June 23, 2014

Please Stop "Don't Stop Believin'"

On the afternoon of June 8th, Royals fans voted for the new sixth inning song to replace Garth Brooks's ode to drunken losers. While this seemed like a great idea in theory, democracy has let us down once again.

 Their vote condemned us all to Hell for the remainder of the season (or, at the very least, three-minute bursts of Hell every home game) when they selected Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" as the new song.

Let me just say up front that I don't like Journey. I don't like power ballads. I don't like Steve Perry's voice, face, hair, or moose knuckle.

And I don't like "Don't Stop Believin'" for about a million reasons.

Here are but a few:

1) "Just a city boy raised in South Detroit"

This is stupid: Detroit is in the Royals' division and is the perennial division champ, no less. So yeah, let's make our song one that mentions Detroit, but not Kansas City. 

This is stupid, part two: the city of Detroit contains no area known as South Detroit. Steve Perry didn't like how East, North, or West Detroit sounded when he shrieked them over a keyboard riff, so he went with "South." 

This is stupid, part three: some interpret this to mean he's singing of Windsor, Ontario, the city just to the south of Detroit. However, I think those people are just Canadians who love terrible music and terrible food.

This is stupid, part four: there is actually a place called South Detroit, but it's in rural South Dakota. It has a population of 75 people, with a population density of less than two people for every square mile. Certainly no place for a city boy equipped with only a mullet, tight jeans, and a voice that could destroy the eardrums of field mice.

2) "Streetlight People"

I believe those two words have never been combined anywhere else in the history of language, but they are prominently featured as a line in the song "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey.

It's almost like Steve Perry composed the song in a Mad Libs fashion, but didn't know what an adjective was. Sure, writers (good writers) can come up with phrases like this that have a nice poetic sound and provide instant recognition of what's being discussed, but I don't think "Streetlight People" works in this way. 

Are these people who just hang out under streetlights? Wouldn't they be getting bombarded by moths? Or is this just a cutesy way for Steve Perry to reference street walkers AKA prostitutes AKA hookers AKA whores AKA callgirls AKA ladies of the evening AKA working girls AKA a young Steve Perry's primary source for handjibbers? It's a nonsense phrase that may as well be the title of the song considering how often it appears.


 The line has certainly not entered our lexicon like other made-up song phrases, despite this track being a massively popular piece of shit.

You know what, I take that back. This lyric did inspire a Berkeley improv group with a terrible logo:

3) Vagueness

This doesn't normally bother me in songs, but this one starts off in the first couple of verses like a story. So why does it get so imprecise as it continues? We go from this young man and woman who are lost finding each other to a much broader view of a sidewalk populated by unclear character types motivated by unknown things (the streetlight people lookin' for emotion), then some stuff about how life has ups and downs and some people have good lives and others don't, then we're back to the streetlight people, then after three minutes we finally get the first utterance of the line "Don't Stop Believin'". Just what the hell is going on in the song? Is he still singing about the people from the opening when he gets to the end? Does he even know? At one point, he even switches from third person to first person (working hard to get MY thrill). It's a combination of ideas that don't really congeal in any sort of way. It's sort of like how Journey album covers of rainbow-colored outer space stuff and flying dung beetles never really tie to their terrible ballads about "lovin' touchin' squeezin'".

4) "Don't stop believing believin' / Hold on to the feeling feelin'"

We get it, you're too cool to pronounce words correctly, or even write them correctly. Nothing makes a power ballad stronger than forcing a phonetic decision on your audience. Someone get Weird Al on the phone and tell him to do a song called "Don't Stop Droppin' G's."

5) Follow the bouncing baseball... or don't.

At the games, they have all these ridiculous lyrics on the screen with a bouncing baseball just below shots of the crowd in which nobody is singing. In fact, only a smattering of drunken douchebags in the entire stadium seem to be singing along to the song. As much as I hated it, at least folks actually participated in "Friends in Low Places." Worst of all, the thing I think people would sing (the "Don't Stop Believin'" part) doesn't occur early enough in the song for anyone to be able to sing it. The PA guy inevitably has to fade the song out just when it's getting to the part that people will actually sing along with.

6) It's not really our song

The Pirates were using this JUST LAST YEAR for their run to the playoffs. The Giants used it in 2010. The Dodgers used it in 2008. It was the official song of the Chicago White Sox in 2005 when they won the World Series. Here's a picture of Steve Perry with the freaking trophy:

Just like the song says, it goes on and on and on and on. "Don't Stop Believin'" has been passed around the league more than Matt Stairs.

Beyond baseball, "Don't Stop Believin'" was the track that played when The Sopranos stupidly faded to black. It's been covered by both Alvin and the Chipmunks and the cast of Glee. Why are the Royals jumping on the bandwagon this late?

I know there are people who like this song. I'm glad they get some joy out of it. But I'm not a fan of it and feel like it's a pretty terrible song to be a sing-along tradition at Royals games.

My hope is that next year the Royals go back to the pre-2008 tradition of letting fans pick from a few songs in each game. Inevitably I'd have to endure some Journey, but at least it wouldn't be a daily occurrence.

Go Royals! You're 2-3 At Home Since Making This Change!

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