Entrance Music

The AV Club had a Q&A last week asking "What would be your entrance music?" As a music fan and a sports junkie this is, of course, a nearly irresistable question, though a lot of other things got in the way before I could get around to typing up an answer.

I've always kind of thought that Superchunk's "Hyper Enough" would be fantastic entrance music for somebody:

Of course, that somebody wouldn't really be me, as I'm not especially hyper. If I were going to be running out onto a stadium floor for some sporting purpose, I would need something more in line with my actual speed. Maybe a little Sugar:

That's a pace I could actually maintain. Of course, it's also twenty-odd years old, so perhaps something more contemporary in a similar tempo, off the new Afghan Whigs record:

Then again, that one sounds maybe a little too much like stripper music, which is not an image anyone needs. So we could go to my current favorite band in the world, the Hold Steady, whose latest album makes a big entrance:

Though again, maybe a little more uptempo than my size and footspeed can justify. And, of course, the subject matter maybe isn't the most family-sporting-event-friendly...

But then, really, it's kind of an act of colossal vanity to imagine myself needing entrance music in a sporting context. Which then leads to idly pondering entrance music in an academic context, and what might work for that.

Academic entrance music, of course, would probably demand a greater lyrical density, so something like the Weakerthans, maybe:

A little mellower, but a catchy song, and sort of thematically appropriate, given the way a lot of intro physics involves rethinking ordinary situations.

But then, this term, I'm teaching a Gen Ed class on relativity, so perhaps this might be more appropriate, as a realistic analogy for what the class will accomplish:

It sounds awfully cool, but when you really try to follow what's going on, it ends up as gibberish.

But, really, I'm not a tenth cool enough to pull that off, even ironically. Anyway, as an academic currently serving as department chair, there's really only one choice: song number three from John's last CD:

That's one of those songs that's absurdly personal and specific, and on paper seems like it shouldn't work at all. But it's brilliant, and works in almost any circumstances where you need a kick to keep going. I listened to that one a bunch when I was up for tenure, too.

At any rate, while it's not really a definitive answer to the original question, that's at least a bunch of excellent music to get you through your Monday morning. Feel free to suggest others in the comments; I don't know if embed code will work there, and links may get held for moderation, but I'll clear comments when I get the chance.

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"Supermassive Black Hole" is an excellent choice. I wish I knew enough GR to justify using it.

If only the opening of "Seven Nation Army" were longer or the opening verse thematically appropriate past the first two lines, I'd love to stalk out onto something-or-other to it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0J2QdDbelmY

"Supermassive Black Hole" also excellent, or -- though this is probably terribly over-used -- I still fondly remember walking out of _The Matrix_ into a sunny afternoon, putting on my sunglasses, and pretending I was wearing a long black leather coat as I walked up Huntington Ave., so that: http://youtu.be/aTL4qIIxg8A?t=51s .

By Kate Nepveu (not verified) on 22 Sep 2014 #permalink

In a purely sports context, there's a case to be made for "On with the Business" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIOgfFm27K8 because of the bit where Craig Finn yells "Let's get on with the business!" over the opening chords. That's a very pro-wrestling-intro kind of moment. The rest of the song is sub-optimal for those purposes, though.

"The House that Heaven Built" also kicks off really well https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRVCtbfuDqw and has that "Oh oh oh oh oh-oh oh oh!" shout-along chorus a little bit into it. Again, probably too fast for me, but an awesome song.

when you really try to follow what’s going on, it ends up as gibberish

That's probably the case for a lot of entrance music with lyrics. If the lyrics aren't just right for the situation, you are likely to get a WTF reaction from a large fraction of your audience.

The scherzo movement from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is one classic that works for a number of situations. If you remember Keith Olbermann's Countdown show on MSNBC, you will recognize the opening bars as the theme from this show. Keep going if you want to portray yourself as working frenetically--that's the point of a scherzo.

If you are looking for something a bit more modern, then try The Piano Guys' version of David Guetta's "Titanium" www.youtube.com/watch?v=fz4MzJTeL0c which lets you start calmly and build up the intensity as you come in.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 22 Sep 2014 #permalink

If you interpret the first part of The Afghan Whigs as the heavy deliberate footfalls of a big guy striding into a classroom ... sounds about right! Entrance music doesn't have to be the entire song, or lyrical. That would be perfect for walking down the center aisle of a big lecture hall. It would certainly quiet down the room!

By CCPhysicist (not verified) on 23 Sep 2014 #permalink

I've often joked about using entrance music for periods where I'm walking in with a stack of exams for my students. In that situation, the choice is clear: 'The Imperial March' by John Williams.