So before last season kicked off, we posted our thoughts on the upcoming theme song.
We also established some ground rules; don’t pick a pop song, choose a song that you can build a legacy around ala the Bulls intro music in the Jordan era, pick something with a solid instrumental build at its start, and finally and most importantly, whatever the choice, it’s gotta BUMP.
So how did the Raptors do last year? Well, I’d grade the intro as a C overall.
The team started the year strong with Rage Against the Machine’s "Renegades of Funk" and while it didn’t quite translate on TV,live, it was a fairly invigorating way to kick off a home game at the ACC. In fact I would have given that choice a B+, mostly because it was a HUGE departure from the "poppyness" of "Crazy in Love With Dancing Raptors" from the year before.
Only for some reason, the Raptors pulled the plug and went with Bonar...er...Bono and his Spanish intro.
(As a side note I never got this…one, two, three, 14? I’m no Spanish professor, although my Spanish skills improved 200 per cent while in Madrid, but shouldn’t it be quatro? Why no quatro Bono? Was he using the same numeric system as Feist, who’s newest Ipod friendly single goes One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Nine or 10?)
And with that, we were off on a Vertigo kick.
I’m actually a big U2 fan having been down since Under a Blood Red Sky, but Vertigo just isn’t enough of a "banger" to really get the crowd motivated.
And what about the team? I would have paid a pretty penny to find out what they all secretly thought of the intro. Maybe the four Spanish words at the start got the Raps media folks thinking "hey, maybe this will be Jose and Jorge’s new favourite song?"
Of all the U2 songs, I think something like "The Fly," or "Numb" with its buzz-saw guitar intro, would have been much more powerful. Or how about no U2 at all, and something that fit our previous criteria?
Last year some of the songs we threw out as solid choices including The Roots’ "Here I Come," Common and J Dilla’s "E=MC2," The Breeders’ "Cannonball," Bloc Party’s "Helicopter" or "Like Eating Glass," Roni Size’s "Lucky Pressure" and various Jay-Z and Neptunes tracks. There are tons of options out there and while "Vertigo" was an improvement over "Crazy in Love," we’re still hoping for something a lot better this season.
So far in preseason we’ve seen an altered take of Vertigo but word on the street is that Kanye West’s "Stronger" will be the song used for this year’s opening montage. We’re actually in the process of trying to get confirmation of this from the Raptors’ In-Game Entertainment Host Lara Diak (who will be featured in one of our "15 Questions With..." pieces in the coming weeks) but in any event, count me in as someone who’s pretty happy with this rumour.
I’ve been a huge Kanye fan since his work on Jay-Z’s classic "The Blueprint" and Ye’s new album is one of my favourites of the year. Maybe it’s not his most "poppy" or controversial album, but it’s one I can listen to from front to back without pause. (Well, "Drunk and Hot Girls" gets a bit annoying I suppose.) And while "Stronger" is a bit poppy, it’s not your prototypical "pop" song.
So let’s look at the other criteria, does it meet them?
1) Can you build a legacy around it? Hmm...not sure about this one. It doesn’t quite have a time-tested feel to it however lyrically, it makes sense for the team, especially this Raptor squad which relies so much on the strength of its parts to make the whole better.
2) Solid instrumental build at the start? Yep, check that one off for sure. If they get the graphics right, this could be a chill-inducing beginning when you first hear the "Work it, make it, do it, Makes us harder, better, faster, STRONGER" before the drum beat kicks in.
3) Does it BUMP? Most definitely. Solid bass line, nice build, and while not overly poppy, a song that most people will recognize and be able to get into. That was one of the problems with "Renegades of Funk." Great tune, but the impact was lost a bit on the fact that many people didn’t even know the song.
I asked Howland his take on the Kanye choice and here was his response:
"Well considering U2 is the alternative...great selection. It would be perfect if they could find a song with some longevity like the Chicago Bulls. You always associate that song with the Bulls. Will the opening sequence/song change every year? That's great provided all of the selections are good but past history does not evidence that.
I always look forward to the intro on opening night. It gets you super jacked. I remember when they dropped Rage last year and I was almost bouncing off the couch in anticipation. Hopefully at this opener the music will be loud enough to hear (an issue last opener) and it's something that actually gets you pumped because the teenie weenie purple flame they bring out onto mid-court does not exactly do the trick..."
The Cavs are on tap tonight and regardless of music and intros, this should be another good game to get Toronto prepared for the upcoming season. With the upgrades the Heat made yesterday via the never ending fire-sale known as the Minnesota TImberwolves, I’m now wondering if Lebron is enough get this team back to the playoffs, let alone the NBA Finals. Detroit looks better (in fact I think this is the Eastern Conference rep in the Finals this year), Toronto is even deeper, New Jersey looks healthy, Chicago has another year of experience under its belt, Boston and New York have made obvious changes that appear favourable and as mentioned, Miami has upgraded their talent.
So in my books that leaves Cleveland to fight it out with an improved Orlando, Atlanta, and Milwaukee, and a solid Washington squad for a playoff spot.
Yes, no easy task indeed.
Therefore I’m curious to see just who gets minutes tonight for Cleveland as it should be a good indication of who Lebron will be able to rely on for help sans Varejao or Pavlovic.
I’m also curious to see what lineups Sam Mitchell trots out and if we see Jamario Moon get some extensive time at the 2/3 again. After tonight, there is only tomorrow night’s pre-season game against the Wizards remaining so I’m expecting to see both Moon and Luke Jackson give it their all if they get the minutes.
If Jackson only gets played sporadically, or isn’t hitting his shots, all the Kanye intros in the world aren’t going to do a lick of good.