I’m sure most of you spent your NBA offseasons glued to your transistor radios, and those of you who did may note that this summer (like many others before it) brought about a new spate of noteworthy pop songs, many of which have qualities which lend themselves to real world soundtracking. And if there’s a better place than the world of the NBA to filter the Top 40 down to its most utilitarian applications, I don’t know what it is.
Every year, more songs are added to the proud canon of 2 Unlimited’s “Get Ready for This,” Zombie Nation’s “Kernkraft 400” and every mildly popular song that prominently features the word “jump.” These are the songs that provide the interstitial entertainment without which NBA games would be rather dry, stately affairs, more like four-act theater pieces than kinetic exhibitions of athletic and spiritual triumph. And you’ll be hearing them in endless circulation soon enough, so may as well get them super-stuck in your head now. It’ll make the transition easier, probably.
New Tip-Off Song: T.I. feat. Lil Wayne, “Ball”
No hugely obvious candidates this year, and I also considered going with Nicki Minaj’s “Pound the Alarm” (has an excitement and real sense of urgency to it) and Pitbull’s “Get it Started” (has the word “Start” in the title). But ultimately, I think if there’s a go-to tip-off song this year, it’s Tip and Weezy’s 808-y head-nodder, which has the necessary pum-pump it up sort of excitement to it and (more importantly) repeats the word “Ball” about 50 times. Should get a fair amount of play at Hawks games, at least.
New Kiss Cam Song: Carly Rae Jepsen, “This Kiss”
If you listen to “Call Me Maybe” songstress (and weirdly old Canadian citizen) Carly Rae Jepsen’s ’80s-ish recent single “This Kiss” closely enough, you might notice that it’s actually a cheater’s anthem, but that will likely matter little to Kiss Cam operators desperate for a good new song about smooching. (I know, I can’t believe it’s been three years since “Kiss Me Thru the Phone” either.) Plus, the chorus lyrics of “This kiss / Is something I can’t miss / Your lips are undeniable” are strong enough that they’re likely to be all people really focus on. Plus, the song’s good! Not nearly as popular as “Maybe,” but nearly on the same level of goodness. Tell your local congressman.
New Dance Cam Song: Psy, “Gangnam Style”
Obviously. Really, I suppose you could also pencil in “Gangnam Style” as the Tip-Off Song, the Player Introduction Song, the Kiss Cam Song and probably both the “We Won, Hooray” and “We Lost, Sorry No Refunds” Songs as well. This viral phenom is an off-the-board favorite to be the most played jam throughout the 2012 basketball season. But the one time you’re all-but-guaranteed to hear Psy’s No. 2 hit — held off from the top spot by Maroon 5′s mediocre “One More Night” for five weeks in a Billboard tragedy of epic proportions — is during the Dance Cam segment, when SEXXY LAAADDAAAAYYYS of both genders will be encouraged to do their best horse-and-lasso routines for audience approval. Practice your leg shuffling now. You never know when you might be the one caught in the spotlight.
New Jump Ball Song: LoveRance feat. 50 Cent, “Up!”
Well, maybe not. It’s gonna be a tough sell getting game action for a song with a chorus of “I beat the pussy up, up, up” and the radio edit of “I beat the-beat the up, up, up,” is just confusing. But James Naismith’s original rulebook clearly and unequivocally states that no song without the word “Jump” or “Up” in the title shall ever be played during a jump ball (with an exemption granted to Busta Rhymes’ “Pass the Courvoisier (Part II)” and its famous “DON’T THIS HIT MAKE MY PEOPLE WANNA / (Jump, jump!)” hook), and as far as I can tell, LoveRance and 50′s genital abuse anthem was the only hit from this year to fit the qualifications. Perhaps there exists some kinda Super Deluxe Radio Edit that takes out all lyrics but the “Up, up, up” hook? Stern’s probably looked into it by now.
New TNT Commercial Song: fun., “Some Nights”
Little guess work here, and Usher’s “Numb,” David Guetta’s “I Can Only Imagine” and Wiz Khalifa’s “Work Hard, Play Hard” are all arguable possibilities here, but I would guess that TNT goes with the year’s most anthemic wordless hook — you’d probably already know it if you heard it, even if the song title doesn’t sound familiar — to saturate their hoops advertising. It’s a little less in-your-face than some previous TNT songs, but it’s a perfectly exciting, catchy and ruinable song for the channel to get its grubby paws on, and I wouldn’t be surprised if three months from now, none of us could hear the song without picturing Rajon Rondo slashing to the hoop or Kevin Durant saluting the crowd after hitting a big shot or what have you.
New Stadium Anthem: Notorious B.I.G. feat. Scoop, 2Pac, Big Daddy Kane and Shyheim, “95 Freestyle”
Or, as it’s better known, “WHERE BROOKLYN AT?! WHERE BROOKLYN AT?! WHERE BROOKLYN AT?!” One of the most famous drops in hip-hop history — just ask Matty O — has already taken hold among fans of New York’s most populous borough, where the song (the line, anyway) was used during player introductions during pr-season Nets games, beating out such other worthwhile Brooklyn anthems as “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” and ODB’s “Brooklyn Zoo” for the honors. If only B.I.G. had the foresight of future party starters LMFAO, he could’ve recorded his famous shoutout naming every major metropolitan city, and owned the entire sports world forever. Instead, he’ll have to do with post-mortem ownage of the Barclays Center. It’s gonna get the Islanders pumped.
Also Likely to Get Play as Instrumental In-Game Music: