Credit Oakland Athletics outfielder Josh Reddick with making ’80s music relevant among today’s major leaguer hitters and their walk-up song choices. It’s Reddick who has recently been raising eyebrows and inspiring headlines with his selection of George Michael’s Careless Whisper as his at-bat anthem. Though Reddick will surely receive the accolades that come along with making a leap towards owning a libido-arousing romantic soft rock ballad, I like to believe that my earlier Mariners-centric request penetrated Reddick’s consciousness and moved him to take action.
Reddick certainly isn’t the first pro ballplayer to capture the hearts of audiences with a decades-old medley to call his own, but the curious nature of a sentimental tune that so blatantly diverges from the mean of driving, bass-heavy tracks is hard to ignore. Nick Punto, a teammate of Reddick’s, has used The Outfield’s 1985 hit Your Love as his song of choice this season. In years past, journeyman outfielder Michael Morse has delighted fans by employing A-ha’s Take On Me and Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams, and even before that Ichiro Suzuki once upon a time took to the batter’s box to Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
But it’s clear that the more outrageous one gets with their music selection, the more likely he is to garner some extra attention. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the 11 best ’80s songs still not utilized by major league hitters. What follows is one’s ticket to the hearts (and possibly loins) of millions of adoring onlookers. Dare to be different. Dare to be awesome. Dare to choose one of these songs as your walk-up music.
11. St. Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion)
The artist: John Parr
The year: 1985
My god. Just listen to that song. How can you not walk away from that tune wanting to climb a mountain or slay a goddamn dragon? The lyrics of the bridge alone — “Just once in his life a man has his time, and my time is now and I’m comin’ alive…” — are enough to inspire you to go back in time, find the nerdy 16-year-old version of yourself in a school hallway, stuff him/you in a locker, grab the hottest girl in the 12th grade, pin her against the wall, and passionately make love to her in front of everybody because WHY THE HELL NOT? And if you can do all that thanks to this song, you can at least saunter up to home plate, tap your cleats, take a practice swing, and hit a single. Just a single.
10. I Can’t Wait
The artist: Nu Shooz
The year: 1986
Featuring an oft-sampled backbeat that could take up residence in your brain for weeks on end, I Can’t Wait is one of the greatest one-hit wonders all-time. That the tune was written and performed by a proclaimed R&B/Dance group out of Portland, Oregon, of all places, makes it even more impressive.
Against the backdrop of a big-league baseball stadium, the iconic chorus would instantly turn a .200 hitter into a fan favorite and vault a .300 hitter into the stratosphere of cult hero.
9. Everywhere You Look (theme from Full House)
The artist: Jesse Frederick
The year: 1987
There are a handful of 1980s TV show theme songs that might do well before large audiences (Growing Pains, Magnum P.I., Perfect Strangers, Saved By the Bell, and Cheers all come to mind), but none is likely to trigger a pang of nostalgia among millenials quite like the theme from Full House.
Strolling up to the dish while a guitar riff segues into ABC’s raspy-voiced, no-name lead singer of sitcom rock hits belting out “Everywhere you look…” will undoubtedly induce squeals from women of a certain age and peculiar looks immediately followed by resigned laughter from men who otherwise view themselves as “too cool” to really remember the quintessential family comedy.
Yes, people might think you’re a little (pardon the pun) off-base for selecting a walk-up song that was solely penned for the benefit of television viewing audiences, but uniqueness is a beautiful trait that we can all appreciate.
8. When Doves Cry
The artist: Prince
The year: 1984
The best-selling single of 1984, When Doves Cry is characterized by its lack of a bass line and an energetic, synthesized keyboard solo that accompanies the chorus. With such an infectious pop beat, even a 10-second sampling of Prince’s epochal hit would be enough to waken the most moribund of crowds. Which, in the midst of a lost season, certainly isn’t a bad thing at all.
7. Girls Just Want to Have Fun
The artist: Cyndi Lauper
The year: 1983
Okay, I get it. This song is about girls having fun. Guys playing baseball are definitely not girls having fun. But get past the gender bias of the lyrics for a minute and focus on the melody itself. It’s incredible. Women love this tune and men will add it to their playlists as a guilty pleasure. Even still, it will take an athlete of the utmost confidence to pull off making this song his own.
Once such a ballplayer emerges (call him “progressive,” if you must), it’s anyone’s guess as to how his at-bats will be received. Fact is, though, most major leaguers aren’t out to impress the dudes in the audience, so who really cares how the guys feel about the music selection? It’s about leaving a mark on all the beautiful ladies out there. Cyndi Lauper is the key to their collective hearts.
6. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
The artist: Wham!
The year: 1984
There are two key adjectives to describe a successful stadium anthem: upbeat and fun. There may not be a more upbeat, fun song on this list than Wham’s Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.
Written and performed by George Michael and some other guy (Andrew Ridgeley, apparently), Wake Me Up oozes happiness and vibrance not typically associated with the ’80s so much as a Red Bull-infused acid trip. Drugs or no drugs, baseball fans pay the price of admission in search of entertainment and good vibes. This very work of art is a veritable representation of that which fanatics seek.
If you happen to be a ballplayer who wants his plate appearances to be met with smiles and dancing, this is without a doubt the right song for you. If nothing else, it should soften the sting of those seven-out-of-every-ten at-bats in which you fail to reach base.
5. You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)
The artist: Dead or Alive
The year: 1985
Invoking some of the same rhythmic head-nodding, hand-clapping craziness of A-Ha’s (slash, Michael Morse’s) Take On Me, this 1985 hit from British new wave group Dead or Alive should already be playing in a stadium near you. And in fact it probably would be playing if major leaguers were capable of pulling their heads out of their country-loving, rap-infatuated, reggaeton-lusting asses.
The chorus line to this hit is perhaps best recognized by a younger crowd as that which holds Flo Rida’s 2009 single Right Round together, a song that wasn’t exactly well-regarded by critics, but received extensive radio airplay and was featured over the credits of the movie The Hangover.
Were it not for Dead or Alive, Flo Rida would likely be a bit lighter in the wallet and slightly less renowned for becoming a modern-day Puff Daddy by reaching across genres to bastardize decades-old songs. Compared to its watered-down remake of the 2000s, though, the original You Spin Me Round is a true aural pleasure.
With a catchy, synthesized backbeat, You Spin Me Round is destined to become a fan favorite when it finally makes its major league debut thanks to one enterprising player to be named later.
4. I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)
The artist: Whitney Houston
The year: 1987
Some amazing things happened in 1987. Future Hall of Famer Edgar Martinez made his big league debut at the age of 24. Super model Brooklyn Decker was born. The Simpsons hit Fox’s airwaves for the first time. And Whitney Houston released a single entitled I Wanna Dance With Somebody.
Another one of America’s guilty pleasure tracks, I Wanna Dance With Somebody is Whitney Houston at her pinnacle, unencumbered by Bobby Brown and all that his caustic presence entailed. Similar to Girls Just Want to Have Fun, it will take a real confident sonofabitch to pull off this song choice. Should some bold hitter take the leap of faith, however, he’ll surely be rewarded with lots and lots of affection from females. Translation: ASS.
3. Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car
The artist: Billy Ocean
The year: 1988
The soundtrack to a 16-year-old character played by actor Corey Haim riding off into the California sun alongside a stunning vixen named Mercedes, played by a young Heather Graham, Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car left its mark on American cinema as the featured track in a masturbatory exploitation of Hollywood’s “Corey” craze, otherwise known as the movie License to Drive.
Beyond its role in the hot teen movie of ’88, Billy Ocean’s finest musical creation (though some might argue it comes second to Caribbean Queen) has, to the best of my knowledge, yet to be deployed by a big league batter in the era of modern walk-up music.
There is good news, however. We can change all that starting right now. Free Billy!
2. Need You Tonight
The artist: INXS
The year: 1987
The definitive single of the Australian rock group’s expansive career, Need You Tonight is a panty-dropper of a cut if there ever was such a thing.
Oozing sex appeal from start to finish, INXS’s transcendent hit could very well be the perfect advertisement for a single, eligible ballplayer looking for a lady to pine tar his fungo, if you catch my drift. No song screams “DTF” quite like Need You Tonight, so make sure you carry protection (in the lineup or otherwise) should this become your walk-up music.
1. Jessie’s Girl
The artist: Rick Springfield
The year: 1981
It’s an absolute travesty that this song isn’t already on some hitter’s playlist, as it surely resides on a good number of iPods around the league. Maybe too many players know guys named Jessie or something, but regardless, the drought should exist no longer.
A staple of midnight karaoke sessions and throwback lunch hours on Top 40 radio stations, Jessie’s Girl is the one great thing Rick Springfield ever did. Sure, he sang a few other songs and even did a bit of acting on General Hospital, but above all else it’s this track alone that gives Springfield any legs to those casino concert hall tours he annually embarks upon some 31 years later.
There is no excuse for Major League Baseball to go another day without Jessie’s Girl among its walk-up music selections. End the madness!