Music is becoming an increasingly personalized art form. Smart phones are programmed to play a favorite song as a ring tone, or to play a song meant to be associated with specific callers in one's contact list. I can't say for certain, but I have to imagine many husbands have "Ball and Chain" by Social Distortion set to play when their wives call, for instance. The advent of iTunes and similar programs have turned the all-day mix tape project into mere moments of drag and drop. These playlists can then be shared via Spotify, Facebook or any of the myriad ways we share what matters to us with the rest of the world.
Over the last decade, athletes in particular have become identifiable with specific songs. Professional wrestling was the innovator in this arena, playing personalized theme music as their combatants entered the arena, which always amazed me when a wrestler made a surprise appearance (how did they know to play that song??).
Baseball adapted this practice in the '90s, first playing specific songs for relief pitchers entering from the bullpen, then adding the "walk-up song" for each hitter, music typically chosen by the player because he simply likes it, or often to share personal information with the fans. As an example, when Matt Holliday steps to the plate for the local nine, he lets everyone in Busch Stadium know he'd just as soon be spitting tobacco juice out of the window of his pickup truck while his dog and/or children ride in the flatbed with his choice of the ear-splitting country tune "Chicken Fried" by the Zac Brown Band. The Olympics may be all about unity and patriotism, but that doesn't mean the individual athletes wouldn't benefit from some similar theme music. Some of our suggestions are as follows:
Michael Phelps - "You're the Best" by Joe Esposito Phelps hasn't been as dominant in 2012 as he was in 2008, but he's got two golds and two silvers and on Tuesday became the all-time leading medalist in Olympic history. So the lyrics and theme are certainly befitting of this champion, and the awesome, over-the-top '80s cheesiness of the song from the Karate Kid All-Valley Championship montage is perfect for Phelps' somewhat awkward personality.
Ryan Lochte - "What Have I Done to Deserve This" by Pet Shop Boys Lochte is an extremely gifted swimmer and has won several medals in these Olympics, but while the estimable shadow of the legendary Phelps looms, the full spotlight will never shine down upon him. Were Phelps born four years earlier, Lochte might be the one extolling the virtues of putting avocado on a submarine sandwich.
Hope Solo - "Mean" by Taylor Swift The talented but mercurial U.S. Women's soccer goalkeeper showed poor form by relentlessly attacking former teammate and current NBC broadcaster Brandi Chastain on Twitter last week. The proper song for her probably is a certain tune with a one-word title with versions popularized by both the Rolling Stones and '90's one-hit wonder Meredith Brooks, but we keep the language clean in this corner of cyber space. Incidentally, there is no truth to the rumor that Nike is attempting to persuade Chastain to tear off her blazer to expose a Swoosh-marked sports bra after a particularly salient on-air comment.
Usain Bolt -- "All of the Lights" by Kanye West. The human thunderbolt from Jamaica will be the most-watched and scrutinized athlete in the 2012 Olympics. Four years ago, Bolt won by such margins that he all but moonwalked to the finish line. He's still the favorite, but a lot can happen to someone in four years; right, Lindsay Lohan?
NBC Sports -- "Oops, I Did It Again" by Britney Spears By revealing the results of tape-delayed events in an advertisement for the next-day's programming, they spoiled the suspense for the over-50 crowd who neither understand how to work the internet to learn these results nor how to navigate a DVR to avoid commercials in the first place. Who's running things over there? K-Fed?
Serena Williams -- "Baby Got Back" by Sir-Mix-A-Lot What, too on the nose?