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Savran: Stadium music has gone to dogs

Sunday, October 22, 2000

Who let the dogs out? A fair question, although only relevant if you have more than one dog. But when you capitalize the title and put quotation marks around it -- "Who Let the Dogs Out?" -- like so, it becomes a song title. This current novelty tune by the Baja Men is one of those tunes you love to hate, one that gets you doing the ol' double head shake ... the first in disbelief that such a song was even recorded, and the second shake to get it out of your mind.

Have you heard it yet? It goes, "Who let the dogs out ... woof, woof, woof, woof, woof." Yeah, catchy. I give it a 95, fabulous lyric and easy to dance to. I barked it out to my dog, and her tail went down as she ran the other way. Forget obedience school, she needs a music appreciation class.

Why am I telling you this? Because in case you haven't noticed, "Who Let the Dogs Out" has become No. 1 with a bullet on the sports hit parade, a staple on every stadium play list. And if a team's nickname has even the slightest canine connection, forget about it. From the Georgia Bulldogs to the Washington Huskies to the Monessen Greyhounds to any stadium with Barcaloungers in the luxury boxes, it's the No. 1 hit on the loudspeaker hit parade. And if they ever hear about this in Cleveland, the Dawg Pound will have a calming melody to soothe the inmates, much like Nurse Ratchett did for Jack Nicholson and the boys in, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

Songs at stadiums and arenas are part of our sporting culture. And I don't mean, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." I'm talkin' rock-and-roll. What self-respecting stadium musicologist doesn't play, "Start Me Up" by the Rolling Stones before the opening kickoff? Just the ones with taste, I suppose. They're still doing it at stuck-in-the-70s Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. Time to let that one go.

How about the refrain, 'We will, we will rock you' which is part of the song and a prelude to (assuming you're fortunate enough to be in the position to play it), "We Are the Champions" by Queen. And speaking of that group, don't forget, "Another One Bites the Dust." I believe the first athletic venue where that song was played was The Palace, home of the Detroit Pistons. Back in the days when the Pistons were winning championships, they would fire that baby up when the Pistons had their thumbs on the windpipes of the about-to-be-vanquished opponent, when the only thing left to be determined was the margin of victory. It was a musical variation on Red Auerbach's victory cigar, without the carcinogens. Although when you say, "Another One Bites the Dust" in Detroit, you could be talking about their homicide count.

"Rock and Roll Part 2" by Gary Glitter, more readily identifiable as the "Hey!" song is in the pantheon of the all-time greats. I first heard it in Denver at a Steelers-Broncos game, and the faithful there, who are as committed a group of fans as any I've ever seen, literally would rock Mile High Stadium. The stands would actually shake and sway when they bounced up and down and reached a Rocky Mountain, "Hey!" I'm told the tradition actually began with the old Colorado Rockies hockey team, before they moved to New Jersey and became the Devils. Makes sense that the "Hey!" song made the rounds in hockey. It certainly found a home in Pittsburgh.

It was played in a lot of hockey rinks back then, but it really gained a foothold here during the Stanley Cup years. Fans responded to it as if it were born and bred here, a 'Burgh thing. It was used judiciously by the Penguins' marketing staff, played only when there was a truly joyous moment, not every time the other team was offside, or every time Mike Milbury threw a temper tantrum. And because of that, people waited for it, and coupling the wait with the electricity of the moment, Penguins' fans shouted "Hey!" with a genuine joy and a fervor that just made you smile. Much like, "Who Let the Dogs Out."

And speaking of all-time great stadium/arena songs, why don't they play the Steelers' polka anymore? Maybe because they can't find anything that rhymes with Plaxico.

Stan Savran is the co-host of "SportsBeat" on Fox Sports Pittsburgh.

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