Not trying to piss in the punch bowl, folks, but…
Hopefully by now you know me. You realize that I generally prefer to take a less serious point of view whenever possible in meting out my opinions, while chronicling the success of the Nashville Predators hockey club, of which I am an unabashed fan. However as I said at the outset in creating this blog, I’m no homer; I call things as I see ‘em.
And this time I’m calling shenanigans.
I’ve witnessed more than a few Nashville Predators fans expressing disappointment lately in the goings-on at Bridgestone Arena.
But don’t get me wrong; they’re not disappointed in the product the home team is putting on the ice ― oh, far from it ― but rather, the change in pregame introduction video fare.
Up until this month, prior to the start of each home game this season, the arena’s Jumbotron has boomed out a dramatic Predators pre-introduction video highlight clip, backed by the dynamic Jay-Z tune, Run This Town, featuring Rihanna and Kanye West.
The song is powerful and moving; the video is laced with exciting Predators highlights and player face shots, building to a natural crescendo the excitement of the crowd, eliciting an eruption of thunderous applause at its conclusion, as the team skates out onto the ice for public address introduction.
The Jay-Z video was extremely well done, impressively edited and presented. It was something that could be shown and appreciated in any hockey market in the U.S. or Canada. It was something that really made me stand back and say, “WOW!” each and every time I saw it. I was proud of that video. I thought it was very much a positive tribute to the Predators Marketing Team in particular, and to the city of Nashville in general.
But then, for some unknown reason, two weeks ago the team introduced a new opening video; this time, a rocking Country Music treatment featuring a band I couldn’t identify ― and one that I doubt that most folks who aren’t avid Country Music buffs would know, either.*
*UPDATE: Thanks to the comment of reader, Chris, we’ve revealed the artist featured in the new video as Jason Aldean and the title of the song as, ‘Crazy Town.’ Chris explains, “The song is about Nashville and how crazy the music industry is here.” Okay, that’s all well and good, but IMO it still doesn’t make it appropriate to use as a hockey anthem, particularly one designed to rile up the fans. I mean, how does that make sense? And with all due respect, despite the fact that Jason Aldean was recently named Billboard Magazine’s Top Male Country Artist, he’s still not a household name in Nashville, so I’ll still say:
Bad move, Preds Marketers. Bad move.
Please understand, I’m not particularly wild about Urban Music. I appreciate it when it’s done well, but it’s generally not my cup o’ tea. I feel pretty much the same way about Country; I can listen to it, especially when the song’s telling a good story, but nine times out of ten, I won’t stop on a Country station as I’m flipping across the dial for something to listen to in my car, let alone buy a CM album as a matter of course.
However, being the overall music enthusiast I am, I understand the ramifications of both genres. I understand that both Urban and Country comprise the vast majority of what is considered ‘Pop’ on the current contemporary musical landscape. And I certainly understand that Nashville is the center of the Country Music universe.
I get all that. What I don’t get is the apparent lack of understanding by the Preds Marketing Department that nothing could be more basic to the nature of hockey, more appropriate, and more representative of the Predators style of play, than that Jay-Z-based intro video. It was perfect. Moreover, even the title, ‘Run This Town’ is particularly relevant given the the Preds attempt to somehow finally usurp the title of ‘Nashville’s Team’ from the struggling, dysfunctional Tennessee Titans of the NFL.
I mean, c’mon; you’ve gotta love that not-so-hidden meaning.
Rightfully so, Nashville owes a great deal of its identity and relevance as a destination of import to Country Music; there’s no argument there. But that’s not its only identity, particularly over the past 20 years, and it’s most definitely not that of its hockey team.
Ice may be slick, but hockey isn’t. Hockey is tough, gritty, violent, and in-your-freaking-face. And while there are a ton of Country Music fans in Canada, I highly doubt that many of them associate their national sport with a Hank Williams ballad. Ever wonder why you hear so much old ‘Hair Metal’ in NHL arenas? It’s because it fits; it works; it represents the emotion, feeling, and passion of the game. And since Nashville’s stereotype as a ‘Country town’ is something the Predators have been battling with since Day One of their quest for legitimacy within the NHL community, why add fuel to the fire? Surely someone has to be aware of this.
PredsOnTheGlass’s Buddy Oakes said it best in his comment on Twitter last Sunday, assessing the new Country intro video. Responding to a Dallas Stars fan, he wrote, “Folks really liked it [the Jay-Z video] and they replaced it with some really bad country song. Nashville’s stereotype is bad enough as it is.”
My thoughts exactly, Buddy (who is, by the way, a Tennessee native).
I don’t claim to be an authority when it comes to the Predators video operations, but one thing I do know: musical tastes aside, there simply is no comparison to the impact between those two selections. The Jay-Z version kicks the Country version’s ass, plain and simple.
It has nothing to do with which musical genre is more representative of Nashville; that shouldn’t even be a consideration. What should be considered, in both my and the opinion of a lot of Preds fans I’ve seen making comments on the subject, is the excitement and emotion elicited, comparatively. Again, the Jay-Z video wins hands down.
Two Steps Forward, One Step Back?
The Preds have really been stepping it up as a team lately, having won three in a row ― the last two via shutout ― and six of their last seven games, while forging ahead in the standings to their current position of fourth in the Western Conference. They are one of only eight teams in the NHL with fewer than 10 regulation losses, and sport the league’s fewest regulation losses at home, having garnered 19 out of a possible 26 points at Bridgestone Arena.
That being said, why take a step back in fan experience? Why not keep giving the crowd even more to be excited about, instead of the collective groan we’re now hearing in the midst of this new Country opening video?
C’mon guys. Bring back Jay-Z. Save the Country Music for the band stage and Tim McGraw’s, ‘I Like It, I Love It’ goal song. We’re all cool with that…well, most of us, anyway.
With all due apologies to my fellow Titans fans, the Preds could indeed be on their way to running this town; why not have a little fun with the concept along the way?
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