Breaking Down the Royals "Play it Forward" Bracket

Ed Zurga

The Royals want YOU to select their sixth-inning sing-along song, but who do you pick? Here's a handy guide.

The Royals have ditched Garth Brooks in the sixth inning, and have introduced a tournament-style bracket (because we haven't had enough brackets!) to be voted on by fans to be the next sixth inning sing-along song at Kauffman Stadium. If you're a wedding DJ, you'll probably recognize most of the songs. The list includes old standards, a couple songs released since the Reagan administration, and even includes Garth Brooks' "Friends in Low Places" (what's the point of including that song if the point of this is to ditch it?*), although last night the fans gloriously rejected old Garth.

*-editor's note: the point is create clicks and justify a marketing person's salary

It would be nice if the Royals marketing department could find a catchy indie rock song with a fun chorus to sing along to like so many hockey teams do, or even commission a local artist like The Republic Tigers or Tech N9ne to write a Royals song, but instead they have given us the most bland, generic list of songs to choose from. Let's take a look through this pile of khakis.

1. You don't want a song that is polarizing. This, I think, doomed Garth Brooks "Friends in Low Places." While a very popular song, country music and rap music tend to be very polarizing. There is a reason when you ask people who have no opinions on music what kind of music they like, they typically answer "anything except country or rap." This is because the people that like country and/or rap REALLY like country and/or rap, and the people that don't like country and/or rap REALLY DON'T like country and /or rap. So that eliminates ol' Garth and any possibilities of the Royals choosing any old NWA standards.

2. You don't want to be a copycat. This "sing-along" tradition first came to notoriety with the Red Sox fans singing "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond. So why the heck would Royals fans want to totally co-opt a Red Sox tradition? Maybe we should start doing the Tomahawk Chop and using a Rally Monkey too?

Let's be original. Eliminate "Sweet Caroline" (also because its about a seven-year old girl, which seems kinda creepy considering the lyrics).  Also eliminate "Louie, Louie" by the Kingsmen, since it is used by the dastardly Seattle Mariners, and "Don't Stop Believin'" which is used by the Dodgers and the Tigers.

3. You don't want a contemporary pop song. You want a song that can withstand the scrutiny of time. Thirty years from now, when I watch the Royals 2014 Championship DVD, I don't want to laugh at the team theme song the way I laugh at the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals for using "The Heat is On." Fortunately, the team included very few contemporary pop songs because decisions are made in this organizations by 60 year old men. I think the only songs on the list released during the Obama administration are the mind-numbing "I Gotta Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas and "You Belong with Me" by Taylor Swift, so eliminate them. Maybe Taylor will write a song about how we didn't vote for her song.

4. You don't want a terrible song. So eliminate "All Star" by Smash Mouth. Because, seriously, I will burn the stadium to the ground.

5. You don't want a disco song. The only people that like disco are little kids and Europeans. Little kids like them because they're easy to dance to and make fun of, and Europeans like them because Europeans are stupid. Disco was an awful fad that occurred forty years ago and for whatever reason cannot seem to die. So please eliminate "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor, "Dancing Queen" by ABBA, and "Get Down Tonight" by KC and the Sunshine Band.

6. You don't want a slow song. That's just bad mojo. Imagine the Royals are in a tight game in a pennant race, and Lorenzo Cain has just made a sensational catch to end the top of the sixth, and we have Hosmer, Butler, and Gordon due up in the bottom of the inning. We have tremendous momentum. And the crowd rises and sings....."My Girl" by the Temptations. You just put Billy Butler to sleep and cost us the pennant. Thanks a lot.

7. You don't want a love song. When you are battling the Detroit Tigers for the Central Division, and the Seattle Mariners for geographical superiority, you have to project strength to your opponent. If I could vote for a song called "OUR TEAM WILL KICK YOUR BUTT SO HARD YOU'LL CRY TO YOUR MOMMY ABOUT HOW MUCH YOUR BUTT HURTS" I would, but I can't. What you DON'T want to do in the middle of humiliating your enemies, is start singing about how pretty some girl is. Give me a break. Cut "I Feel Fine" by the Beatles, "Burning Love" by Elvis Presley, and "Brown Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison.

8. You don't want a song that conjures up memories of Carlos Febles. Prince's "1999" is on here for some reason, I guess as an homage to the !Dos Carlos!-led team that lost 97 games.

I think that narrows it down to the list of serious contenders.

"Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen. Its a terrific song, and it kinda fits this team as they led the league in steals last year. Its also kind of a hard song to sing to until you get to the chorus which is nearly at the end. The song is also about getting out of your podunk, piece-of-crap town to find somewhere better. My Kansas City inferiority complex is kicking in. Cut it.

"I Want You to Want Me" by Cheap Trick. Its a fun song to sing too, but a bit too needy. I know we've stayed away from the K for the last two decades Royals, but you have to win our love back. Pleading for it won't work. Seriously, stop showing up at my window with a boombox. Cut.

"Old Time Rock and Roll" by Bob Seger. What better way to connect to younger fans than with a song sung by a now 68 year old musician, that tells them their music sucks? Cut.

"Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash. I love Johnny Cash, but there are better Cash songs than this, right? "Ring of Fire" is kind of a slow song, with no obvious connection to Kansas City or baseball. What about "I've Been Everywhere"? He mentions Kansas City! THE ROYALS PLAY IN KANSAS CITY! At least they didn't pick "I Walk the Line". That song doesn't fit at all with their approach to plate discipline. Sorry Man in Black, but I'm cutting you.

"Summer of '69" by Bryan Adams. It kinda makes sense as the Royals inaugural season was the summer of 1969. And the song was released in 1985, our championship season. But the song is about how awesome things were way back when and how soul-crushing life is now. Fitting I suppose, for this franchise, but I don't think that's the message you want to convey. Cut.

"Kansas City" by the Beatles and "Kansas City" by Fats Domino. Well that seems like a natural fit, right? The song is about our fair city! Except there is already the tradition of playing "Kansas City" after the game is over (my impression is they play the Beatles version after wins - "Hey-hey-hey-hey!" - and the Wilbert Harrison version after losses? Or is it the Fats Domino version? Or am I completely off? And have they axed that tradition this year?) I rather like that tradition and would rather not mess with it. So I'm cutting these two.

"I Won't Back Down" by Tom Petty and "Walk of Life" by Dire Straits. Perfectly fine songs, but they're not great songs to sing to (except maybe the "woohoo" in "Walk of Life") and they don't get anyone pumped up. Maybe if we have a May like last year, we can play Petty's "Free Fallin'". Cut.

"Livin' on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi. This would be a great song if it was my cousin's wedding at the VFW or we played our games in New Jersey. Cut.

"Rock and Roll All Nite" by KISS. This song makes me think of Detroit really. And the 1970s. And silly makeup. And Gene Simmons' ridiculously long tongue. Not things I want to think about in the middle of a Royals game. The Royals also don't exactly scream "rock and roll all night, and party every day." Cut.

"Small Town" by John Mellencamp. This song makes some sense as we are one of the smallest markets in Major League Baseball, but do we want to advertise that fact? We're trying to land the Republican National Convention here! Plus its not really much of a sing-along song. And its kinda depressing to think that one day I'll be buried next to a strip mall in Overland Park. Cut.

"Twist and Shout" by the Beatles. Its a fun song to scream at the top of your lungs to, and it even makes you want to dance in the streets of Chicago. But that's Chicago. We don't have Sausage King Abe Froman residing in our midst. Plus we already have a fun Beatles song to sing to after games. Cut.

I think we have our Final Four:

"We Will Rock You" by Queen. It was literally written to be part of a sports anthem. It produced the most memorable "Cheers" cold opening in history. Its awesome to sing to (and stomp-stomp-clap to!) But its also the most generic sports song played in stadiums now. Its #1 on Jock Jams. It would be like saying "hey, let's serve food at Kauffman Stadium that best represents what we like in Kansas City! I got it! PIZZA!" Yes, Kansas Citians like pizza, but EVERYONE likes pizza. Cut.

"R.O.C.K. in the USA" by John Mellencamp. Well that's a catchy ditty. It sure does get your dancing. And its about America, which is definitely in my top ten favorite countries (SPOILER ALERT: It's #1!). The chorus "R-O-C-K in the U-S-A!" is a fun chorus, but I don't know if its a great sing-along chorus (and it may offend the spelling-challenged in our community). And while I know that the Midwest represents REAL AMERICA, I don't know that this song would be unique to us in any respect. So, a patriotic cut.

"Centerfield" by John Fogarty. Full disclosure, I attend the home opener every year, and every year I start my day by BLARING this song. It IS baseball, right down to the awesome cheesy 80s stadium synthesizer with the artificial clapping sound. The "put me in coach" chorus could work effectively as a sing-along. But its not that unique to Kansas City. The song references Willie Mays and Joe DiMaggio, calling back an era before the Royals even existed. I like it, and wouldn't be disappointed if it won, but it doesn't feel like OUR SONG for OUR TIME. Sorry Fogarty, keep your butt on the bench.

"Minnie the Moocher" by Cab Calloway. It makes sense on so many levels. Its a timeless work of art - Cab Calloway was a jazz legend. It is a nice homage to Kansas City's jazz history. The song is a fun song to sing to - Calloway asks the audience to repeat his scat phrases (heidi-heidi-heidi-ho!) as they get progressively more difficult, until he rips a ridiculously long scat phrase that the audience cannot hope to repeat. The song was played frequently at Royals Stadium in the 1980s, when the Royals were in their heyday. It would be ours, not a generic song that any franchise could co-opt. It seems uniquely Kansas City to me.

Yea, its a bit slow at the beginning, but the pace quickens and builds to a frenzied pitch. And while today's younger fans may not be familiar with it, they'll catch on soon enough. Heck, when I was a kid at Royals Stadium, I didn't know Cab Calloway apart from his appearances on Sesame Street, and I LOVED the "heidi-ho" song.

The vote is in the hands of the general public, and the general public put Justin Bieber #1 on the Billboard Charts, so I think we can trust them. Let's just be glad the song won't be "Cotton-Eyed Joe" because seriously, that song and everyone associated with it is terrible.

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