Apr 18, 2009

All about writing an arena anthem (and Zombie Nation)

Ben Raynor in the Toronto Star writes about "Kernkraft 400" by Zombie Nation:

The booming tune's belated rise has come as a bit of a shock to its creator, a Munich electronic musician named Florian Senfter who's released four albums of generally rather more subtle tech-house and electro under the Zombie Nation moniker...

"Kernkraft 400" first attained renown overseas when the crowd-stoking "Sports Chant Remix" was heard at European soccer games and trickled into the background during last year's Olympic coverage, which is probably where it tickled the ears of folks who program music for sports events on these shores.

He also offers some insight into what it takes to write a successful arena sports anthem:

  • Aim low: A hockey rink during the third period in the playoffs is no place to get arty. It is, in fact, exactly the place where the lowest of the low – "novelty" one-hit wonders – live on in infamy: the Baha Men's "Who Let the Dogs Out?" Rednex's "Cotton Eye Joe," the Vengaboys' "We Like to Party," Los Del Mar's "Macarena," the entire Jive Bunny catalogue... [this stuff is] so simple and maddeningly catchy that everyone from 4-year-olds to grandmothers get it right away and recognize it.

  • When in doubt, add crowd noise: Zombie Nation's "Sports Chant Remix" of "Kernkraft 400" found its way into soccer stadiums when it added the sound of a stadium crowd yelling in unison to a galvanizing dance track. Sporting events thrive on mob mentality, so any music that encourages the mob in that direction with a few cues to "Join in the Chant," as Nitzer Ebb once put it (in a tune that should, come to think of it, get played in more arenas) is usually an instant hit.

  • Get your "gay" on: Pro sports have done more to keep the vibe of late-'80s/early-'90s gay club culture – gutsy diva vocals, throbbing house beats – alive than a thousand Pride Parades combined. C&C Music Factory's "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)," Snap!'s "The Power," Black Box's "Everybody Everybody," seemingly everything 2 Unlimited ever put to tape and the like are guaranteed to be heard whenever there's male bonding to be done at the big game.

  • Mention movement: Once again, you've gotta cultivate that tendency to mob mentality. Peruse the track listing of any entry in ESPN's big-selling Jock Jams compilation series and you'll always find at least a couple of tunes most explicit in their instructions: Brooklyn Bounce's "Get Ready to Bounce," House of Pain's "Jump Around," Reel 2 Reel's "I Like to Move It."

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