Scene’s Selections: Walk-Up Songs
Scene loves the sports. Scene also loves getting fired up. That why we’ve created a list of fired-up songs to get you ready to sports.
“United States of Horror” — Ho99o9
By Adam Ramos, Scene Editor
For me, the best kind of walk-up song reminds me of my own mortality in a fit of chaotic rage. Fortunately, “United States of Horror,” the title track off the latest record from Newark, New Jersey’s punk-oriented-hip-hop act Ho99o9, manages to do just that and more.
The obvious Death Grips disciplines hold nothing back on the track, preaching lines like, “Everything dies at the end of time/ Livin’ my life, not givin’ a f— with no regrets, stay true to yourself/ Don’t let nobody bring you down.” The results are so effective I often find myself resisting putting my hand through a wall every time the song buzzes in my headphones — talk about an effective walk-up song.
A cyclical siren in the background gives the track a frenzied feel and simple drum beat allows for the screaming vocals to lead the cadence of the track. Later on, an outro use provocative topics like police brutality, abuses of power and corruption as a means of pouring fuel on the fire — a fire that eventually manages to engulf everything by the end of the glorious run. The message being of course, if it’s all going up in flames anyway, why give a …
“High Ball Stepper” — Jack White
By Maggie Walsh, Scene Writer
If there’s one song that makes me feel ready for the world, it’s “High Ball Stepper” by Jack White. It begins with this grumbling riff, gradually increasing in volume. A screeching violin — or is that a human voice? — joins the fray. I dance with reckless abandon. Or, if I’m in public, I just walk a little tougher.
The video for “High Ball Stepper,” the first single off White’s 2014 LP “Lazaretto,” shows the song’s sound waves moving inanimate objects. Marbled paint churns in the rubber hollows of a speaker. Escalating guitar loops and teasing piano licks heave the paint into a sonic boil. But the track is just as infectious for the living; each listen dares me to resist strutting to the beat or at least nodding along. The song stands out as an instrumental: four minutes of delightfully distorted blues-rock. Listeners want to jump around just as frantically as the paint in the video.
Jack White, known for his solo career and his band The White Stripes, is one of the focus points of “It Might Get Loud,” a 2008 documentary about three living rock legends and their electric guitars. “High Ball Stepper” proves exactly why White is one of today’s greatest musicians. Without words, this track energizes listeners and inanimate objects alike, permeating intensity and exuberance. And in the end, that’s all listeners can ask from music.
“Jessica” — Major Lazer
By Charlie Kenney, Scene Writer
Walk-up songs are all about the first line. When a batter walks up the plate, when a political candidate takes the stage or when a celebrity walks into a talk show, it’s the first line that sticks and doesn’t get drowned out by applause. The rest of the lines are insignificant, fleeting — taking second, third and fourth place to their predecessor.
“Jessica” by Major Lazer is by no means my favorite song. It would be a stretch for me to say that I even enjoy listening to it. The beat is the opposite of soothing at times, there are multiple confusing lines in different languages and it is in no way catchy.
The first line of “Jessica,” however, is the only thing that matters. As the song opens, Koenig sings, “My bathing suit’s drying on the Porsche.” It’s pompous, it’s arrogant, it’s confusing, it’s nonsensical. It’s everything I want in a walk up song.
Sure, it doesn’t mean much and almost no one who heard it would recognize the song. That’s not the point of a walk-up song, though. I don’t care if anyone knows it’s the first line of “Jessica” by Major Lazer. I only care that everyone knows that I have a bathing suit and it is drying on my Porsche.
By Owen Lane, Scene Writer
Perhaps it is the association between walk-up songs and my favorite sport, baseball, that makes me choose this classic banger off Nas’ timeless debut “Illmatic.” Nas, slicker than those pesky baseballs in the World Series, delivers a legendary triple-entendre: “I’m major, Atlanta ain’t Braver, I’ll pull a number like a pager / Cause I’m an ace when I face the bass.” Nas, a Queens, New York native and loyal fan of my beloved New York Mets packs clever references to music, drug dealing and baseball into a meager six words. In his prime, the MC was more untouchable than Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander and more feared than second baseman Jose Altuve. If “Illmatic” is Nas’s one and only perfect game, “Halftime” was striking out the side in nine pitches.
While the idea of me at the plate in an MLB game is funnier than 50 Cent’s infamous first pitch, I would love to walk out of the batter’s box with “Halftime” trumpets blaring behind me. The song’s steadily thumping percussion is perfect for swaggering around in time with the tune. The bass line on this track is so sweet that I even sometimes find myself humming it while doing laundry. Most other rap fans would throw on “The World Is Yours” or even “N.Y. State of Mind” if they needed to pick an “Illmatic” track to hype them up. I’ll take “Halftime,” because when I’m listening I feel like, as Nas says, “There ain’t an army that could strike back.”
“We’re All Alright” — Fraser A. Gorman
By Mike Donovan, Scene Writer
Walking — standing up and walking out specifically — daunts even the best of us. A lot of us, event those self-proclaimed extroverts, much prefer to be cozied up next to ourselves, taking careful notes of our quieter thoughts. In the tunnel, dugout, what have you — excessive noise depreciates the senses. In this place, dark not melancholy, we solicit isolated familiarity from an acoustic guitar.
Then we recall echoing streams of thought that shoot in and out of our static minds — the blips that briefly draw us “up in the clouds” even as our feet stay planted. A stark, slipstream of positive accents the dark warmth, tucking it’s crunchy bracing the doughy flub of our acoustic guiltiness with some spunk.
As we stand up, the world structuralizes around us. Drum beats “take a drop” with each “step” and waves of shining brass roll out ahead of us, slowly turning green as they mix with the earthier hues of the guitars.
“I’m not gonna stand forever.”
We walk out the door into the commingled symphonies of winds and metal.
“We’re all right.”