This post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.
For the far-too-late update on what happened in 2015, go to the bottom of the post after the jump.
In 2013, there was a sensation that spread across the nation: Mups. Their spread was unstoppable, to the point where some like the “Cespedes Family BBQ” and Jesse Spector had begun to engage in a “#Mupwatch”. But some wondered: What was a Mup? Were they some sort of Muppet? Were they dangerous? And why were they being lit on fire?
Well, the answer lay in the commercials that had been playing in the lead-up to and during the post-season, featuring Fall Out Boy’s “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark”. Here is an example of such a commercial. While officially they were saying “Light ’em up”, it sounded, especially during the echoing segments, like they were actually talking about things called “mups”.
And thus continued a long tradition of October songs that have graced our televisions and infected our ears, whether we liked them or not. And, usually, if we DID like them at the start of the postseason, we ended up being sick of them by the end just from hearing them so many times.
And, what’s more, these songs and how they have become memes aren’t from a universal source. Most of them, for example, have been part of TBS’ coverage, but others, including the Fall Out Boy song, have actually been of MLB’s doing. In 2013, for example, TBS was using a different song*, and MLB Network itself also had a different song for the commercials for it’s two games**. Rarely if ever have they been actually about baseball, usually selected more for their choruses or imagery.
*Using Google searches of the lyrics I was able to decipher, I’ve figured out it’s 30 Seconds to Mars’ “Do or Die”.
**Again using Google, I’ve found that the commercials use the chorus from Papa Roach’s “Still Swingin’“.
Still, with that out of the way, here’s a history (after the jump) of the Songs of October:
2007-2008: “I Love This Town” by Bon Jovi
Before 2007, there were no real “songs” used to promote postseason baseball. They just used good old fashion instrumentals and such. But, when TBS took over a significant chunk of the broadcasting, they decided to throw in some Bon Jovi. To be more specific, they used the song “I Love This Town”, from the then-recent album, Lost Highway. Below are the videos that were used to promote the 2007 and 2008 postseason:
Of all of the songs that TBS has used, this is one that fits more than others lyrically, especially the line about how “no matter where you’re from, tonight you’re from right here,” which fits in nicely with how most players aren’t actually from the city they are playing for, but that it doesn’t really matter to the fans. Or maybe that’s a happy coincidence.
Anyway, obviously Bon Jovi did something right, because he was back in 2008 with the same song, and then came back again in 2009.
2009: “We Weren’t Born To Follow” by Bon Jovi
From the album entitled The Circle, this song is about how you have to keep going even during hard times. Again, not exactly about baseball at all, but there are enough lyrics that provide generic inspirational context where it wasn’t completely ridiculous and ill-fitting.
After 2009, Bon Jovi’s reign as October songmaster came to an end. Replacing him was… Kid Rock.
2010: “Born Free” by Kid Rock
From the album of the same name, “Born Free” is when the songs for the October coverage started to sort of give up on any type of semblance of connection to the baseball images they were showing and just sort of went with whatever had the best chorus to play during 30-second commercials. This song is, more or less, just about Kid Rock talking about how he was born free and about just how free he is. So, in essence, it allowed TBS and MLB to just have him singing how he was “BOOOORN FREE!” while showing images of American flags,strikeouts and homers.
It sounds more like an anthem for a political campaign, and eventually it was, as it later served as the anthem for Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign.
2011: “Written in the Stars” by Tinie Tempah
The first October Song of the Twitter age to reach full meme status, the ubiquity of “Written in the Stars” was so much so that even MLB itself made fun of it, airing a version featuring the St. Louis Rally Squirrel on MLB Tonight and on their website. To this day, some on the Baseball Internet will make quips about how outcomes have been written in the stars, a million miles away. It should be noted, however, that A) the nearest star, the Sun, is over 92 million miles away, and B) the part of the song that was played isn’t actually by Tinie Tempah, but instead by Eric Turner. You see, the song “Written in the Stars” is actually a rap about how Tempah grew up in a financially precarious position in England, with Turner’s chorus really being the only thing that really is uplifting. Perhaps that’s why, in contrast to some of the other songs, it didn’t get a full music video and instead was just featured in commercials. It’d be hard to show clips of millionaires playing baseball in America while somebody rapped about poverty in England, after all.
2012: “Land of Hope and Dreams” by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Or, as the Internet knew it: “THIS TRAIN!” Yes, the Wrecking Ball single was actually entitled “Land of Hope and Dreams”, but it’s unlikely anyone really will ever remember that, instead knowing it simply due to the fact that it involved The Boss yelling out “THIS TRAIN!” a lot. Twitter was hilarious, making jokes about it and also saying that Springsteen could make similar songs about membranes, brains, chains, Bruce Wayne, etc.
Thematically, this song was a return to the Bon Jovi days, with the lyrics not really having anything to do with baseball, but with enough stuff about determination, fate and inspiration that it fits enough to work. But it really doesn’t matter, since the only thing any of us will ever remember will be THIS TRAIN!
2013: “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark” (Light Em Up) by Fall Out Boy
And so, we came to this. There was no lyrical substance, no connection to baseball… there were only “mups” waited to be lighted, and that chorus has plenty of them to be played over 30 second commercials!
2014: “Play Ball” by AC/DC, and “The Walker” by Fitz and The Tantrums
Maybe I am not correct is this, but I thought 2014 didn’t have as memetic of music as previous years. Of course, to follow both the Mups and THIS TRAIN would have been a fools’ errand, so perhaps this was going to happen no matter what songs were selected. The postseason in general, regardless of station, was represented by Fitz and the Tantrums’ “The Walker”, while TBS had “Play Ball” by AC/DC. If either of them came close to meme status, it was almost certainly AC/DC, especially because when it was first announced they had done the song Grant Brisbee more-or-less created a cover-version of it before it had even been released.
Oh well, at least the title of that song made it arguably the most related to baseball of all the songs that have been played during Octobers. Which isn’t saying much.
2015: “Heavy Is The Head” by Zac Brown Band
Last postseason was a down year in songs of October. Only TBS brought out a song, and it basically had no real impact, good or bad, upon the 2015 postseason Twitterscape:
Seriously, do you even remember this song playing during TBS’ coverage? Because I can’t.
Maybe in 2016 they’ll step up their game again.
(Big thanks to Wendy Thurm’s Baseball Nation post from back in 2011 for providing the videos of some of the earlier postseasons.)
At 6 AM: The Joe Maddon Head
This post has been part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.