Welcome to The Playlist Project, where we’ll be posing musical questions to Paste staff, interns and writers and then compiling their responses into a handy playlist before opening it up for discussion in our comments section.
Last week, baseball fans across the nation celebrated Opening Day. If you’re like me, the Cubs have already stomped on your heart. But America’s pastime serves as the inspiration for this week’s Playlist Project…
Trick Daddy, “Shut Up”
My answer is, was (yes, we had walk-up songs in high school) and always will be Trick Daddy, “Shut Up.”
Franco Micalizzi, “Stridulum Theme”
It’s Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, the Rangers are protecting a slim lead over the Cardinals, and manager Ron Washington calls the bullpen. They don’t send out cursed reliever Mark Lowe, but rookie sensation and formidable southpaw Stephen Deusner. Suddenly the stadium reverberates with the mighty horns and doppler synths of Franco Micalizzi’s “Stridulum Theme,” striking fear in the hearts of every single Cardinal. Each player drools sunflower seeds and goes fetal on the dugout floor. The stadium falls silent, as tens of thousands of fans doff their red shirseys. Visibly shaking, David Freese refuses to enter the batter’s box, and it’s only after much cajoling from his teammates that he finally steps up to the plate. Deusner’s first pitch: a 101-mph fastball that has already hit the glove of the Texas backstop before Freese even starts his swing. Second pitch, a little chin music to back him off the plate. Third pitch, a 60-mph change-up that gives the batter a chance to swing one time and then a second time before the ball even crosses the plate. Ump calls Freese out. Rangers win the World Series! A month later, Ken Burns films a Baseball: The Eleventh Inning, which is just two hours of sepia-tone shots of the hero on the mound and Samuel L. Jackson saying “Stephen Deusner is America” over and over. (Laugh if you want, but this got me through the offseason.)
John Williams, “Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)”
Instantly recognizable. Granted, I’d only adopt this if I had some killer stuff—like Mariano Rivera in his prime stuff—but if this isn’t the ultimate walk-up music (albeit for a game long ago, in a galaxy far, far away), I don’t know what is. I think I’d have to actually walk to the mound, though, which might annoy the coaches and umpires—this isn’t jog or sprint music, after all. As an added bonus, it’s also great “triumphant departure” music, after you’ve left the rebel scum—I mean, opposing batters—broken and defeated.
Shania Twain, “Man! I Feel Like a Woman”
I’m gonna have to claim my country roots here and go Shania Twain, “Man! I Feel Like A Woman.” I don’t necessarily know if this would really be “striking fear into the hearts of my opponents,” but if those opening notes and the “let’s go, girls” can’t get me in the mood to get out there and kick some ass, nothing will. Besides, as a long-time Braves fan, I know nobody will really ever out-do Chipper’s “Crazy Train.” I’m not sure any of you guys should even try.
Icona Pop, “I Love It”
So, this is funny—I used to work at Turner Field in Atlanta as a Braves fan photographer, you know, the person who accosts you with a camera when you come inside, and you wave off on your way to get hot dogs? That was me! I did this all summer and got really into the music and crowd frenzy of it all. My song would be Icona Pop’s “I Love It.” It came out after I quit that terrible job, but when I heard it my first thought was that it’d make a great walk-up song. It’s unapologetically bursting with energy and enthusiasm, and a generally in-your-face “I’m here to win this” attitude.
Babymetal, “Gimme Chocolate”
If the potential goal of any walk-up song is to throw a little fear into the hearts of the opposing team, I choose instead to confuse the hell out of them. And what better way to do that than with some searing metal riffs combined with young Japanese girls chirpily singing about how badly they want chocolate? The pitcher will hopefully be so thrown that he’ll be unable to find the strike zone or toss one at my shoulders to thank me for getting that song lodged in his head. Anything to get on base.
Lil Wayne, “Rich as Fuck”
BECAUSE THIS SONG.
Badass strings and a kind of ambling, John Wayne-ish confident charm. It’s a long walk from the bullpen, even if you run. I think I’d have to take my time with this tune playing. Like, “y’all are just going to have to wait on me until I get up there. This is my show.”
Jonas Sees in Color, “Give Me Mine”
“Give Me Mine” by Jonas Sees in Color immediately came to mind because of the energy of the song. Granted, the lyrics have absolutely nothing to do with sports or being an overall badass on a baseball field, but the first 20 or so seconds of the song are great for the walk up to the mound. When “Give Me Mine” breaks into the chorus and the instrumental bridge at the two-minute mark, it’s time to really show them who’s boss.
Laddio Bolocko, “Goat Lips” and Vanessa Williams, “Save the Best for Last”
So in this fictional reality, I am a slugging All-Star third baseman who moves from the hot corner to the mound in the ninth to close out games with my 99-mph fastball and knee-buckling slider. That means I get both an at-bat song and a closer theme. My at-bat music would be the intro to Laddio Bolocko’s “Goat Lips,” because that shit is majestic and would sound amazing at Turner Field. And obviously my closer music would be Vanessa Williams’ “Save the Best For Last.”
The Runaways, “Cherry Bomb”
As far as ideal walk-up songs go, “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways has everything. The driving guitars are perfect for nodding along and mean-mugging to as I emerge from the bullpen wearing way too much eyeliner, and Cherie Currie’s sneers of “Hello world, I’m your wild girl” would make for both a) a great entrance and b) a good way to establish myself as a Charlie Sheen-in-Major League-esque hothead with control issues. Am I gonna strike you out, or pop you in the ribs with something high and tight that got away from me? You don’t know, but you’re scared either way. Plus, the title lends itself to some really great pyrotechnics possibilities, in case they wanted to set off fireworks or have flames shooting out as I entered.
Ice Cube featuring Snoop Dogg and Lil Jon, “Go to Church”
Let’s pretend I’m not 5’1 with a throw like a left-handed toddler. I’d cue Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg and Lil Jon’s “Go To Church,” slowly walk up to the mound, sign the Hail Mary, kiss the ball and point upwards. Then cackle menacingly. Because: “If you a scared [expletive], go to church. We gon’ hit you where it hurts. That don’t work, we’ll put you in the dirt.”
David Lynch, “Bad the John Boy”
My friend Kyle and I have always had this theory that the truly terrifying things in life are the ones that feel bizarre, like a nightmare. So, let’s say you’re in a bar, and a muscle-bound dude with a leather coat and a motorcycle outside wants to pick a fight. Pretty scary, but you know he’s a standard testosterone-fueled idiot—you probably won’t die. Now, replace the motorcycle nut with a man wearing a full-length monk’s robe and a halo of roses on top of his head who insists on calling himself St. Christopher. Leather-man might kick your ass, but St. Christopher is the really scary one because he’ll probably do something weird like try to bite your face off. I want no part of St. Christopher. The point is, I don’t just want to intimidate the batters. I want to freak them out. I want to give them the sense that they’re entering into a frightening world that they don’t know or understand, and that I’m the insane king of this realm. Therefore, my music is: “Bad the John Boy” by David Lynch. PICTURE ME PACING IN FROM THE BULLPEN TO THAT SONG AND DESPAIR, YE BATSMEN!
Richard Strauss, “Also sprach Zarathustra”
I can’t think of another song that might be as disarming and intimidating to the hearts of brawny batters as Strauss’ “Also sprach Zarathustra.” This song would have to be accompanied by a disturbingly slow walk from the outfield bullpen, wide-eyed and psycho, staring directly at the opposing dugout like some sleep-deprived Kubrick with a head full of mushrooms.
Ozzy Osbourne, “Crazy Train”
I agree with Dacey’s “Crazy Train” sentiment. It’s simply the greatest hitter intro song ever. Never to be outdone.
Flaming Lips, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 2”
When I was semi-pro with Kickball Atlanta, my walk-up theme was Flaming Lips’ “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 2.” Whatevs, guys…
Static-X, “Get To The Gone”
To me, all this tune should do is convince the opposing players that a pagan god is relentlessly attempting to devour their souls. Static-X’s “Get To The Gone” accomplishes this nicely.
Tom Waits, “Don’t Go Into The Barn”
This could go one of two ways. For the get-pumped adrenaline rush, I’d pick “Gravedweller” by the Wytches: the snarling surfy guitar intro radiates an air of menace that’s only heightened when the bass and drums come crashing through at the 13-second mark. But maybe it’s better to mess with hitters by picking something weird and unexpected. Walking in to something like “Don’t Go Into That Barn” by Tom Waits suggests a certain threshold of unpredictable volatility, like a rabid dog that just broke free of its chain. Heyyy batter, batter.
Rupert Holmes, “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)”
Hiatus Kaiyote, “Ocelot”
Classic rock riffs are cliche by now. I think I dig the faux-horn fanfare of “Ocelot” by Hiatus Kaiyote. Plus it’s a great tempo for a nice, long-stridin’ swagger dance.
!!!, “Get That Rhythm Right”
Rather than walk, I would do my best attempt to mimic the amazing dance moves of Nic Offer and “walk out” to the tune of “Get That Rhythm Right” by !!! Don’t know about instilling fear in the opposing team, but it’s a hell of a track and will get you psyched beyond belief.
Katy Perry, “Dark Horse”
If I’m going to show athleticism in any capacity, it is definitely going to come out of nowhere. Not to mention, the song’s creep factor is sure to convince the opposing team that at the very least, I’m capable of stalking them post-game.
OFF!, “I Got News for You”
Clocking in at 42 pulverizing seconds, OFF!’s “I Got News for You” would be my ultimate walk-up song. Not only could we could probably sneak in Keith Morris’ entire pissed-off narrative, but the competing pitcher would be stuck with that looming thought: what’s the “news?” What’s he “getting at” here? It’s an intimidating way to hint at the headlines I’ll make—Kane strikes out in the bottom of the 9th with bases loaded.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know your walk-up songs in the comments below.