As a Cubs fan, I'm used to disappointment. As a musician, writer, and actor, I'm used to getting and losing gigs for arbitrary reasons that I don't understand. Thus, I was completely unsurprised when BCB's crowdsourced WGN Cubs song did not make the finalist cut.
My mother called me with the news yesterday, shocked that "World's Greatest Fans" was ousted from consideration. She was upset that WGN only chose three songs to vote on (as opposed to the 10 songs they originally said would be finalists), and quite critical of the songs that did make the final voting round. I told her that you never know what intern is screening these songs. It doesn't pay anyway. And ultimately, you have no idea if WGN even listened past the first 10 seconds, or read the email in which I explained the BCB crowdsourcing of the process. It doesn't matter. My song wasn't picked, and the first 10 seconds were probably the worst part. I was incredibly curious however, to listen to the tunes that were deemed worthy of opening every Cubs radio broadcast.
You can hear the finalists and vote here.
So, which songs are in contention? And what's my professional musical opinion?
"More Than Just a Game" by Look Out Love is a Bieberesque pop tune with excellent production, a few awkwardly-set lyrics, and a youthful exuberance that will likely appeal to younger fans. I doubt anyone over age 30 will vote for this one unless they know the artist personally, but I can see how this song could be cut up to make for a decent intro, and promo length spots. If I was a gambling man, and I am, I'd put my money on this tune to win, even though it's not my personal favorite.
"Hey Hey (Cubs Anthem)" by Modern Day Romeos is a rousing melodic anthem that would be really fun to sing along to on Opening Day at the Captain Morgan Club with a swinging mug of beer in my fist. In fact, the large chorus of people singing on the refrain sounds as if they are doing just that (after emptying a couple glasses first). This recording session was likely one of those where the producer bought a couple of cases of beer, and invited all his friends over. Those are fun sessions. And this is a fun recording. My only critique is that there is a fair amount of out of tune singing on the verses, and in the harmonies. Another strike against "Hey Hey", is that its inebriated Irish bar room singalong feel is likely a poor match for the new "Cubs Way", which is attempting to distance the team from "The Largest Bar in Chicago" reputation it has gained over decades of Old Style fueled baseball. But I like this song, and it would have been perfect for when Harry Caray was behind the mic.
"Cubs Rule" by Bill Baum and Andi Frederickson is a modern country rock song, which like my song, has kids shouting on the track. The song is a cross between "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" by Bachman Turner Overdrive and what I imagine a solo Dixie Chicks song would sound like. This is the only finalist that has a female singer and she has a good voice, but inconsistent tone. There are some nice "Skynyrdesque" harmonies at the end, but the recording itself experiences some distracting mic clipping (recorded too hot) from time to time. The style of this one doesn't really appeal to music I normally enjoy, but it's a decent one of "those kinds of songs," and the artists who produced it have an obvious love of the Cubs which came through in lyrics like "We're more than just a baseball team" and "This is our new century."
So, that's it! If you listen to Cubs games on WGN radio, you will also be hearing one of these three songs.
And if you're in Arizona on Sunday, March 9 and want to come hear me play three Cubs songs in addition to my eclectically styled original music. come say "Hi" at Rogue Bar in Scottsdale at 6 p.m. after the Cubs beat the Brewers! Here is a link to the Facebook event… Please come so I can tell my Mom that I'm doing something with my life besides watching the Cubs and losing contests.
Thanks once again to all the artists that gave their time and talent to help make "World's Greatest Fans" a reality: Lucas and Stephanie Shaffer, Hunter Peterson, Gary Kurtis, Mike Cohen, and Kiara, Mika and Markus Speek, and also to all of you that gave encouragement and suggestions. We rocked it!
Even though this song didn't become a finalist, I love the fact that WGN runs this contest, simply for the fact that it encourages thousands of musicians to write songs about the Cubs. Music and the Cubs. My two favorite things. And both got me saying, "Wait till next year."