Music has a lot of power. If you’ve ever noticed in a movie, the background music sets the tone for the scene. A man walking from an explosion with triumphant theme connotes that he’s the hero and he’s won. However, draw up the same scene with a sad or tragic them playing would make you feel that he’s lost the battle or a loved one perished in the blast.
Walk-up music in baseball can have the same effect on a crowd. A batter’s walk-up music demonstrates shows those in attendance a piece of his personality and sets the tone for the at bat.
In Episode Fourteen of the Baseball Together Podcast, we listed our top baseball walk-up songs. I’ll get to that list in bit, but I’d like to go over three things I think make good walk-up songs.
Involve the crowd:There are a number of ways to get the crowd involved with walk-up music. “Hip Hop Hurray” by Naughty By Nature is a classic because everybody at a Seattle Mariners or Cincinnati Reds game (depending on the year) knew that Ken Griffey Jr. was coming up to bat and they knew what to do. You throw your arms up and sway back and forth.
Send a message:There are a number of ways you can send a message with a walk-up song. One, let the pitcher and everyone know that you’re out here to take care of business. I’m not saying that “Takin’ Care of Business” by B.T.O. is a great walk-up song, because it’s not. But let everybody know you’re there for the fight, you’re ready for no matter what the pitcher sends your way.
Get your mind right:The most important person in this equation is the hitter. You don’t want a song that’s going to get the batter in the wrong state of mind or pace. A D1 baseball player once told me that he chose “White Iverson” by Post Malone because the tempo of the song put his mind in a great place and he felt like it kept him calm in the box.
Every walk-up song doesn’t have to meet all three points, but if your song meets one of those three criteria, it’ll be a great way to step up to the box. Ultimately, a good walk-up song is a great 10 to 20 seconds of an excellent song. Now, let’s get to what I believe to be the best walk-up songs.
5. “Hip Hop Hurray” by Naughty By Nature
I’ve said it many times before, Griffey is my favorite player. Ever. I’m not necessarily a huge fan of the song, but “Hip Hop Hurray” was my first introduction to the concept of baseball walk-up songs. When the crowd waved its arms back and forth as I watched my hero dig into the box is something I’ll never forget. This is a song that I have to include simple for the nostalgia and as a tribute to one of the greatest to ever play the game.
4. “Dirty Sexy Money” by The Struts
I could probably fill out most of this list with songs by The Struts. You might not have heard of them, but The Struts are a band that have a Rolling Stones sound with a modern twist. By that I mean they remind me a lot of the things that I like about The Rolling Stones, but I like this sound more.
Anywho, the way this song starts with a simple guitar riff that has smooth distortion without the grungy “crunch” would be a great way to bring energy to a ballpark with a smooth walk up to the plate. Additionally, the title of this song is perfectly fitting for baseball. It’s dirty. The Show is about as sexy as sports get. And there’s a whoooole lot of money in the big leagues. Baseball is “Dirty Sexy Money.”
3. “Big Pimpin’” by Jay Z
There was a baseball season in high school where I either listened Jay Z’s album “ Vol. 3 – The Life and Times of S. Carter” or “Borders and Boundaries” by Less Than Jake before every road game. I don’t know what it was, but both albums (despite their stark differences) put my mind in a good place for the game. After scouring “Borders and Boundaries,” I couldn’t find a single song on the album that would make a good walk-up song. However, “Big Pimpin’” makes for an excellent walk-up song with its strong beat and relaxed tempo.
2. “Given Up” by Linkin Park
When I think of great rock songs that can get the crowd involved, “Given Up” by Linkin Park is what immediately comes to mind. The intro of this song has a great build with clapping that progresses to a simple rhythm guitar with some strong guitar chucking (or dead notes) that makes for a strong really strong solo that would take a batter to the batter’s box. Now, the only problem with this song is that the intro is so long that the crowd would never get to hear anything besides the claps and rhythm guitar solo, but it would sure make for a great build to a confident at bat.
Before we get to my top baseball walk-up song, there are two extras I’d like to throw in here.
Closer Entrance Song: “Until We Die” by Escape the Fate
Inspired by the greatness of closers like Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, and Eric Gagne and their accompanying entrance songs, I had to include one of my own. Before I go into this song, I have so say, my particular music tastes are not popular. Much of my playlist consists of what’s considered “post hardcore,” or scream-o. As far as my list of walk-up songs goes, “Until We Die” is as metal as I get.
The inspiration behind this song comes from the acclaimed closer Brian Wilson. That’s right, the guy who pitched for two of the San Francisco Giants’ World Series winning teams with the long beard and a screw loose (possibly). The closer is the most metal position in baseball because he has to have ice in his veins. He can’t show any fear or weakness when he’s charged with logging the final three outs of a game. Another aspect of the closer that makes him the toughest guy on the field is his ability to chuck fireballs. These days, it seems as though you’re not cut out to close out a game if you can’t throw 102 mph.
The first time I heard this song the build in the intro, the hit from the guitars, and the strong vocals immediately made me think of a closer entrance song. If I was at a game and the closer came out to this song, I’d be amped up for those final three outs and cheering my guts out for the guy. Take a listen to the song and tell me you can’t see the closer sprinting out of the bullpen like Wilson as the driving guitar solo roars through ballpark while the crowd erupts.
Honorable Mention: “Get Back” by Zebrahead
This is another throwback song that is the perfect combination of rock and hip hop. Not only does “Get Back” have a killer and iconic intro, the only vocals in the opening riff of the song says, “Here comes the boom!” What?! That’s amazing! And who isn’t trying to bring the boom every time they step up to the plate? Nobody, that’s who.
As much as I love this song, the only reason it falls to the honorable mention is similar to “Given Up.” The only part of the song the crowd would hear is the intro, and while it builds, it’s an incredibly repetitive build.
Now, let’s get to the greatest baseball walk-up song of all time.
1. “Back in Black” by AC/DC
AC/DC plays the anthem to every epic entrance in the history of the world. Well, maybe not the world, but you get what I’m saying. It’s a subtle yet powerful intro that just about everyone is familiar with.
“Back in Black” is a powerful anthem that announces your presence with authority whether you’re entering a room or walking up to the plate.
What are some songs that you love as baseball walk-up songs? Let us know in the comments!