New song takes
sports world by storm
Oct 16, 2000 7:00
By Jeff Houck
If there's a hot
burning question on the minds of sports fans today, an unanswerable
query that causes them to froth at the mouth and get hot under the
collar it is this:
"Who let the
the pantheon of musical questions, it ranks right up there with,
"Do You Know The Way to San Jose?" "Can You Feel the
Love Tonight?" and "Why Must I Be a Teenager In Love?"
But those songs
never made 70,000 fans bark in unison.
This? This is a phenomenon.
play of the single "Who Let the Dogs Out," by the Bahamian
group Baha Men has launched them from obscurity to Billboard's Top 10
list and platinum album sales.
run-through of the song's question prompts the crowd's roaring
Pavlovian response: "Woof (pause) woof (pause) woof,
woof-woof." Not since The Village People's "YMCA" has
a tune so entranced the sports populace.
The song also is
testament to the powerful connection between sports and music,
spawning an equally important question:
"How the heck
did 'Who Let The Dogs Out?' get so huge?"
No fewer than
three big league baseball teams - first the Seattle Mariners and then
the San Francisco Giants and Chicago White Sox adopted it for their
playoffs runs. U.S. athletes and fans even barked the chorus a
cappella at the Olympics.
Redskins' defense has taken the song to heart, having it played every
time the 'Skins make a huge play.
And God help any
team that actually has a dog mascot and tries to deny the song's power.
Three weeks ago
when the Mississippi State Bulldogs toppled the Florida Gators, tens
of thousands turned their stadium into a makeshift dog pound.
sports are America's pasttimes," said Jimmy Smith, general
manager of Phat Cat Records in New York City. Phat Cat is owned by Promo
Only, a, Orlando, Florida-based company that sends CDs of newly
released songs to disc jockeys and sports teams and leagues.
"You get a
record on the radio and people who are driving in their cars may or
may not hear it," Smith said. "Play it at a game at
halftime with a video and you have a captive audience of 60,000 at once."
It was a Promo
Only compilation CD that found its way to the Seattle Mariners
in June that started the "Dogs" craze. The song was among a
dozen or so others made available as a way of creating a buzz about
an upcoming album or dance single.
Gregg Greene, the
Mariners' promotions director, first discovered the song on one of
the discs. The Mariners started pumping up the volume in the early
'90s, back when they played in the drab Kingdome, which swallowed
crowd enthusiasm and was always in need of atmospheric assistance.
After tripping across "Who Let The Dogs Out," Greene played
it as a goof around the office.
"It was fun
and catchy and gets in the brain," Greene said.
As a joke before
backup catcher and country music lover Joe Oliver came up to bat
during one game, Greene popped the CD into the stadium's player and
blasted the tune. Oliver hit a home run and went 3-for-3 at the plate
that night. He requested it to be played every time he came up to bat.
calling to ask what the song was and then Mariners shortstop Alex
Rodriguez gave it his seal of approval, calling the control room to
ask that it be played before his at-bats.
in high school was Big Dog, so he liked the song," Greene said.
As the underdog
Mariners piled up wins during the year, the team played it in the
clubhouse. Sportswriters took note and mentioned it in their columns.
And after the team won a crucial six out of eight games during a
stretch of away games in Chicago and New York, they played it during
the airplane ride home.
Bryan Srabian, who directs ballpark entertainment at Pacific Bell
Park in San Francisco, picked up on the song and began playing it at
Giants games. From there, the song spread like a virus to every
corner of the American sports universe.
about 10,000 times and it takes on a new meaning," Greene said.
Baha Men, an
ever-changing ensemble that has been around in some form since the
1970s, recorded the song earlier this year. The nine-man group
specializes in a style of Bahamian dance pop known as junkanoo, which
is rooted in West African rhythms and instrumentation.
was written and first recorded by a Trinidadian soca (soul and
Calypso) star named Anselm Douglas for the 1998 Carnival festival (a
later version came in 1999 from rapper Chuck Smooth). The signature
line is from a woman's point of view: "Who let the dogs
out?" is how women might respond to overly aggressive male
suitors. Another lyric commands, "Get back, you flea-infested mongrel."
To date, the album
has sold 1.5 million copies, and Baha Men's video has been on MTV and
Nickelodeon. The song will show up on the soundtrack of Nickelodeon's
upcoming movie "Rugrats in Paris."
The Mariners even
hosted Baha Men in tribute at Safeco Field earlier this season. The
members said they were baseball fans, but that the song's launch by
the team made them permanent Mariners fans, Greene said.
is merely the latest in a long line of songs that have taken on new
life as stadium anthems.
Fans of a certain
age will remember watching Willie Stargell of the Pittsburgh Pirates
bob and weave to Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" during the
team's 1979 championship run.
The Orioles long
ago ritualized John Denver's "Thank God I'm a Country Boy"
as one of their 7th-inning stretch tunes. Just about every
professional sports team has played to death Kool & the Gang's
"Celebration," Queen's "We Are the Champions,"
C&C Music Factory's "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance
Now)," and Chumbawumba's "Tubthumping" ("I get
knocked down, but I get up again . . . "). But the Super Bowl
champion of overplayed stadium songs may be Gary Glitter's "Rock
'n Roll, Part 2," (the "Hey" song).
The NBA, which
pioneered music during games, even employs a music coordinator who
screens songs for language and taste before farming it out to clubs
for use during games.
tired of playing the same thing over and over," Greene said.
"You want to stay ahead of things. But you never know when
something like this is going to take off. You can't plan on it happening.
dogs," he said, his voice tinged with both pride and remorse at
the monster he unleashed, "are just running amok."
The Washington Post was used in this report.
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