In the 1988 blaxploitation sendup I’m Gonna Git U Sucka, John Slade, played by Bernie Casey, struts down a sidewalk to meet Jack Spade, played by Keenan Ivory Wayans. The drama of Slade’s approach is enhanced by the theme song from Shaft. When the camera pans back, we see the song’s source: Slade is being followed by a live band.
“Who are these guys?” asks an incredulous Spade.
“They’re my theme music,” says Slade. “Every good hero should have some.”
As Slade’s maxim implies, theme music isn’t just for on-a-mission celluloid everymen; so-called heroes of nearly every stripe have indulged in the artifice. For centuries, royalty and heads of state have arrived to the flourish of horns. Even in sports, it’s not so new: Mid-20th-century wrestler Gorgeous George, an inspiration to figures as wide-ranging as Muhammad Ali and Bob Dylan, blazed a trail by entering the ring to the symphonic grandeur of “Pomp and Circumstance.”
What other heroes use entrance music? Why, your 2010 Seattle Mariners! Perhaps it seems a stretch to place the last-place M’s in the “hero” category. After all, this team’s disastrous season to date was recently summed up by Dave Cameron, of the blog U.S.S. Mariner, in a picture worth a thousand words: a house entirely consumed by flames.
But win or lose, entrance music is a part of baseball. M’s fans will recall that until he retired earlier this month, franchise icon Ken Griffey Jr.’s slow walks to the batter’s box were accompanied by the nostalgic refrain of Naughty by Nature’s “Hip Hop Hooray,” the same song that signaled his approach when he was a fearsome young slugger coming into his own in 1993.
Of course, the player is the more significant variable in the player + song equation. When it signals the entrance of, say, a dominant fireballer, even the most otherwise innocuous melody can send a shockwave of fear through the on-deck circle. (On The Wire, stickup man extraordinaire Omar sends hardened drug dealers scattering like light-struck roaches merely by whistling “The Farmer in the Dell.”) Conversely, even the most sinister rock-rap track can’t make hitters fear a soft-ball-serving reliever.
In short, our Mariners won’t be redeemed by a few well-chosen songs. But perhaps we will be a little more entertained. Thus, our review of the entrance music of select Mariners, along with suggestions for what they should use.
Current songs: Pitbull, “Shut It Down”; T-Pain, “All I Do Is Win.”
Our suggestions: Dr. Dre, “Still D.R.E.”; Cyndi Lauper, “Time After Time.”
Dre’s still-got-it, respect-demanding ditty comes from his album 2001—named for the year in which Ichiro began his dominance of Major League Baseball. Meanwhile, baseball needs more Cyndi Lauper.
Songs: Dr. Dre, “Nuthin’ but a G Thang”; Juan Magan, “Verano Azul.”
Suggestions: None. The current selections are perfect.
Kudos to Guti and the M’s: “Nuthin’ but a G Thang” is a classic that matches his name and coolly virtuosic defensive game. As for “Verano Azul,” not only does it have a catchy hook, but it features the loopiest, most awesome video Lonely Island wishes it had made. There are kids on dirt bikes; a beer-commercial-successful summoning of four idle hot women; those four women dancing on Segways; Juan Magan on a Jet Ski in a life jacket, with coronas of light emanating from his person; and a party on a boat. The M’s should be required to show clips of this masterpiece as Gutierrez approaches the plate—on a Segway.
Song: Fabolous, “My Time.”
Suggestion: Clipse, “Kinda Like a Big Deal,” featuring Kanye West.
Bradley has declared himself the Kanye West of baseball, hated and misunderstood. Thus it seems fitting that he enter to a ditty by the hip-hop drama king. We suggest this Kanye/Clipse anti-modesty anthem (“They whisperin’ about us/I know you haters doubt us/How you count our money? We ain’t even finish countin’/Pardon me, I must say, I’m kinda like a big deal”).
Songs: Black Crowes, “Hard to Handle”; Kid Rock, “Cowboy.”
Suggestion: Black Crowes, “Hard to Handle.”
Rob Johnson finds pitches hard to handle, whether attempting to catch or hit them. Mariner fans find Rob Johnson hard to handle. The song is perfect. Also, in a less-imperfect world, nobody would have entrance music by Kid Rock.
Song: Muse, “Supermassive Black Hole.”
Suggestion: Snow, “Informer.”
Like Snow, Saunders is a white Canadian whose success is based on a skill more commonly associated with men of darker hue. For Snow, it’s reggae; for Saunders, it’s speed. But this selection is mostly just an excuse to expose a new generation to the lilting “licky-boom-boom” chorus from a man who looks a little like the mythic third Proclaimer.
Song: Third Day, “This Is Who I Am”; TobyMac, “Made to Love.”
Suggestion: R. Kelly, “World’s Greatest.”
The hug-happy designated hitter was re-signed by the Mariners not so much for his (questionable) hitting skills as for his supposed ability to inspire his teammates. Thus we pair him with a song whose narrator holds himself up as a source of inspiration. Does the peerless Robert Kelly deserve to have his work sullied by association with the mediocre Sweeney? Well, do good-money-paying Mariners fans deserve to watch this rah-rah detritus fill the cleanup spot? Sometimes life’s a cruel joke.
Song: Will Smith, “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”; Maino, “All the Above,” featuring T-Pain.
Suggestions: MC Hammer, “Feel My Power”; Dire Straits, “Money for Nothing”; Bill Kirchen, “You Can’t Pay Me What I’m Worth (I Don’t Work That Cheap).”
Figgins is known for his singularly spelled first name and his singular love of the movie Rocky V, with which he, in his eight seasons with the Angels, fired himself up before every playoff game. (Remember what playoff games are, M’s fans?). Hammer’s “Feel My Power” features the poofy-pants rapper growling a series of silly rhyming couplets, with the aid of $80 dollar keyboard sound effects: “Feel my power! [EXPLOSION SOUND!]/Like a nuclear shower! [EXPLOSION SOUND!]” As for the other two songs, Figgins’ 2010 salary is $8.5 million, and he’s having the worst year of his career.
Song: Saliva, “Ladies and Gentlemen”;
Suggestion: Joe Raposo, “I’m an Aardvark.”
In selecting an aggro rock-rap tune with an ominous opening, Aardsma has gone the safe route for a closer. We’d prefer a little creativity. Aardsma sounds an awful lot like Aardvark. Hence the Joe Raposo tour de force “I’m an Aardvark,” which opens with a martial drum roll and proceeds with such inspiring statements as “I’m an aardvark, fierce and free.”
Suggestions: Belle & Sebastian, “Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying”; Fontella Bass, “Rescue Me.”
We suspect that the preferred entrance music for the ace hurler, a free-agent-to-be expected to be traded soon to a playoff contender, would be any song at a home field other than Safeco.