Music Matters: Choosing a Great Song For The Cage, Ring, or Batter's Box

Matt PicchiettiContributor IJune 25, 2010

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 06: Bernie Williams plays the national anthem during the game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden November 6, 2009 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

 “God must be a musician because we all appear to be born with it already installed. It is like factory air on all models.”[1]

And apparently all boxers, MMA fighters, WWE “wrestlers,” and baseball sluggers, are music theorists. When entering the ring, cage, or the batter’s box, these athletes have theme songs. This trend, especially the baseball player-thing, bothers me. I mean, are we so ADD as a society that we need constant noise? Or do baseball players want to believe that they are, in any way, akin to boxers and MMA fighters? Whatever, it gives me a headache trying to make sense of it all.

But it got me thinking about entrance music. Pugilists are the prima donnas of the self-applied theme songs, but fake wrestlers and real MMA fighters have also joined in the musical fun. What these folks and their handlers do not seem to realize is that the theme song is first punch. It is an opportunity to get between your opponent’s ears and get him off of his game.

The entrance song is something to be pondered. Luckily I have nothing better to do than ponder such things. So, in the off chance that you find yourself strutting to the cage to fight Rich Franklin, or to the ring for a shot at Manny Pacquiao, or if you have a theatrical performance against Hollywood Hulk Hogan,[2] here are some suggestions of tracks to avoid and some unlikely candidates to consider when choosing your entrance song.   

Avoid: Anything by AC/DC or Metallica.

As much as I appreciate the opening bars of “Back in Black” or the opening knell of “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, I do not need to hear music that has been played before every high school football game on every fall weekend since 1981. Don’t let musical cliché define you as you make your way to the ring. Besides these songs are used do often that the chances are high that your opponent will use one of these songs too. What if he uses the same song? That’s more embarrassing than wearing a white dress to someone else’s wedding. And if both of you come out to “Thunderstruck”, the crowed rolls its collective eyes and they are bored before the first punch is thrown. This is a total missed opportunity.

Consider: Ingrid Michaelson’s “Breakable”

It is popular and lyrics are uber-violent:

Have you ever thought about / What protects our hearts? / Just a cage of rib bones / And some other various parts / So it’s fairly simple to cut right through the mess / And stop the muscle / That makes us confess.

I mean there you have it! Violent, right of the bat. Those rib bone are going to snap and you are going to stop that jack-hole’s heart. The beauty of the song is its beauty. Michaelson’s voice sweet and gentle yet it conveys violent images. It will confuse your opponent. He will lose focus on the fight and focus on the weirdness of the song. You are winning the mental fight even before you get to the ring.

As an added bonus, the ladies love this song. Regardless of the outcome of the fight, you will have a new, hot fan base. If you win, you are now “the-guy-that-pounded-the-other-guy-after-coming-out-to-that-chick-song”. Just sit back and let the endorsements start to roll in.

Avoid: Hip / Hop or Rap[3]

The simple reason for this is originality. You want people to remember you. Modern hip / hop and rap sounds pretty much the same. Lyrically and thematically, there is little variation. Case and point, the lyric ‘Throw your hands in the air.’

You know who first used it? I don’t, but Cypress Hill, Outkast, Snoop Dogg, Mobb Deep, Jay R, Flo Rida, Black Moon, The Hit Co., Uncle Sam, and Andy Samberg have all used that line. Structurally, there is a bass line, some discussion of ultra-violent behavior, perhaps drug use or sales, then brutalizing women, social apathy, then more violence. Yawn…

The fight is on, it's understood, it's going to happen. There is no need to be so redundant with your entrance song. It’s fine to like hip/hop and rap, but the goals are to win a fight and to be memorable as you do it and that starts as you walk towards the ring.

Consider: Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend”; War’s “Why Can’t We be Friends”; Young Mc’s “Bust a Move”.

In a neutral location, it is key to get the crowd on your side. Become unified with Biz’s:

So I took blah-blah’s word for it at this time / I thought just having a friend couldn’t be no crime / Cause I have friends and that’s a fact / Like Agnes, Agatha, Germaine, and Jacq.

Or Young MC’s:

She’s dressed in yellow / She says hello / Come sit next to me you fine fellow

And you will have friends too, some probably dressed in yellow, screaming you to victory. Everyone between the ages of 35 and 12 knows those lines, and no one on modern earth has a friend named Agatha, no one.

War asks:

Why can’t we be friends… / The color of your skin don’t matter to me / So long as we can live in harmony.

Guilt-trip that pitcher a little as you make your way to the batter's box. Maybe his subconscious will force him to throw a meatball right over the plate.

Other Considerations: (They are self-explanatory.)

“I Touch Myself” by The Dyvinals.

“Too Drunk to F**k" by Buckcherry

“Hip to be Square” by Huey Lewis and the News

“Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice

“Shock the Monkey” by Peter Gabriel


And so many others.


In any case, throw a haymaker with your entrance song.Put some good time into your choice. People will appreciate creativity. With the right song, even if you lose, you will win.

[1] Tom Waits as quoted in MOJO’s July issue. Highly recommended.

[2] My apologies to “wrestling” fans out there. The last time I remember that stuff, Hogan was wearing black and he was a “bad guy”, or whatever. Regardless, it is not a sport and the only reason it is mentioned in this article is because his character used Hendrix’s “Voo-Doo Chile” as his entrance song and it was awesome. And Santa is also not real. I’m sorry to ruin things for you; grow up.

[3] With a few exceptions. The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight is wonderful, but runs longer than 14 minutes.


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