Unless you’re the Chicago Bears circa 1986, you have virtually no chance of landing on the Billboard charts with a song gloating about a football team.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for songs like that.
Several songs inspired by the playoff-bound Carolina Panthers – mostly of the rap variety, but none featuring Jim McMahon in sunglasses – cropped up late last year. Here’s a look at five of them.
Artist: Charlotte-based Baby Jesus.
Release date: Dec. 14.
The hook: “I’m dabbin’ like I’m from Atlanta/Dab like I play for the Panthers/I’m dabbin’ like my name is Cameron…” Within just a couple of listens, this will get stuck in your head.
Sample lyric: “We been winnin’ all season, we undefeated (another voice pipes in with a ‘12-0’).” I love the sentiment, and I like his delivery; but by being so specific, he gave that particular line a shelf life of just one week.
The video that goes with it: It’s good. The shots of Baby Jesus in his bathroom – shadowboxing, doing a jump shot with the football, preening – are a little goofy, but show personality; the footage of him with fans at the stadium is much more entertaining (and better-edited) than one might expect.
Number of people he got to do the Dab for the video: 33 … including a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officer!
Language: The n-word and an f-word make this the only track on this list that contains adult language. I’m no prude, but if he’d left them out, this would have fit in at family-friendlier tailgates.
Grade: Solid production around a sure-handed and catchy rap. B-plus.
‘Carolina Panthers Theme Song’
Artist: Tim Hall and Buffalo Country (of Hudson, N.C.).
Release date: Sept. 16. It’s the only song on the list that was made before the team’s wild success. (It’s also the only non-rap song.)
The hook: “Hear our rock/Feel our roar/We’ve got a taste of victory and the boys just want some more/This Super Bowl’s in our blood now, we’ll never be the same/Won’t you catch a ride on the Panther tide let the big cat lead the way.”
Sample lyric: As the big finish, Hall crows, “Caroliiiiiina Panthers! That’s what IIIIII’m talkin’ about!,” with quite a bit of emphasis on the “i” sounds in “Carolina” and “I’m.” Too over-the-top for me, personally; an understated “Keep Poundin’, y’all” maybe would have sent me away cringing less?
The video that goes with it: A montage of game footage – Cam rushing for touchdowns, throwing for touchdowns, etc. – plus a few stills incorporating the Ken Burns effect. Amateurish, but unoffensive.
Grade: Lyrically it’s a tad pedestrian, but it still succeeds as a country-rock party-starter. Heard it played at a recent tailgate. B-minus.
‘Carolina Panthers Anthem’
Artist: Joose Jones III (of Greensboro).
Release date: December.
The hook: “We keep on pounding/We keep on pounding/We keep on pounding/Carolina stand up/Get loud, get loud, get loud, let’s do it/Get loud get loud get loud, get movin’.”
Sample lyric: “TopCats on the field keep it hot now/Sir Purr’s in the crowd like ‘Row!’ (‘Row!’)/PurrCussion on the drums like ‘Blow!’ (‘Blow!’)/All my Carolina fans need to shout now.” (Say “Row!” and “Blow” so they sound like “ow” instead of “oh,” by the way.)
Grade: Not the most inspired rhyming, but the beat is OK, so I could see this getting heads bobbing (slightly) at the stadium. After a couple of beers. C-plus.
Artist: Mark B (of Spartanburg, S.C.).
Re-release date: Dec. 17. Mark B says he first put this out four years ago, “when we weren’t winning as much. I just tweaked it.”
The hook: “I’m a Carolina Panther, Carolina Anthem/South Cack, North Cack, playas put your hands up/You know where I’m from, you ain’t even gotta ask ’em/Come around here and you know we gotta smash ’em.”
Sample lyric: “First and 10, touchdown to Ted Ginn/Ealy got the ball back and Greg O. scored again/Then Kelvin Benjamin and J. Stew ran it in/Your quarterback down, Tillman sacked him again.” Reading it, it seems a little all over the place. Listening to it, it sounds really tight.
The video that goes with it: The best of the bunch. Looks like a legit rap video, with Mark B. shown rapping alone atop a parking garage near the Hearst Tower in uptown Charlotte and near the stadium on a game day in and around groups of friends and tailgaters.
Number of people he got to do the Dab for the video: 23.
Grade: His growling delivery reminds me of T.I., and the many (and, often enough, clever) references to specific players makes the song current and fun. I’d actually listen to this in the car. A-minus.
Artist: Zack Fraley featuring Sean Divine. Both are UNC Charlotte graduates.
Release date: Dec. 15.
The hook: “We haven’t come all this way to turn around, to turn around/We lay it all on the line ’cause we don’t have time to play it safe, to play it safe/(then, repeated four times in a row) We all in, we go all out/this our time we ball out.”
Sample lyric: “Front flip skying through the end zone/It’s the toughest 1 that bring the wins home.” In a track light on specific references to the Panthers, this is a nice little shout-out to Cam Newton.
The video that goes with it: The focus is on slick presentation of the lyrics as captions, with shots of the Charlotte skyline as backdrops. Fraley says the video is intended “to showcase the lyrics as a versatile piece of digital media to use in sporting arenas and for Charlotte sports fans to enjoy a more dynamic presentation of the record. … We did our best to embody the spirit of the city and motivate the Carolina Panthers to finish this incredible season strong.”
Grade: Reasonably inspiring, though this gets a mixed review due to the Charlotte Hornets and basketball references. So, it’s a B as a standalone, pump-you-up Charlotte track, but a C as a Panthers ode.
Photo: Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer