If you make music, or write about music, or have an email account, the past week has been swamped by emails and unsolicited Twitter @-messages promoting would-be "Super Bowl Anthems." These breathless missives, generally written in all caps and liberally peppered with words like "EXCLUSIVE" and "OFFICIAL," speak of hopes, dreams, and a supreme thirst to parlay a sporting event into musical notoriety. This won't work, not unless your name is Wiz Kalifah or Ashkon. But that harsh reality won't stop the thirsty and shameless from persisting with their entreaties to "CHECK OUT THIS HOT NEW TRACK, FAM".
By definition, these scratch-and-win shots at stardom are doomed to be lost to the ether; generally, there's a good reason for this. But people went to the trouble of making and spamming these tracks, and that means something. These warriors of the musical gridiron are formulating their game plans, head-butting lockers, and writing awkwardly-worded lyrics about Richard Sherman to that "IDFWU" beat. Let's give them the shine they so deeply want and determine this year's official Super Bowl anthem.
COLLY—"TouchDown We Up"
COLLY is a rapper who, according to the bio on his website, writes "stories of struggle, love gone bad, run-ins with the law, overcoming self-doubt, the party life, [and] everything..."
According to COLLY's self-run YouTube channel, however, he is a rapper who exclusively writes songs about how the New England Patriots are rad as heck. Please enjoy "TouchDown We Up," this year's entry in the COLLY Patriots oeuvre, which features shouted head-cold vocals over a beat that sounds like the karaoke version of a Too $hort song circa 2005.
As of this writing, the sole comment on the song's video page is the artist himself, exhorting that "No way you won't be hype for the super bowl after watching this!! Go Pats!!"
HIGHLIGHT: My favorite part of the track occurs right at 1:00, when COLLY takes a break from rapping to provide an inspirational speech about victory in a voice that calls to mind DMX imitating a GI Joe villain. "DO Y'ALL WANT A SUPERBOWL VICTORY? AWWWWWW YEEEEEEAH."
VERDICT: Not the anthem. Perhaps this is a good tune for Pats fans to listen to while they enjoy a sedate brunch, but this isn't going to lead to any sort of fist-pumping or window-breaking. Needless to say, it lacks the pure motivational potential of Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight." That's okay. Most songs do.
THE TEAM—"I'm Just Here So I Won't Get Fined (Remix)"
Guys. You're not fooling anybody. This is just some beat you had lying around for months that you dug out so you could drop some awkwardly-looped Marshawn Lynch audio on top of it. The result is not only boring, but offensive. It's the embodiment of two musical sins at once—it somehow manages to come off as both thirsty as fuck AND lazy as hell.
HIGHLIGHT: The beginning of the track is a maelstrom of overlapping producer tags, airhorns, and interview soundbites; it sounds like five televisions playing at once while a child mutters unhappily from the middle of a swarm of bees.
VERDICT: Definitely not the anthem. This might be a good track to record your OWN Super Bowl-themed rap on, I guess, but it's boring and uncreative and doesn't really do much more than just kinda sit there and exist. It also lacks the pure motivational potential of Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight."
MAVERIK AKA MONEYMAV—"IDFWU (Patriots Remix)"
Maverik is actually a pretty good rapper. At the very least, he's good at sounding like solid-average rapper Big Sean. Unfortunately, this song is shooting for the "All Ages" demographic and thus kneecaps any chance it has at being legitimately hype by including self-censored lines like "Ya'll little stupids" and "li'l dumb Seahawks." This was a big mistake.
G-rated snaps aside, most of the goodwill this song gets from me is due to the fact that it's a freestyle over the beat to an already popular song. I caught myself nodding along a couple times, but I nod along to the Big Sean track, too, and getting props for piggybacking on somebody else's songwriting is pretty easy shit. It's like getting possession of the ball on the opposing team's 10-yard line, only thirstier.
HIGHLIGHT: Maverik is actually pretty charismatic and I'd love to hear him on some tracks that don't exist solely to rack up YouTube pageviews.
VERDICT: Not the anthem. This is somebody else's song, basically. If I'm going to crown somebody the Official Troubadour of the Big Game, they'll need to come with more than a minute-long verse over someone else's track. All in all, it ain't bad. But it definitely lacks the pure motivational potential of Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight.
GOLDEN BOY AKA FOSPASSIN—"Super Bowl 2015 Seahawks vs. Patriots"
While most creators of Super Bowl anthems come to you with a specific agenda and a team to cheer on, Golden Boy seems content to merely remind you that, yes, the Super Bowl is a thing. While a repetitive dancehall beat trundles along, Golden Boy pops in and out of the song every few seconds to yell "SUPER BOWL" or "SEAHAWKS" or "PATRIOTS" or sort of half-mumble something about his college in an unplaceable patois.
There's a good chance that this, like The Team's instrumental offering, was a previously recorded song that Golden Boy dusted off and re-introduced to the world with a fresh coat of football-themed paint. I choose not to consider this possibility, and instead enjoy a world where a man is so excited about football that he records a four-minute song simply to remind you that it exists.
HIGHLIGHT: That crazy serial killer face that Fospassin is making in the YouTube preview.
VERDICT: Not the anthem, but close. The pure amateurish joy on display is hard to resist, but unfortunately, this track never reaches the pure motivational potential of Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight."
THE OH NO DAD, PLEASE DON'T POST THIS ON YOUTUBE BAND—"Pat-Riot"
The performers of this video are credited as "Elvis Helmet," but I hate that name, so I decided to give them a new one. I believe this name has accurately captured both the spirit of the song and my personal reaction to the video itself.
And yes, I am cheating. This video was not the subject of any promotional emails that I've received, nor was it posted incessantly by an army of Twitter bots. It may even be Bad On Purpose, and so subject to disqualification for our purposes here. However, I think it does a great job representing the heart of the game—the Soul of the Bowl, if you will—and I'd be remiss to leave it out.
HIGHLIGHT: For me, the best thing here is the complete stylistic throwback to the halcyon days of nu-metal, a simpler time when goatees were bleached, caps were backwards, and every bizkit was limp.
VERDICT: Yep. This is it. While there are a lot of contenders out there, most of them feel too slick, or too cynical, or just too good. "Pat-Riot" is none of these things; it's the audio equivalent of the bootleg t-shirt that you might buy outside the stadium, the kind where the printing doesn't quite line up and several words are spelled incorrectly.
This video obviously wasn't made to capitalize on a trend, or as a bid for musical success. It's just two crusty-ass bros, quite possibly father-and-son, expressing their fandom in the best way they know: with really, really bad rap lyrics. And although it lacks the pure motivational potential of Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight," I'm proud to crown "Pat-Riot" as the official Super Bowl Anthem of 2015.