The Royals' season has people buzzing. Not too long ago, our city lived through a similar predicament: stinging from another KU NCAA Tournament loss -- a loss to Syracuse in the finals -- the region's sports fans turned their desperate eyes to the Royals for temporary relief. The monstrously unheralded 2003 Kansas City Royals rattled off nine straight wins and, at one point, sat above the AL Central with a 17-4 record before falling back to Earth.
Right before that season began, then-Star columnist Jason Whitlock commissioned a local rapper, X-Dash, to pen a Royals anthem that was named "Get on the Bus." I don't intend to exaggerate, but "Get on the Bus" was probably the dopest baseball anthem of all time.
The lyrics were tailor-made to that year's fairly anonymous roster, name-checking guys like Michael Tucker and Ken Harvey, a man "not to be taken light." Other sample lines: Angel Berroa is the next Frank White, and Grimsley throwing strikes into Brett Mayne's palms / See the sparks fly out of Relaford's arms. It was a magical anthem -- and a song that's now completely undetectable on the Internet. (Jason Whitlock's burning of every bridge in town probably has something to do with it; the song was, for a long time, linked onto his 810 Sports Radio profile page.) Jason, if you come across this, please send it. I must have it to show to my grandchildren.
So, until I can find my one true desire, "Get on the Bus" by X-Dash -- did I mention it has a sick call and response in the chorus: When I say KC / Y'all say Royals? -- I'll have to live vicariously through some of my favorite (mostly unofficial) team anthems.
"Black and Yellow," Wiz Khalifa
Backstory:The best part of Wiz Khalifa's ubiquitous "Black and Yellow" is that it works for all the Pittsburgh sports teams, because in some amazing foresight made ages ago, the Pirates, the Steelers and the Penguins all rep the same colors. And, yeah, it's been co-opted a shit-ton, given the song has a really pliable rhythm that's a template for easy interchanging. Irv da Phenom did a Chiefs version, "Red and Yellow." B Double E did a KU one. Hell, there's even a UMKC version.Throw the 'Roos is the air, indeed.
Watch for: Title Towels galore.
"Three Lions," The Lightning Seeds
Backstory: Initially crafted for England's '94 World Cup run, and amended
for the '98 Cup here, this is just a great power-pop chorus, straight up. There's lots of emotional yearning going on. If I had to pick the "most infectious" anthem, this would be it.
Watch for: The pickup game with the English fans and the German fans (most of whom are wearing Jurgen Klinnsman jerseys) is one of my favorite scenes in any music video.
"Couple of Cats," Mizzou Basketball
Backstory: The 1987 Missouri Tigers made this lame rap video, which at
first glance is abysmal; but it grows on you. (Full disclosure: I graduated from KU in 2008, so this video is easy to make fun of.) Maybe this kind of thing sounded cutting edge by the late '80s. But, Mizzou fans, even you guys can't defend the white guys. It's some seriously frightening stuff. Norm Stewart. Jesus.
Watch for: Personally, my favorite part of this video is the screen wipes and interlays where the team is in the studio laying down the audio. Seems like that's a little much.
"Who Dey?" Bootsie Collins and Co.
Backstory: Every few years, thanks to NFL's maintenance of parity in its league, the Cincinatti Bengals get kinda good. Often confused with "Who Dat?," the New Orlean's Saints' rallying call, "Who Dey?" gets the edge here because of its outrageous, Bootsy Collins-starring video.
Watch for: Duane Clemon's verse. "I'm not Paul Wall." Whoa. Also, the syncopated dance with the tackling clone is a crucial stylistic decision.
"Talkin' Softball," Terry Cashman
Backstory: I realize that Springfield is a fictional town, but it's real to me. When Mr. Burns tries to pull a 2011 Miami Heat and recruit MLB's stars as ringers for his power plant softball team, everything goes wrong. "Talking Baseball" author Terry Cashman adapts his famous song for this memorable jam.
Watch for: I feel like the Internet's greatest failing is how hard it is to access situation-appropriate clips from The Simpsons. Many of them can be found on YouTube, but often they're in Spanish or something. (I was trying to make a super-appropriate, well-derived Troy McClure reference to a co-worker the other day, and without the visual gag to back my anecdote up, I was just that guy telling a stupid story about something he saw on TV.
Internet, fix this. I still love you though. Best, Corban.)
"Tessie," Dropkick Murphys
Backstory: Though they've got the most obnoxious fans in baseball -- or any sport, for that matter -- the Boston Red Sox sure does have a lot of interesting anthem action. "Tessie" is a Sox-specific, bagpipe-utilizing power-pop track that all of Fenway can drunkenly bleat, on cue.
Watch for: Critical guitar-bagpipe interplay that starts at :32.
"Devil Walk," Ill Trill
Backstory: Tift County High School in Tift County, Georgia, may have own the
claim for best player-generated rap anthem. I remember when my high school football team's freshman squad made a song called "Here Comes the Pain Train" when they went 10-0 or something. It was nowhere near is good, though it did work the phrase "bouncing tits" into the hook, which I can't say about "Devil Walk."
Watch for: "KAREEM HESS."
"Bears Still Suck," The Happy Schnapps Combo
Backstory: The title and the band name is all you ever need to know about Wisconsin.
Watch for: Extremely dated lyrics beset by a north country accent. (Oh, and this is a polka jam.)
"Meet the Mets," Ruth Roberts and Bill Katz
Backstory: A well-worn standard. I'm not sure how meet-able the Mets are, day in and day out, but doesn't it just make you yearn for a simpler time? Cue Ken Burns effect.
Watch for: Per Wikipedia, "In 2008, the song was also recreated with a more hip-hop vibe, purportedly to appeal to a younger generation." OMFG.
"Uptown Baby," Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz
Backstory: This song, even now, is massive. It's everything "Empire State of Mind" isn't. It's more raw, and Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz came out of anonymity when it dropped. Each borough gets a lengthy shout-out too, where Hov's hit is pretty Manhattan-centric. I'm not sure they've really centered in on the concept of déjà vu -- "Splat...like déjà vu!" -- but, hey, we're picking nits now.
Watch for: The intro to this video is one of my favorite intros, mostly because of Wyclef's boisterous announcement and the raucous response. "Please rise for the national anthem of the world!" It is my life goal to live to the day where this pledge manifests itself in reality.