Walkup music has gotten a lot of attention this season.
Athletics outfielder Josh Reddick helped baseball catch up to the rest of modern American culture in blurring the line between irony and authenticity by taking his practice swings to "Careless Whisper" by George Michael, a song that awakens the 30 seconds of true love shared by the elegantly dining silhouettes of an early '90s jewelry commercial.
Several other players have chosen either even more ironic songs or music they actually like. It's kind of hard to tell in some cases. Baseball players aren't typically well known for their taste in the arts. After all, the gym radio might have been their main passage into the mostly pretentious world of music.
A few others have stepped off the beaten airwaves as well, but for the most part, pop music dominates the tradition. Except of course in Wrigleyville -- the Cubs just use traditional organs.
Right now, the top three most popular walkup songs are:
Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" (A.J. Pollock, D.J. Lemahieu, Bryan Holaday, Howie Kendrick, Robbie Ross and Bartolo Colon)
Pitbull's "International Love" (Tyler Pastornicky, Eduardo Escobar, Shin-Soo Choo, Wilin Rosario, Alcides Escobar and ... Alex Rodriguez)
Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Can't Stop" (Anthony Rizzo, Bronson Arroyo, Peter Bourjos, Andrew Romine, Aaron Harang and David Cooper)
All right, so maybe you like those songs, and maybe like many baseball players, you love Metallica or Jay Z. That's fine, to each his own -- but those guys don't get many points for creativity. There are a few who very much do, though.
Addison Reed: "Bawitdaba" by Kid Rock
Maybe Addison is being ironic like Reddick ... or maybe, unlike the rest of us, he knows what a "ba" is, why it's necessary to specify that it is with itself, and that Kid Rock's entire career has actually been metaphorical performance art aimed at underscoring the decline of civilization. If you own a copy of this album and you're looking to sell it, call Josh Towers ... he'll give you way more than it's worth.
Dustin Pedroia: "Real Muthaphukkin G's" by Eazy-E
This is probably a case of "Hey Nap, wouldn't it be funny if my walkup music was OG rap?" Either that or Pedroia is a much more talented, significantly shorter version of J-Roc from Trailer Park Boys. Nawtumseeeen? No matter the inspiration, it's pretty easy to see how a song titled "Real Muthaphukkin G's" could reassure a guy stepping into the box that he is, in fact, the genuine article.
Jason Giambi: nWo Wolfpac theme music
There seems to be a surprisingly large cross-section of baseball folks who also love professional wrestling. Perhaps Jason Giambi is the sine qua non of that group, but it seems more likely that he is less enchanted by the tawdry spectacle and more super-jacked up and pumped by the unquestionable badass of the Wolfpac. It might not be the best choice since it's a sonic token of his connection to steroids -- though most who recognize the song might not care very much about the parallel.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia: "Rock Me Amadeus" by Falco
The song is about how punk rock Mozart was given his place in history. The congruity becomes pretty obvious once you realize that "Saltalamacchia" roughly translates to "blow up the shrubbery." Okay, so maybe it doesn't. Jarrod probably just likes the song, and maybe thinking about that rainbow-colored powdered wig makes him laugh and loosen up while he's taking his practice swings.
Yasiel Puig: "Yasiel Puig" by Mr. Criminal
Didn't even have to do anything to this one. If I was Puig, I'd have picked a Puig Destroyer song, but this one works too. This has to be the most mutually beneficial walkup song relationship in baseball. Puig got someone to write a song about how awesome he is, and on the other end of the deal, now you know that a rapper named "Mr. Criminal" exists.
Tony Sanchez: "Let It Go" by Idina Menzel
. @SBNationMLB Just in case y'all needed a Tony Sanchez-Frozen crossover wallpaper. Here you go. #Pirates pic.twitter.com/Ed6btvyoWF— Justin Bopp (@justinbopp) April 3, 2014
I searched for a solid 20 minutes for the presumed story of Sanchez explaining that he chose the song for his kids or his nieces and nephews or something like that. Nope. He just likes that song a lot -- which is simultaneously adorable and baffling, if you've heard that song as many times as your kids have. It's not a bad song, but when it hums with the firing of every synapse in your brain for months at a time, a slight abhorrence develops. At a certain point, it becomes the soundtrack to madness, and maybe that's why Sanchez uses it, but only on days he's facing a pitcher with children ages 3-13.
Kurt Suzuki:"Lively Up Yourself" by Bob Marley & The Wailers
Suzuki probably just enjoys this song, but it'd be cool to find out that it was actually a timing mechanism. The downbeat could function as a sort of metronome for Suzuki's swing mechanics -- once that song gets in his head, it rings through his whole body in 4/4, simultaneously keeping him disciplined and loose ... and maybe even throwing the pitcher off his square button-down time signature in the process.
Jim Adduci: "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress" by The Hollies
The song is about a narc meeting a nice-looking lady while undercover at an unspecified illegal event. I don't know what that says about Adduci, but I'm pulling for him to get more at-bats so I can hear that bouncy riff a few more times a year. Allan Clarke admittedly does John Fogerty-inspired vocals on this song, so maybe Adduci can do a little karaoke of his own and start aping Mike Trout until the Rangers decide to give him a $100 million deal.
Nate McLouth: "Kyrie" by Mr. Mister
This is Reddick territory. "Kyrie" is right up there among the corniest songs from the 1980s. And although it's obviously a tongue-in-cheek choice for McLouth's walkup music, he's really dedicated to the joke.
Nate McLouth on why "Kyrie," by Mister Mister is his walkup song. "Some things are timeless: "Chuck Taylors, peanut butter & jelly, Kyrie"— Dan Connolly (@danconnollysun) March 21, 2013
Ryan Doumit: "Mother" by Danzig
Glenn would be willing to portmanteau the band name if a big league catcher joined up, wouldn't he? It might sound better if it was (Brian) McCannzig or Yanzig (Gomes), but Doumzig has a ring to it. Doumit might have a few problems easing into the occult, but once you're settled in, it's supposedly a very warm, very consolidated community.