^

I'm a huge proponent of AC/DC, but "Shoot to Thrill" or "Shake a Leg" (Yes, I know there are other albums besides Back in Black, but you can't deny it's sheer awesomeness) would be better choices.

Also, "Sabotage" over "Intergalactic," bass riff build up is just insane.

Lastly, "I Got Mine" over "Thickfreakness." Ever since I heard Avila using that as his walk up music, I was hooked.

For stadium music in general, I think keep it to rap and hard rock as someone said above, it is meant to keep people hyped.

TMS-Mr. Ace

May 10th, 2012 at 4:33 PM ^

I like the list.

I would like to add:

Childish Gambino- Bonfire
Jay z- 99 Problems
DMX- What's My Name

The intro of all three of these songs would be perfect for Stadium Hype.

And maybe some Simon & Garfunkel for the blue hairs...no disrespect.

contra mundum

May 10th, 2012 at 4:44 PM ^

AC/DC.....how about "IF You Want Blood ..rarely played and rocks as hard as any AC/DC song out there.

For local flavor, why not the Motor City Madman Ted Nugent. Cat Scratch Fever is way overplayed....Stranglehold is too damn long....how about something like "Snakeskin Cowboys".

A nice Who alternate might be the live version of Eminence Front or even Won't Get Fooled Again...or reach out a little further for Slip Kid.

Roy G. Biv

May 10th, 2012 at 5:07 PM ^

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. 


May 11th, 2012 at 9:22 AM ^

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.

coastal blue

May 10th, 2012 at 6:12 PM ^

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. 




May 10th, 2012 at 6:37 PM ^

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:

Rollins Band - "Get Some Go Again" (first 44 seconds) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eN7oXHNV058&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PLB7A6C7144610A447

Rollins Band - "Hotter and Hotter"  (great intro, also "gasoline for breakfast, napalm for lunch") - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VS5zGyNlYOk

Hellyeah - "Alcohaulin Ass" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaBcednUZ_Y&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PLD7569FA0348A7C60

Five Finger Death Punch - "Bad Company" -  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lenyDWW0EJ4&feature=watch_response

NIN - "The Hand That Feeds" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwhBRJStz7w&ob=av2e

Pantera - "Walk" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkFqg5wAuFk&ob=av2e

Rob Zombie - "Dragula" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1Z1Zrot-go


Situational Songs that could be played in special situations:

Chevelle - "Still Running" (from 2:20-2:38 could be played when we score a rushing TD - "Still running . . . still running . . . still running . . . " - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hfASoFOcjc

Cypress Hill - "Ain't goin' out like that" (the refrain "we ain't goin' out like that" when the defense gets a big stop on 3rd or 4th down) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2OdCYcOSqI

Iron Maiden - "Run to the Hills" (after the defense gets a big sack) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geHLdg_VNww


Would be hilarious, but tacky:

Dan Bern - "Tiger Woods" - (the beginning part where he talks about how big his balls are, for when Hoke decides to go for it on 4th and we get it) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WK_zuizyWwU


May 10th, 2012 at 6:54 PM ^

...us over 40 will be overwhelmed by his musical genius. I turn 45 this year and looking at these choices I can definitely state that I was sentient when each of them was released, and therefore, aware of their existence. I think I need to illustrate my point with a...

Chart? Chart.


Ace Jamz Selection

My Age When it Was Released

Release Decade

"Kick Out The Jams" by MC5



"Baba O'Riley" by The Who



"Superstition" by Stevie Wonder



"Pick Up The Pieces" by Average White Band



"Get Up Offa That Thing" by James Brown



"Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen



"For Those About to Rock" by AC/DC



"Can I Kick It?" by A Tribe Called Quest



"Chocolate Buttermilk" by Kool and The Gang



"Shook Ones Pt. II" by Mobb Deep



"Intergalactic" by Beastie Boys



"So Fresh So Clean" by Outkast



"Renegades of Funk" by Rage Against The Machine



"Sell Out" by Reel Big Fish



"Till I Collapse (feat. Nate Dogg)" by Eminem



"Look-Ka Py Py" by The Meters



"The Red" by Jaylib



"Halfway Home" by TV On The Radio



"Midnight City" by M83



My average age when these songs were released? 24. Yes, that's Ace's current age! Three of these songs were released when I was in my 40s. And one of them is by TV On The Radio (a personal favorite). I will admit that past 35 I did start to care much less about what's currently popular, but it doesn't look like that's one of his criteria anyhow.

The idea that people my age or older don't get rock or rap or hip hop is Ludacris. We've lived all of those genres (and many more) throughout our lives.

The data does appear to show that Ace has a blind eye to the awesomeness that was 80s rock (and rap).