When Charlotte songwriter Mark Crozer got a call saying a wrestler had been using one of his tunes as theme music, he was sure it was a mistake: some other Crozer, some other song.
Though he periodically uploaded his music to licensing websites so it could be used on television, he couldn’t imagine his songs being used as part of a professional wrestler’s soundtrack – he’s no Nickelback or Marilyn Manson.
But Florida wrestler Bray Wyatt had chosen a Crozer song, “Broken Out in Love,” as his theme music, used to complete his persona – a deranged cult leader. This summer, Wyatt was signed to the WWE Raw, a move that usually results in rebranding and new theme music, but Wyatt retained his character and song. The WWE bought the copyright from Crozer and renamed the song “Live in Fear.”
Now, WWE’s vast viewing audience has heard Crozer’s music.
A transplant from England, Crozer and his family moved to Charlotte two years ago to be closer to his wife’s parents. Since moving, he has kept playing with the Scottish band, Jesus and Mary Chain, as well as the more local Mark Crozer and The Rels. Merely performing rarely pays the bills. Crozer has found selling songs to television shows – even as background music – is a great way to get your music heard.
WWE has immediately propelled his song into listenership numbers he didn’t think we possible. WWE broadcasts to 14 million fans per week in the United States alone, which doesn’t account for the other 150 countries that receive the show.
When “WWE Raw” airs, Crozer’s song sells more on iTunes, his website is visited more and his “likes” go up on Facebook. Many of the social media comments state that they checked him out because of Wyatt.
“Television seems to function like the new MTV,” Crozer said. “Music videos were how you got your music heard, but now it’s television. If you had a piece of music in a high profile show, suddenly there are millions of people hearing your music. A lot of those people will turn to the internet to easily look up the song. I was surprised – the show airs on Monday night, and instantly, my email inbox fills up with tweets and contacts on Monday nights.”
An unexpected mood
Still, it’s not what you would expect to be paired with the testosterone-heavy soap opera of professional wrestling. When Crozer wrote “Broken Out in Love,” he was trying to channel a combination of Radiohead and “Daytripper”-era Beatles. While he doesn’t think he pulled that off with this song, he still didn’t expect the resulting mood to fit wrestling drama. The song begins with a quiet, thudding bass line, joined by an eerie, modal melody that communicates imminence or lurking.
To understand why it works, you need to understand Wyatt’s character. In an introductory video, Wyatt quietly broods in a dark shack in the woods, lighting an oil lamp and ranting about how people are sheep that need to be led.
When Wyatt entered the ring recently, he tenderly positioned his opponent like he was baptizing him in a river, kissed his forehead, and delivered the destructive blow. Two henchmen flank Wyatt – the three together are called the Wyatt family – who make the hillbillies in “Deliverance” look cute. The unhinged hillbilly gimmick has enticed a large number of WWE fans.
Because Wyatt plays up the “lying in wait” or unpredictable element of his character, Crozer’s restrained song fits perfectly.
“As soon as I heard the bass line of this one,” said Windham Rotunda, who plays Bray Wyatt, “a spark happened. It was magic.”
Rotunda searched a library of music licensed to be used on television looking for a song that would fit Bray Wyatt.
“He was able to capture a mood in a melody,” Rotunda said. “The mood is very eerie. The song and Bray Wyatt come together so well because Bray is an enigma.”
Looking into the future
When a wrestler moves from a developmental show to the national level, the music team at WWE usually starts from scratch, writing a new song for them to use as their entrance music. But Crozer’s song fit Wyatt so well, they were happy to buy his song and create a relationship.
“He’s a really talented musician with a really specific sound,” said Neil Lawi, general manager of WWE Music Group. “He should have created music in the ’60s. He should have been a Beatle.”
Even outside the scope of “Live in Fear,” both Crozer and the music group are open to collaborating on other projects; Crozer has been writing some instrumental music that could be used as background music in future shows.
Given the skyrocketing exposure Crozer has had in a short time, he’s keen to explore the possibilities.