If you're a football fan, then you've fallen victim to the YouTube highlight soundtrack. Maybe you were searching for Ronaldinho highlights. Ah, who are we kidding, you were definitely searching for Ronaldinho highlights. You went to YouTube and loaded up a clip with the appropriate title, something like "Ronaldinho Ultimate Legendary Skills," and got ready to watch 12 sublime minutes of stepovers and golazos.
Then you notice your speakers are on.
And the fucking techno starts.
It's one of the internet's great aggravating mysteries. Search for any football star on YouTube, sort by view count, and you'll find all the top results have millions of views and an incredibly shitty soundtrack that doesn't match the beautiful moves. Almost anyone would prefer to watch these videos in total silence, as many of us choose to do by muting our speakers. But why add a soundtrack in the first place? Why is a Messi juke accompanied by a high tempo bass line? Even corrupt FIFA officials aren't immune to the bad soundtrack plague.
I'm not going to lie to you, dear reader. I do not have the answer. But we are in a war with these torturous soundtracks, so I consulted the master, Sun Tzu's The Art of War. "If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." So I got to know my enemy.
Random Techno/EDM Track
This is easily the most popular accompaniment for any football highlight. My non-scientific study shows nine out of every 10 Ronaldinho highlight videos are set to some form of techno or EDM.
Garber asks, "How could one be so sinfully lazy as to not only soundtrack the godly prowess of Cristiano's knockin boots with Avicii and Aloe Blacc's #1 charting progressive country house number 'Wake Me Up,' but also, choose only to loop the hook of said banging EDM banger over and over again. Songs, just like Ronaldo's footwork, are dynamic — give us vocals! Give us buildup! Actually just give us a Xanax, this song fucking sucks."
I don't know what half those words mean.
Our resident EDM expert liked this one a bit better. "Yeah, there's only one original Ronaldo, but luckily, there's a lifetime's worth of reusable former Swedish House Mafia members' tracks to soundtrack his glory reel. Granted, a track called "Reload" is probably fitting for such a visual experience, mostly due to the fact the Brazilian legend in his prime's M.O was shoot, score, cock back boot, and score again. We give this one a firm C+."
Garber was floored by this one. "Oh my, the editors at Messi Magic got crazy on this one, creating an actual DJ set to go along with Messi's otherworldly World Cup 2014 highlights. We get some pumpy house, a bit of liquid drum and bass (throwwwback), and even some #feels in the form of emotional vocal buildups. They even mix in the commentators celebrations in between parts of the track drops. Who's behind this Messi Magic channel, is it Tiësto?"
Again, no idea on like half those words.
Some editors eschew the midnight rave vibe for more of a classic mood. It's no surprise, then, that they instill a sense of grandiosity by tapping a musical era where most songs praised God in all of his Glory. Messi, God, what's the difference?
Others have a bit odder take. Like, remember that movie (warning, 15-year spoiler alert) no human being has ever watched twice about the drug addicted teenagers which ends with one getting his arm amputated and another having sex with a dildo for money while a bunch of men chant "ass to ass?" Yeah, that's right, someone went with the Requiem for a Dream theme song to go with Ronaldo highlights.
Ripping off the instrumental line from Katy Perry's Dark Horse makes a bit more sense to me, especially for a Cristiano Ronaldo video. Not because Ronaldo is a dark horse, but because he and Katy Perry share a lot in common. They're both very pretty people with tremendous talent, who rub people the wrong way because of the degree to which they're in love with themselves. Then again, I guess that describes like 60 percent of footballers and 99 percent of pop stars, so maybe it's not such a good match after all. Whatever, it's an OK song, I guess.
Epic Showdown Music
Also instrumental, these tracks have the EPIC dial turned all the fucking way up. Think long, operatic vowels and fast drum beats, the kind of music you'd expect from a Zack Snyder film as the camera pans from actor to actor before a bunch of bare abs engage in battle with sharp things. As you might expect, this track type is most often used for showdown clips, in which an editor draws contrast between two all-time greats, such as Ronaldinho/Messi, or Ronaldinho/Ronaldo, or Ronaldinho/more Ronaldinho.
All these forms of editing are lazy, but the epic showdown music is the only one that feels emotionally manipulative. It elicits feelings completely absent from the normal football-watching experience. If I watch a great football thing, I feel elation or awe. These tracks make me want to create an enemy so I can then slay him to please my King. This is silly, and moreover, unnecessary when I just want to watch Ronaldinho, who is a man of peace.
Aside from these major categories, you'll also find the occasional hip hop/rap track, which more often than not will just be that annoying as fuck Fort Minor song. Oh, you know the one, the shit about percentages.
But none of these tracks work. football speaks for itself, and when it doesn't, Martin Tyler is more than capable of providing the translation.
The football feels don't come from a drum beat or Avicii (never from Avicii). They're from the crowd's increasing treble, the commentator leaning in as the play crescendos, the musical score demanding everyone elevate to fortissimo as the conductor waves us on by stroking the ball into the net. This is why all the soundtracks, no matter what they are, fail. Football doesn't need another soundtrack. It already has one.